Monday, December 3, 2018

Registration Opens for the Orientation Program in Province Three!

With the successful orientation in province 1, we are pleased to announce the second series to be held in province 3! Students who are in high school level and would like to learn more about our asteroid search and astronomy olympiad program can join us at Southwestern State College, Basundhara, Kathmandu on Saturday, December 8, 2018! Registration is free and remains open till until before midnight, Friday, December 7, 2018!



The program will provide participants with first-hand information on our asteroid search program and national astronomy program in person. Participants will also get the latest updates about these programs at the orientation.

About Asteroid Search:
All-Nepal Asteroid Search Campaign (ANASC) is a hands-on astronomy program for the high school students with a unique opportunity to make original discoveries of asteroids. It provides high-quality data to the students to get the taste of astronomical research and discoveries. Prior to each search campaign, two-day workshop is organized in order to familiarize students in a campaign for their successful discoveries!

The program accepts thirty-teams each campaign and runs for several times around a year. Students can form a team of a maximum of five members to participate in this campaign. For more information, www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/asteroidsearch

About the Astronomy Olympiad Program:
National Astronomy Olympiad is an early stage talent hunt program in Nepal. High school tudents of age 14-20 are eligible for the competition. It's an annual program hence accepts application once in a year. Application for the 6th National Astronomy Olympiad 2019 will open in December 2018! For more information, www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/olympiad

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Sunday, December 2, 2018

Interaction at Central Campus of Technology, Dharan!

On November 30, an interaction was an organized program at the Central Campus of Technology, Hattisar, Dharan to discuss the opportunities in the field of astronomy and space science in Nepal. The program was possible as Free Students Union at the campus invited us to host an event for the physics students at the campus. 

Photo 1: Mr. Chandra Prkash Sah, Head of Department of Physics, Central Campus of Technology, Dharan and Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman, Nepal Astronomical Society interacting during the event.
Photo 2: Mr. Chandra Prakash Sah, Head of Department of Physics, Central Campus of Technology, Dharan addressing the students and highlighting need of collaborative efforts for research activities at the Department.
We came in contact with the campus authority in April 2018 during our event for the International Day of Human Space Flight (IDHSF2018) in Itahari International College, Morang and had a follow-up meeting in September 2018 to explore the possible collaboration. We believe this event has opened a new door for both of us and an opportunity to work for the students at the campus.

We would like to express our sincere thanks to campus authorities especially Mr. Chandra Prakash Sah, Head of Department and the Free Students Union at the campus. We look forward to working with you!

If you are studying B.Sc. physics at one of the campuses in Nepal and would like to invite us to the interaction, please feel free to contact our office. We will be happy to share our experience, expertise, and resources.

Friday, November 30, 2018

All-Nepal Asteroid Search Campaign Concludes in Province One!

All-Nepal Asteroid Search Campaign, September 3-30, 2018 was primarily focused at the province one concluded with sixty-four preliminary discoveries! The discoveries were made by the seventeen teams of the students from six different schools. During the campaign total of ninety preliminary discoveries were made by participants where thirty-three discoveries were done by our members/volunteers at different parts of Nepal!

Photo 1: Students and teacher from the Delhi Public School, Dharan receiving certificates from Mr. Gobinda Thapa, Itahari International College, Morang. 

Photo 2: Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) and Itahari International College (ICC) officials during the ceremony. 

Ms. Sayari Neupane, one of the participants at the campaign and class XI student at Eureka Secondary School, Dharan shares, "It was really a great experience of mine in participating in all asteroid research campaign. Our team learned many new things. It is really a good platform for those who are interested in astronomy. This program taught me new and unknown things about astronomy. I was unaware that many types of research in astronomy are done through a computer or a laptop. But by participating in this program, I learned the use of technology in astronomy. I recommend this program to everyone who is interested in learning new things".

For more information/updates about our asteroid search campaign, please visit www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/asteroidsearch

During the program, Mr. Bijaya Chandra Luitel, absolute winner at the 3rd National Astronomy Olympiad 2016 (NAO2016) and the 4th National Astronomy Olympiad 2017 (NAO2017). He shared his experience participating at the national and international astronomy olympiads. He also provided information on how interested students can prepare for the upcoming 6th National Astronomy Olympiad 2019!

