Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Celebrating GN2009 and Campaign Against Light Pollution in Far West

Organizers (Step Nepal & NASO) preparing for the programme

NASO team heading towards programme venue

Dhangadi, Kailali

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) team along with Campaign against light pollution team reached Kailali on 23rd October, the far west district of Nepal. A programme was jointly organized by Step Nepal (an NGO based in Dhangadi, Kailali, working in the field of S & T) and Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) for creating awareness in the society on the occasion of Galilean Night celebrating IYA2009.

Mr. Sudeep Neupane Presenting slides on STEPS INTO AMATEUR ASTRONOMY

Mr. Suresh Bhattarai Giving talk on WHAT IS ASTRONOMY?

Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel presenting on GLOBAL WARMING

Mr. Sudeep Neupane giving talk on LIGHT POLLUTION

On 23rd October, a talk programme was arranged in District Development Committee hall in Dhangadi. There were four talks on different topics along with the documentary on Hubble & Universe by GD Pudasaini and Utsav Kandel. Co-ordinator of Campaign Against Light Pollution (CALP-Nepal) and Executive Founder Member of NASO, Mr. Sudeep Neupane presented a talk on “Light Pollution”. Talk on “Global Warming” was given by Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel (Founder Member-NASO) and Mr. Suresh Bhattarai (Founder Member-NASO) presented a talk on “What is Astronomy?” At the end of the talk session, Mr. Sudeep Neupane introduced “Steps into Amateur Astronomy” to guide astronomy enthusiastic which was followed by Sky Observation in the ground near by the programme hall. NASO team made an arrangement to observe Jupiter and Moon through Telescopes and Binoculars. There were almost 250 participants (including teachers, students, journalists and public) attending the talk and observational session. The public were seemed to be eager on all the topics and Light Pollution was completely new for all. A BBC Nepali Reporter Mr. Umid Bagchand, was interviewing the response of the public. Step Nepal team was managing and volunteering both the sessions.

Observers watching Night sky from Binoculars and Telescope

Group Photo of organizers in the observation site

Axis Vidhyashram
Dhangadi, Kailali
NASO team (Mr. Sudeep Neupane, Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel and Mr. GD Pudasaini) went to Axis Vidhyashram (Secondary School) on 24th October. A short talk session followed by Sky Observation was arranged there. Light Pollution, Global Warming and Astronomy were focused on the presentations. Students and Teachers of Axis Vidhyashram attended the programme. Step Nepal Team was along with NASO arranging programmes at Dhangadi. Little bit Sky Glow interrupted the Observers to watch low altitude sky objects.

Students observing JUPITER and MOON through Telescope and Binoculars

Stone Bridge Academy
Dhangadi, Kailali

NASO Team (Mr. Sudeep Neupane, Mr. Riwaj Pokhrel and Mr. GD Pudasaini) reached Stone Bridge Academy on 26th October. School Principal arranged a talk programme for school students followed by Sky Observation. Light Pollution and Astronomy was focused in the talk session. Observation of Jupiter and Moon were arranged through Telescopes and Binoculars. Observers were keen to know their Zodiac Constellation along with other easily known constellations. Observers were practically introduced the Sky Glow which annoyed them to observe night sky.

Star Party on Stone Bridge sec. school, Dhangadhi

You can log on to for light pollution campaign in Dhangadi Kailali Nepal

The Nobel Prize In 2009

-By Rishi Shah

The prestigious Nobel Prizes are awarded annually to those persons or institutions for having conferred the greatest benefit to mankind with their work in Physiology or Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, Literature and Peace. The prizes were established in 1895 in accordance with the will of a Swedish chemist, inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel who made great fortune with his invention of dynamite. Additionally, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in memory of Alfred Nobel was instituted by Sweden’s Central Bank only in 1968.

This year the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute granted the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine to Elizabeth Blackburn, Carol Greider and Jack Szostak for the discovery of how chromosomes are protected by telomeres and the enzyme telomerase. The trio American professors have unraveled the secrets of how the chromosomes can be copied during cell division and how they are safe-guarded against degradation.

Lengthy thread-alike DNA molecules carry our genes that are packed into chromosomes with telomeres as caps on their ends. If telomeres are shortened, the cells begin ageing. Conversely, if telomerase activity is high and telomere length is maintained, the cellular senescence is delayed. Peculiar inherited diseases are characterised by defective telomerase that indicates damaged cells. The scientists have been honoured for uncovering the fundamental mechanism in the cells that could lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

Likewise, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences offered the Nobel Prize in Physics with half of it going to Charles Kao from Standard Telecommunication Laboratories, Harlow, United Kingdom and Chinese University of Hong Kong for groundbreaking achievements concerning the transmission of light in fibers for optical communication. The other half was jointly presented to Willard Boyle and George Smith of Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, USA for their invention of the imaging semiconductor circuit (CCD sensor).

Low loss optical fibers are indispensable for our current communication society and global broadband communication such as the Internet. Light flowing in thin threads of glass has transferred the speed of telephony and data traffic like text, music, images and video extremely fast around the world. Kao has continuously improved fiber optics with innovative ideas after his breakthrough discovery of transmitting light signals via the glass fiber in 1966.

Boyle and Smith invented the first successful imaging technology using digital sensor Charge-Coupled Device technology that relies on photoelectric effect (elucidated by Albert Einstein, who bagged the Physics Nobel Prize in 1921) and revolutionised photography. Light could be captured electronically and easily processed for innumerable applications in entertainment, academic research and in our daily lives.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has bestowed the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009 jointly to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan from MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK, Thomas Steitz of Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA and Ada Yonath of Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel for their studies of the design and function of the ribosomes that control the chemistry in all living organisms by producing proteins. Understanding them is tantamount to comprehending the crucially enigmatic core process of how they translate vital DNA information into life.

