Thursday, December 30, 2010

Astro Tour Sauraha 2010 concludes!

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) organize a tour to Sauraha during December 27-29,2010 to survey the sky quality and the natural heritage of Nepal. The team comprising 7 people from different sectors and headed by Rishi Shah, president of NASO. This is one the regular events that NASO organises since last year and also it's last event for the year 2010!

Wish you all a happy new year 2011!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reports of Geminids Observation out now!

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) conducted Geminids Observation and submitted the data to International Meteor Organization (IMO) for the first time. This submission was possible as Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, founder secretary of NASO and member of IMO joined International Meteor Conference (IMC) 2010 in Armagh, Northern Ireland (UK). He conducted the observation during December 13 and 14, 2010 and observed 30 meteors per hour ( avarage) on December 14, 2010. NASO has predicted 60 to 120 meteors per hour ( ZHR rate) before. Mr.Bhattarai explained "Every year, we have two great moments to enjoy these beautiful meteors one in August i.e. Perseids and another is Geminids with consistent number of meteors". Also, he requested all the Nepalese meteor lovers to wait until January 4 to enjoy Quadrantid Meteor Shower.

The reduced number of Geminids was because of the light pollution in Kathmandu valley and of course the peak time fell during a day time i.e. 16:45 NPT ( Nepalese Time)!

The report has already been submitted to IMO and how available on its official website.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Geminid Meteor Shower Tonight!

One of the best meteor showers of the year the Geminids are expected to exhibit consistently prolific flashes of shooting stars in the night of 14 to 15 December 2010. Circa sixty to one hundred and twenty streaks of tiny particles that burn up fairly seventy kilometers high above earth’s surface as they slam through our atmosphere with speeds of approximately thirty five kilometers per hour could be admirably observed in the sky well after the down ( eastern sky) to dusk ( western sky). Since the streaming meteor shower seems to be emanating from a point alias radiant in the sky lying vividly near glittering star Castor (Kasturi) in the zodiacal constellation Gemini (twins), it is conventionally identified as famed Geminid Meteor Shower. The origin of this moderately swift Geminid Meteor Shower is linked to mysterious object called Phaethon-3200 that looks like cross between a weird asteroid and quaintly burned-out comet. Though the shower peaks at 4:45 PM on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, bright and colourful Geminids could begin as early as 8:30 PM local time, because the shower’s radiant rises fairly high (approx. 15 degrees) in the eastern sky from 8:30 PM onwards and traces the sky till the next morning.

Comets generally unleash streams of dusty debris as they approach the Sun. When earth, speeding around its orbit, crosses some of these streams, we see the stunning meteor showers or dazzling shooting stars. However the Geminid meteor shower results from broken fragments from oddly pseudo asteroid-comet Phaethon-3200 with mysterious composition, which possesses an extremely elliptical 1.4-year-long orbit around our Sun and it is described as dormant comet coated with thick layer of dust. It is bereft of the characteristic comet tail and its spectra indicate peculiar rocky surface. Meteors created as Phaethon-3200 advances toward the Sun are arguably much denser than those usually created by comets.

Friday, December 10, 2010


The astro book drive for Nepal has been commenced successfully. Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) has received seven parcels of books. As NASO has been working in the field of astronomical development in Nepal, Astro book drive has been considered very important for its enhancement. The book drive is very essential to the people who have no direct reach to astronomy books. NASO would like to express its deep gratitude to Joan Chamberlin, jpl solar system ambassador of NASA; Jim Beidient from citizen sky; Dwight Lanpher; Ian Durham; Kirk Rogers; Alan Goff; Tim Brown; Sheri Breaux; Kristina Burnham; Steve Innes; Mike Uberty; Edward Antkowiak; Christine Marshall; George Whitney; Bob Dyer; Southern Maine Astronomers; Astronomical Society of Northern New England; St Anselm College in New Hampshire and all other associated persons who helped with this by sending books and by raising funds for sending those materials. Last but not the least, NASO would like to thank Thilina Heenatigala for making all this happen by founding the Astrobook drive.

Photos: Associated with the Book-drive

Monday, December 6, 2010

NAST celebrated 28th Anniversary on Monday, December 6,2010!

Nepal Academy of Science and Technology(NAST) celebrated its 28th anniversary at its premises this morning. Addressing the celebration,cheif guest science and Technology State Minister Mr. Indra Prasad Dhungel said that the state will insvent more in R & D in coming days. He explained that the government will be happy to start many interesting projects that Nepalese scientist are dong in their level if they seeks help from the state.