Photo 3: Mr. Bijaya Chandra Luitel, the absolute winner at NAO2016 and NAO2017 and Honorable Mention (HM) holders at IOAA2016 and IOAA2017, sharing his experience among the participants.
Mr. Luitel received two Honorable Mention (HM) awards representing Nepal at the international level. He participated at the 10th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA2016), Bhubaneshwar, India and the 11th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA2017), Phuket, Thailand respectively. 

For more information/updates on our national astronomy olympiad program, please visit www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/olympiad

Happy hunting and happy exploring! 

Monday, November 26, 2018

Are you ready to watch NASA's InSight Lander Decending to Mars?

It's not surprising to see how the world has changed since we started doing outreach! We started our outreach efforts in Nepal while Nepal has dominance of dial-up internet service! And most importantly, it was not accessible as it is now and cheap! We have heard of the arrangement for the public to view moon landing during Apolo 11 mission in Kathmandu in the 1960s! Now its time to witness mars landing right from your own space tonight! Isn't it exciting? 

Photo: An artist's concept depicts NASA's InSight lander after it has deployed its instruments on the Martian surface. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

***Click here to watch live***

If you are wondering about the estimated timing for different activities during the landing, below is the list prepared for people living in Nepal

InSight, short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, is a Mars lander designed to give the Red Planet its first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It is the first outer space robotic explorer to study in-depth the "inner space" of Mars: its crust, mantle, and core. Studying Mars' interior structure answers key questions about the early formation of rocky planets in our inner solar system - Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars - more than 4 billion years ago, as well as rocky exoplanets. InSight also measures tectonic activity and meteorite impacts on Mars today. The lander uses cutting-edge instruments, to delve deep beneath the surface and seek the fingerprints of the processes that formed the terrestrial planets. It does so by measuring the planet's "vital signs": its "pulse" (seismology), "temperature" (heat flow), and "reflexes" (precision tracking). This mission is a part of NASA's Discovery Program for highly focused science missions that ask critical questions in solar system science.

The InSight Mars lander has two science objectives that support the Mission's science goals:
  • Formation & Evolution: Understand the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets through investigation of the interior structure and processes of Mars.
  • Tectonic Activity: Determine the present level of tectonic activity and meteorite impact rate on Mars.
Interested to learn more about the mission and latest updates? Click here to visit the official site of the mission. 

Happy watching! Let's make history to share with our generations to come! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Webinar with the students at Gaurishankar English Boarding School, Arghakhachi!

Mr. Bijaya Chandra Luitel
Recently, I conducted a webinar for tenth graders at Gaurishankar English Boarding School, Arghakhachi which was conducted with the help of Mr. Sujab Bhusal, one of the associate members of Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO). 

In the webinar, we focused on discussing mainly three things: what Science is and the history of the development of the Scientific method, what futures are possible in the Sciences for a student who will be appearing in the SEE exams soon and finally the possibility of enrichment opportunities like the Olympiads for students in high school. 

Firstly, we discussed what Science is all about. The students had a reverence towards Science and summarized their feelings towards Science thusly: “Science is the deepest form of everything”. However, in order to grasp a future in Science, it is very important for potential students of Science to realize that Science is a method of inquiry, something which I stressed by citing several examples from historical figures. Consequently, we discussed Aristotle and Galileo, focusing on the latter’s experiments with inclined planes which resulted in the understanding that all objects, regardless of their weights, fall to the Earth’s surface when dropped from the same height at the same time, if their densities are sufficient to resist most of the drag caused due to Earth’s atmosphere. 

Next, we talked about future opportunities in the Sciences. There were many students in the audience who wanted non-traditional roles (roles in the context of Nepal) in Science, like becoming educators. We discussed some of these opportunities and the specific skill sets required for such roles. We also chatted about the importance of a clear motivation for studying Science in order to achieve good results in it, discussing the prevalence of practices whereby students are encouraged and even forced to study Science if they have good marks. 

Lastly, we engaged in a session whereby we spoke on matters related to Olympiads, specifically the process of taking part in Olympiads and how to best prepare for them. We focused mainly on the Astronomy Olympiad as that happens to be an area of personal expertise for me. 

In conclusion, the webinar was a good experience for me in interacting with Science enthusiasts in our country. I am hopeful that the experience was equally good for the students participating in the webinar. 