The researchers have utilised X-ray crystallography to chart out the thorough positioning of innumerable atoms precisely that compose ribosome. They have illustrated the ribosome’s looks and its operation at the atomic level. Production of new antibiotics could benefit from these findings for saving lives and lessen human sufferings.

German author Herta Mueller, who with the concentration of poetry and the frankness of prose depicts the landscape of the dispossessed, received this year’s Nobel Prize in Literature. Mueller was born in 1953 in the German-speaking town Nitzkydorf in Banat, Romania. She made her debut with the collection of short stories Niederungen (1982), which was censored in Romania. Later, she published the uncensored version in Germany and Drueckender Tango in Romania.

Mueller narrates life in a small, German-speaking village where corruption, intolerance and repression were evident. Her works highlights the details of daily life under a stagnated dictatorship. In Atemschaukel (2009), Mueller traces the exile of German Romanians in the Soviet Union. She emigrated together with her husband, author Richard Wagner, to Germany. She now lives in Berlin.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has honoured President Barack Obama with the Nobel Peace Prize 2009 for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and promote sustainable cooperation between peoples. President Obama’s vision of and work for a world convincingly void of nuclear weapons has been laudably recognised by the committee.

The president has ushered in a distinct climate in international politics with multilateral diplomacy thereby emphatically encouraging the meaningful role of the United Nations and other international institutions that could play through dialogue and negotiations for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. His constructive commitment to addressing the issues that are triggering the menacing climate change on a global scale along with his conviction of upholding the values of democracy and human rights worldwide has been adulated.

President Obama has drawn the world’s attention and given the people at large the hope for a better future. The committee has endorsed Obama’s appeal: "Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges."

Similarly, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences respected American Professors Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University, Bloomington and Oliver Williamson of University of California, Berkeley with the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences for their analysis of economic governance. Elinor Ostrom has exhibited that common property could be successfully managed by user associations. Common property that is poorly managed should be either regulated by the central authorities or privatised.

Studying user-managed fish stocks, pastures, woods, lakes and groundwater basins, Ostrom had observed that resource users adhere to classical postulations and standard mechanisms for decision-making. They rely on enforcement processes to handle dissensions. She has demonstrated that economic analysis could characterise various forms and rules of social organisations for promoting successful outcomes. She becomes the first female Nobel Laureate to win the Nobel Economic Sciences Prize since its inception.

Oliver Williamson has affirmed that business firms would serve as structures for conflict resolution. Economic transactions are undertaken in markets as well as within firms, associations, households and agencies. Economic theory has illuminated the virtues and limitations of markets, but has been traditionally less attentive to alternative institutional arrangements. Markets and hierarchical organizations with governance formats differ in their approaches while solving conflicts. Markets often entail haggling and disagreement as drawbacks and the crucial authority that indulges in mitigating contentions of firms could be abused. Competitive markets perform relatively well because buyers and sellers can settle any distention with their trading partners.

Except for the Nobel Peace Prize which is handed out in Oslo, Norway, the remaining distinguished Nobel Prizes and the Prize in Economics are presented in Stockholm, Sweden on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. Each prize constitutes a special gold medal, a diploma and a monetary purse worth 10 million Swedish Kronors (SEK), which is currently equivalent to US$ 1.4 million.

(Source: The Rising Nepal, National English Daily,October 21,2009)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

October sky:If you're a fan of Star Wars, this is the month to check out the skies above

The October constellations are a mixed bag. At sunset, the summer constellations glow in the west, but are outshone by the winter constellations after midnight. So just when you thought summer was finally behind us, these stars tell you: no, not quite yet. On the bright side, a lot of the constellations have vaguely Star Wars-esque names, so if you're a Lucas fan, this is the month to check them out.

The Great Square, a constellation within Pegasus, will replace the Summer Triangle as the most prominent night constellation. Watch out for the distinctive W-shape of Cassiopeia in the north, and also Perseus nearby. The Andromeda Galaxy is very noticeable as a large bright elongated smudge, even through binoculars.
If you have a telescope, you can catch sight of dust lanes in our nearest galactic neighbour (see star map). If you have binoculars, check out the rather stiffly named star cluster, M-15 (what did I tell you about Star Wars?). Don't worry: they're far more interesting than they sound.

After midnight, look out for the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga. Right beside it, you'll see a large, smudgy patch. This is M45, the Pleiades, in the constellation. In the same constellation is Aldebaran, a bright orange star. If by this time you still have the energy for more stars, check out Orion (the hunter) in the southeast. Orion is easily one of the more distinctive constellations, with a belt formed by three stars set within the giant silhouette of a hunter.

Planet observing:
You'll have a great chance to see Mercury, that elusive little planet, in the eastern skies just before sunrise when it will be a little left of a brilliant Venus. Venus will be so brilliant you can pick it out fairly late into the morning.

Mars, in Gemini, is rising in the northeast well before midnight, and by dawn it will be climbing high into the southern sky.

Jupiter, in Capricornus, will be brighter than most stars and will set in the southwest around midnight.

Saturn, which was hidden behind the sun for a large part of September, will emerge in the dawn sky to the lower left of Venus, though it'll be considerably dimmer than other planets and stars. It'll be right beside Venus on 13 October.

If you tire of planets, the Orionid shower will be visible during the second half of October and will last for about a week or more. The best time to see these showers is early in the morning when moonlight won't blot them out. There will also be sporadic showers from other systems throughout the night.

Click on if you fancy vivid pictures of galaxies and other deep sky objects. These pictures were taken by NASA's newly repaired Hubble Space Telescope and are really terrific.

(Source: Nepali Times,National English Weekly,09 OCT 2009 - 15 OCT 2009)