Meanwhile, Vince Chancelor Prof. Dr. Surendra Raj Kafle stressed that NAST will help to foster the scientific community in Nepal with its full strength. During the ceremony, several scientist from different areas and the NAST staffs serving over 25 years were awarded.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Night Sky In December

As darkness descends on earth the night sky becomes alive with twinkling stars, gleaming planets and other arcane entities that cover the entire sky magnificently. The zodiacal constellations of Capricornus (sea goat), Aquarius (water bearer), Pisces (fishes), Aries (ram), Taurus (bull) and Gemini (twins) are sprawling across the sky from western to eastern horizon. The Great Square of Pegasus (winged horse) is flying high dominatingly in evening sky. Constellations Andromeda (chained princess), Perseus (legendary hero), Lynx (feline animal), Camelopardalis (giraffe) and Auriga (charioteer) are unfurling towards northeast from Pegasus. Fulgent Capella (Brahma Ridaya) decorates Auriga. It is significantly fourty two light-years away. Constellations Orion (hunter), Eridanus (river), Cetus (whale) and Monoceros (unicorn) are spreading across southeastern sky. Circumpolar constellations Draco (dragon), Cepheus (king) , Cassiopeia (queen) and Ursa Major (big bear) are circling Polaris, Pole Star (Dhruba Tara) that resides in Ursa Minor (little bear). Elephant’s Trunk Nebula pushes enigmatically through the emission nebula and young star cluster complex IC1396 in Cepheus (king). Within the raw cosmic dusty debris weird proto-stars are lurking in this region. It is three thousand light-years away.

Elusive planet Mercury could be glimpsed in western sky after sundown during beginning of month. Later towards month’s end, it could be discerned in eastern sky before sunup, as it fleets across Sagittarius (archer). Wandering in Virgo, romantic planet mesmerizes planet-hunters with its charming brilliance in eastern sky before sunrise. Resplendent star Spica floats enthrallingly above it. Ringed planet Saturn glitters gorgeously below Spica. Mighty planet Jupiter shines alluringly after nightfall among the stars inhabiting the border between Aquarius and Pisces. Both Jupiter and greenish planet Uranus are relaxing below the Circlet asterism of Pisces. Jupiter’s Galilean moons (Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto) can be admired well with binoculars.

Astronomers have allegedly detected the first alien Jupiter-alike exo-planet HIP13044b revolving around a dying star HIP13044. It had entered our galaxy during the unfortunate process of intergalactic cannibalism that perhaps happened fairly between six to nine billion years ago.

Our Sun has been converting hydrogen in its core into helium for the last 4.5 billion years and would continue to do so for next five billion years until its hydrogen fuel is exhausted. The Sun would then turn into formidable gigantic red giant star and expand beyond earth’s orbit. It would gobble up the inner planets (Mercury and Venus) including earth.

Before notoriously breaking up and disintegrating in awesome fiery sparks during its reentry into upper atmosphere above the desert in central Australia, the refrigerator-sized aluminum-bodied Japanese space probe Hayabusa (meaning falcon in Japanese) jettisoned its fourty centimeter return capsule that was equipped with high-tech heat shield and parachute and had carried dust samples gathered directly from perplexingly peanut-shaped near-earth asteroid Itokawa. It landed unprecedentedly on thinly populated military-testing zone in Southern Australia outback known as the Woomera Prohibited Area in June this year. Hayabusa needed seven years to complete its six billion kilometers space journey to cruse untiringly to the asteroid and back to earth. Strict precaution were undertaken to minimize the risk of contamination of cosmic flakes by terrestrial substance.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) had launched Hayabusa in 2003. It rende zvoused (touch downed twice) with Itokawa in 2005. Its roller coaster ride-mimicking mission was beset with harrowing mishaps. En route to Itokawa, its solar cells were damaged by powerful solar flare. With limited energy supply it had to limp to the asteroid and crawled back to earth as fuel cells were dysfunctional thereby protracting total travel period. When it was parked in the vicinity of Itokawa, its altitude adjustment error ejected the exploration robot MINERVA that tumbled aimlessly into space.

Hayabusa’s precious cargo could probably disclose in detail Itokawa’s composition, physical features and topological structures. The detrimental effects on asteroid from space weathering and interaction with solar winds could be expounded. Since asteroids are the rocky leftover building blocks of planets and moons, Hayabusa’s findings could bestow distinctive insight into the formative years of our Solar System. The state of the capsule could lead to novel engineering advances that could be beneficial to future space missions for manufacturing better heat shields for spacecrafts.

New moon falls on 05 December, while full moon (popularly nicknamed cold full moon) would entrance moon-lovers on 21 December. Winter Solstice occurs in Northern Hemisphere at 23:38 hours Universal Time (UTC) on 21 December, when we can enjoy the longest night and shortest day of the year. Total lunar eclipse on 21 December will not be visible to us. It could be enjoyed from many parts of Europe, America, West Africa, eastern Australia and eastern and northern Asia. Christmas is joyfully celebrated on 25 December. 31 December marks the last day of year 2010. The accompanying star map approximately portrays night sky above Kathmandu at around twenty hours local time during mid-December 2010.

By: Er. Rishi Shah