[Mr. Bijaya Chandra Luitel was an absolute winner at the National Astronomy Olympiad held in 2016 and 2017. He received Honorable Mention (HM) at International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) in 2016 and 2017 held in Bhubaneshwar, India and Phuket, Thailand respectively]

Barnard’s Star b: A Second Closest Neighbor in the Family of Exoplanets

Dr. Suman Satyal
More than 3800 exoplanets (planets that are outside our Solar System) have been discovered to date. This number is low compared to the known ~300 billion stars in our home galaxy – Milky Way, where each star has a probability of hosting one or more planets. Nevertheless, given the fact that the first exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b, was discovered only 23 years ago and the majority of the exoplanets were discovered in the past 10 years, this exponentially growing discovery rate is a great success. So, what triggered this discovery rate? Well, part of this is due to the advancement in the detection technology. The state-of-the-art ground-based and space-based telescopes have gotten bigger and better than ever. The humungous success of Kepler Space Telescope, which is now credited for the discovery of more than 2,600 exoplanets before being put to sleep after 9 years in service, has motivated the community for even more systematic searches. Recently, another space telescope called TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) was launched to search for exoplanets orbiting 200,000 brightest stars in the sky and has already discovered one planet and several other planetary candidates. In addition, here on the Earth, Mauna Kea in Hawaii and the La Silla observatories house some of the best ground-based telescopes.

Two major detection techniques are widely used in the search of exoplanets – Transit and Radial Velocity. In the transit method, a small dip in the stellar flux is measured when an orbiting planet eclipses that star. Therefore, every time a planet orbits around a star, that is once every year, a periodic dip is seen in the light curves, which are then fitted to extract other planetary orbital parameters to confirm its existence. A sample light curve is shown in Fig. 1.


A star-planet system always orbits about their barycenter, the center of mass of one or more bodies. Depending on the size of the planet, the barycenter can be within the stellar diameter or can be well outside of it. In either case, the star orbiting around the barycenter, as seen from the Earth, causes the starlight to get blue-shifted and red-shifted. Blueshift occurs when the star orbits towards the Earth and the redshift occur when it orbits away. By measuring these shifts, which produces a sinusoidal curve, planetary parameters such as its orbital period, the distance from the star and its minimum mass (m.sini) can be calculated. This is called the Radial Velocity method and the curves derived from this method – RV curve. Fig. 2 shows the RV curve of the first exoplanet, 51 Pegasi b. The nomenclature of the exoplanets follows a simple rule: Star name followed by lower case alphabets b, c, d, etc. Hence, 51 Pegasi is the star name and b means the first discovered planet in this system. The next planet (if any) will be named 51 Pegasi c. The not-yet-named stars get their names from the parent telescopes.


Bigger planets that are closer to their host star are easier to detect because they create large and prominent depth in the light curves as well as a large amplitude oscillations in the RV curves. In addition, it is favorable if the inclination angle (i) of the line of sight (as seen from the Earth) is at 90 degrees with the planet-star rotational plane. If this angle and the planetary mass gets smaller, it becomes harder to get the desired signal for the given telescope sensitivity. This seems to be the primary challenge for the recently discovered exoplanet orbiting a nearby star called Barnard’s Star, even after collecting the data for 20 years. Multiple researchers from various international institutes were involved in this search and their finding was published in the Nature Letters [I. Ribas et al. Nature 563, 365-368 (2018)].

Barnard’s star is the second closest star from the Solar System (5.9 light years) following the triple star system of Alpha Centauri (4.3 light years) and lies in the constellation of Ophiuchus. It is an M-type red dwarf star with a mass of 0.163 Solar-mass, a radius of 0.178 Solar-radii and effective temperature 3278 degrees, Kelvin. It is much smaller and less luminescent than the Sun, but much more active due to its unpredictable flare activities. The reported planet candidate in the system, Barnard’s star b (also called GJ 699 b) is a super-earth with a minimum mass of 3.2 Earth-mass, orbital period of 233 days, and orbits at an average distance of 0.404 au from its star. One of the caveats of the RV method is that it only provides the minimum mass (m.sini). Therefore, without knowing the inclination angle (i) discussed earlier, the actual planetary mass cannot be calculated. This angle can be computed by using the transit method or the direct imaging, but neither was applied for this system (probably due to the underlying technical challenges). This means, the actual mass of the Barnard’s Star b can be much bigger than the reported 3.2 Earth-mass. As discussed earlier, the RV method favors large planets; however, the researchers for the first time have managed to use this technique to find such a small planet. This is another breakthrough in the detection techniques in recent years. The RV curve for the planet was obtained using eight different telescopes, which are listed in Fig. 3 along with their respective data points.


So, does the discovery of Barnard’s star b has some significance to our quest of finding life outside the Solar System, or is it just another statistics in the exoplanet family? It is probably the latter. We are closer than ever to find a planet that is similar to the Earth in terms of its size, distance from its host and the host itself being similar the Sun-like star. A list of such potentially habitable exoplanets can be found in www.phl.upr.edu. The distance of the exoplanets in the list extends from 4 LY to as far as 1200 LY. The near Earth-like exoplanet would be of more value to us because the interstellar travel (in a long shot) would be easier and more practical. Barnard’s star is a better candidate-system for this purpose as this is the second closest planet from the Solar System, which is located only 5.9 LY away. This distance may sound long enough for the travel technology we have, but with respect to the size of the Milky Way galaxy, which has the diameter of 100,000 LY, the planet is our second neighbor (after Proxima Centauri b) at the arm’s length. 

On the other hand, this planet may not be habitable by the Earth’s standard. The criteria for the habitability and the habitable zone is another big topic (for another day), and highly debatable, in the exoplanetary science. Based on the Solar System, a general definition of a habitable zone has been proposed – a region around a star where water can exist in the liquid state. Then, if a planet has a size similar to that of the Earth (hence the right amount of gravity) and orbits within the stellar habitable zone, it is likely to host life, the life as we know on the Earth. For solar-type stars, this distance is about 1 au (the Earth-Sun distance). Barndard’s Star b lies well outside of the habitable zone in the snow line, with a temperature close to -170 degree centigrade and if any water does exist, it should be in the frozen state. Hence, making it a less probable candidate to host life. The other challenge for the life in this planet is the star itself, which is highly active and engulfs the planet with high-energy radiation. This active nature of red dwarf (or M dwarf) stars, in general, creates a challenging and hostile environment for any planets to host life. The insolation from these stars are so low compared to the Sun that the habitable zone lies extremely close to their surface. Thus, any planet in the habitable zone is likely to be tidally locked which results in the extreme variation of temperature in the planetary surface not favoring the Earth-like life. 

It is a very exciting time for those who are interested in astronomy and astrophysics or exoplanets in particular. From not knowing what is beyond our horizon to traveling across the Solar System and looking through the galaxy into the universe and be able to comprehend its vastness is the greatest achievement of the humankind. We may not experience the interstellar travel in our lifetime, but we will definitely have set a foundation stone for it. In the next decade or so, we will have found thousands of exoplanets, some within the stellar habitable zone. We shall also have made a major breakthrough in space technologies and constructing spaceships. Then, we will enter a space era. 

In my personal opinion, we are definitely not alone in the Universe. I believe that life does exist out there. It may take one year, or it may take hundreds of years to find the extra-terrestrial beings. On the other hand, we may not even find it at all due to our limitations in the technology. The life on earth may come to extinction (the asteroid strikes, the climate change, or some other epidemics) years before we could probe deeper into the other habitable worlds. The other possibility is that the terrestrial beings may find us even before we can make it to the Galilean moons. In either case, I believe that life does exist in the Universe. We cannot find it does not mean it is not out there. 

May the force be with us.

(Dr. Suman Satyal is an exoplanetary scientist at the Department of Physics, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX, 76019, USA and a member of the scientific advisory committee at Nepal Astronomical Society-NASO).

Monday, November 19, 2018

Call for 6th National Astronomy Olympiad 2019: Logo Competition!

Are you someone who is good on graphic designing but have not found a platform to showcase your talent? If yes, National Astronomy Olympiad: Logo Competition might be one of the best platforms for you! The best logo will receive a cash prize of NRs. 5,000/- and a certificate during a program to be organized in Kathmandu. Also, the logo will be used as the official logo of the '6th National Astronomy Olympiad to be held in 2019'.

The call for application to our 6th National Astronomy Olympiad 2019: Logo Competition is already active and will accept entries till November 30, 2018! Click here to submit your logo.


This competition is designed to provide an opportunity for more people to get involved with our astronomy Olympiad program. It will also provide the platform to share their creativity at the national, regional and global level! Anyone who wants to share their creativity and wish to get national and international exposure can submit their work. 

Rules and regulations: 
  • The logo must include the following themes: Astronomy, Education & Nepal and should reflect the 6th National Astronomy Olympiad 2019
  • The submission is free of charge and one person can submit only one logo. 
  • Submitted design must contain the original idea/creation of the designer. 
  • The logo should be 600 x 600 pixels in size. 
  • A designer must submit a description of his/her logo in no more than 100 words. Design without description will not be evaluated accepted for competition. 

Submission Deadline is November 30, 2018! Logo submitted after the deadline will not be evaluated.


For more information about national astronomy olympiad program, visit: www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/olympiad

Friday, November 16, 2018

Get Ready for the Leonid Meteor Shower Peak on Saturday, November 18, 2018!

Are waiting for a moment to find shooting star at the starry night over Nepal? If yes, then start preparing for your backpack to find one of the dark locations around you for the observation! If you can't move due to several reasons, you can still enjoy the view from your rooftop or nearby open space!

IMPORTANT NOTE:
THE ONLY THING YOU WILL NEED TO ENJOY THE VIEW IS PERSISTENCE IN YOUR STAY IN AN OPEN SPACE! 

If you are reading this line, we assume you are ready to go further to prepare yourself for the observation! Welcome to the world of meteor astronomy <3

While saying you need to prepare beforehand for the observation, you might be wondering what is supposed to prepare for? Below is the list of things you need to be prepared beforehand if you really into meteor observation, at least for few hours!




Where should we look for those meteors?
Well, the name itself tells us half of the story in this part! As the name suggests, the radiant is located at the Leo, Zodiac Constellation, we are primarily supposed to look at the region around/nearby this constellation!

How do you recognize Leo in the sky?
Leo´s most notable feature is a backward question mark called the Sickle, which forms part of Leo´s mane. At the very bottom of the Sickle is Regulus, a blue-white star. In the easternmost part of Leo, is a triangle of stars, giving form to Leo´s tail and hind legs. The brightest star in this triangle is named Denebola. The rest of the stars in the constellation of Leo form the body of the lion with Regulus depicting the lion´s heart.
How to find Leo in the night sky over Nepal during Shower?
Please refer to the sky map available in this blog for more insight. The map shows the sky over Kathmandu at 1:30 am, Sunday, November 18, 2018. (As per Nepali calendar it is still a Saturday Night-a day is from one sunrise to another sunrise)!

When is the best time to observe?
The best time to observe Leonid Meteor Shower this year is between Saturday Saturday midnight to Sunday morning before sunrise. To be more specific from 12:30 am -5:30 am on Sunday, November 18, 2018!

Does the observation need any equipment?
You don't need any additional equipment! your eyes are enough to enjoy the view! If you are wearing glasses, don't forget to wear it! 

It will be very cold outside during the night, what to do?
Well, this is the reason many people avoid watching this excellent celestial view! You need to keep yourself warm as much as possible. For this, you can wear multiple layers of clothes which keeps you warm. For a better view, you can use chair/s or bed to lay down and enjoy the night sky!

Still did not get an idea of how you could enjoy this spectacular meteor shower? Click on the photo to watch the video.


 Happy Hunting! Feel free to share your experience with us a comment on this post! 

Thursday, November 15, 2018

NASO and MECH Engineering Sign MoU for better Astronomy Outreach in Nepal!

We are pleased to announce that we signed a MoU with MECH Engineering and Trading Pvt. Ltd. today at its office to strengthen our astronomy outreach in Nepal for the next three years! MECH Engineering has been selling quality telescopes especially SkyWatcher and Celestron brands in the Nepali market.
Photo: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) and Er. Arket Raj Maharjan, Managing Director at MECH Engineering and Trading Pvt. Ltd. after the MoU signing ceremony at MECH Engineering office. Credit: Manisha Dwa/NASO

As a part of the MoU, MECH Engineering will be sponsoring 60 mm telescope for the winner of the National Space Art Competition till 2020. The winner of the 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018 will receive the first of three telescopes this year! Excited to know who will receive the telescope? Stay tuned with us!

NASO and MECH Engineering started working together since 2014 beginning of the first National Astronomy Olympiad 2014 (NAO2014) where Er. Maharjan hosted telescope orientation and handling sessions to closed camp students. Click here to know MECH Engineering and its services.

We believe, this event has opened an era of partnership between the astronomical community and business groups in Nepal. Following the preparation for the celebration of IAU100 next year, it is considered as one of the progressive efforts by the Nepali community to be a part of the global celebration.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

5th National Astronomy Olympiad 2018 Conlcudes with two internaional participations!

The 5th National Astronomy Olympiad held this year concluded with two international participation! This year Students qualified for the international Olympiads were facilitated to participate at the 23rd International Astronomy Olympiad 2018 (IAO2018) in Colombo, Sri-Lanka & the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2018 (IOAA2018) in Beijing, China respectively.

Mr. Bishal Baral (6th at NAO2018), Rato Bangala School, Patan and Mr. Hardik Shrestha (8th at NAO2018) at the 23rd International Astronomy Olympiad, October 6-14, 2018, Colombo, Sri-Lanka. Mr. Baral received a special award for the best result among the newly participating countries for Nepal.

Photo 1: Team Nepal at the 23rd International Astronomy Olympiad (XXIII IAO), October 4-14, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka. From left: Mr. Manisha Dwa, Mr. Hardik Shrestha, Mr. Bishal Baral, Mr. Suresh Bhattarai respectively.

Photo 2: Team Nepal during a team parade at the 23rd International Astronomy Olympiad (XXIII IAO), October 6-14, 2018, Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Top five students at the 5th NAO2018 participated at the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics, Beijing, China, November 3-11, 2018. Though we could not receive any awards at this Olympiad, our students had their consistent performance. Team Nepal members were Mr. Shronim Tiwari, Capital College and Research Centre (CCRC), Kathmandu; Mr. Bedant Lohani, Rato Bangala School, Patan; Mr. Shubham Sharma, Budhanilkantha School, Kathmandu; Mr. Rubek Poudel, Arniko Higher Secondary School, Biratnagar, and Mr. Pratik Bhandari, The Times International College respectively.

Photo 3: Team Nepal during a team parade at the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA2018), November 3-11, 2018, Beijing, China.

Photo 4: Team Nepal at the 12th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA2018), November 3-11, 2018, Beijing, China. From left: Ms. Manisha Dwa & Mr. Suresh Bhattarai (Front row), Mr. Bedant Lohani, Mr. Pratik Bhandari, Mr. Rubek Poudel, Mr. Shronim Tiwari and Mr. Shubham Sharma respectively.

National Astronomy Olympiad (NAO) program is an early talent hunt program for the high school students of age 14-20 years. It creates a merit list of the students qualified for the two international olympiads: International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA),  International Astronomy Olympiad (IAO) & regional olympiad: Asian-Pacific Astronomy Olympiad (APAO) respectively.

For more information about National Astronomy Olympiad (NAO) program in Nepal, please visit www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/olympiad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Total of Ninety Seven Asteroids Discovered during September Campaign in Nepal!

All-Nepal Asteroid Search Campaign, September 3-30, 2018 which was focused on province 1 with 17 different schools from the province resulted with ninety-seven asteroids discovered! The discoveries are of preliminary status at the moment. There will be follow-ups for the discovered objects and if confirmed will receive provisional status. We look forward to some good news in the coming days!

Total of 30 teams worked on the search. Among them, seventeen schools were from province 1 and two from province 3. Rest of the team were from NASO volunteers and members! Total of 104 people worked on this search during the campaign. 


Photo 1: Group photo of the participants during a two-day orientation program held on September 4-5, 2018 at Itahari International College (IIC), Morang.
Photo 2: Students learning to use astrometric and discussing possible problems that may encounter during the campaign.
During 2018-2019, we decided to run the campaigns with a focus to a particular province at a time and the September campaign was one of them! With the success of the campaign, we are currently working with science teachers in other provinces! If you are a science teacher and would like to bring this program to your school or province, please do not hesitate to contact our office. Looking for the latest updates about our next campaign? Feel free to visit www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/asteroidsearch.

We look forward to coming to our city! Happy hunting! 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

NASO 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018 Public Choice Award Announced!

We are pleased to announce Ms. Shruti Gurung, Class 8, Adhyayan School, Kathmandu as the winner of the Public Choice Award of the NASO 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018!

Her artwork 'Human Beyond Humanity' scored the highest points to become the winner this year. As a part of the award, she will receive a gift hamper and a certificate during a special ceremony in Kathmandu.
Photo: An artwork tilted 'Human Beyond Humanity' by Ms. Shruti Gurung of Adhyayan School, Kathmandu

As a part of her explanation for this art, she writes, "Space arts, also known as astronomical art is the term for the genre of modern age artistic expression which shows the different wonders of the universe. There have been the Visual Arts exploring space in their imagination for many decades. I also got an opportunity to express my thoughts and imagination through 'Space Art Competition'. When I was a child, I used to think that space is a very big place where we could do anything. I used to imagine about the space and think that there are many planets and stars. Also, I used to think that aliens were living in those planets. I wished to go to space, explore many planets and stars and make aliens friends. So, in my art, to freshen up my imaginations, I made this space art. In my art, there are many planets, stars and humans becoming friends with aliens. Space is bright, there are rockets and there are mountains which reminds me of my country, Nepal. My art is all based on most of the children’s imagination and hope everyone will get some sort of information."

The voting was open during October 4-10, 2018 on our facebook page and twenty shortlisted artworks of the NASO 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018 were available for voting.

For more information about our world space week activities in Nepal, please visit: www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/spaceweek

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Voting Opens for the Public Choice Award: NASO 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018!

Today is the first day of the World Space Week 2018 (WSW2018) and we have opened voting for the top 20 arts submitted at the NASO 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018!

The voting remains open till midnight, October 10, 2018! Click here to vote for your best space art.


How to vote?
The voting is currently available at the facebook. Any Facebook user can click here to vote for their choice.

Here is the process to vote for your choice of art:
1) Log in to your facebook
2) Click here to go to the 'NASO 2nd National Space Art Competition 2018' Album
3) Like and share the picture/s you like

How do we count points/scores?
We will calculate scores for each like as 1 and share as 2 points.

The highest scorers will be announced as the winner of the public choice and will be awarded gift hamper and certificate.

The result of the competition (for the telescope) will be announced on November 10, 2018.

Happy votings! 

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

NASO at XXXth General Assembly of International Astronomical Union in August 2018!

Our participation at the XXX General Assembly of International Astronomical Union at Vienna, Austria during August 20-31, 2018 remained very successful with many developments!

Below are the highlights of our participation at the IAU2018 this year!

Observation of the IAU GA: 
Unlike last year, we took active observer role at the IAU election which helped us to understand the process of election and the procedure of the formalities. It also helped us to be informed about the new membership scheme at IAU: Junior membership for the fresh Ph.D. graduate. 

Photo: A Panel of newly appointed executives of IAU for the year 2018-2021.

Meeting with Newly Appointed President of IAU:
We had a quick meeting with the newly elected president of IAU Prof. Dr. Ewine F. van Dishoeck and was very impressed with her observation of our activities in Nepal. After the interaction with her, we found that though Nepal is not an institutional member at IAU and there is no individual member from Nepal, IAU has put special attention towards Nepal. We invited her to visit Nepal during her tenure. 


Photo: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at Ms. Manisha Dwa, project coordinator at NASO with Prof. Dr. Prof. Dr. Ewine F. van Dishoeck during at IAU GA2018.


Poster Presentation:

We had two posters during the second week of the meeting as a part of the Office of IAU Astronomy for Development (OAD) where we explained our activities to the audience. The posters help us to meet many people with similar interest and search for possible future collaborations.
Photo 3: Ms. Manisha Dwa, project coordinator at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) with the visitor to her poster after the explanation. 



Photo 4: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) during his poster presentation.

Meeting with Scientific Advisors: 
During the meeting, we had met with our scientific advisors Prof. Dr. Edward Guinan and Prof. Dr. Michele Gerbaldi and discussed/review the past activities and discuss future activities. Our discussion was mainly focused on the research projects/works for the university level students in Nepal.

Meeting with potential partners and collaborators:
During the meeting, we met many people and discussed the possibility of joint initiatives in the future. We had met with the representative from IAU100, IUCAA, IAU, OAD, OAO, Globe at Night, GTTP/GHOU, OAE (proposed) and researchers from different universities. 

Meeting at Nepali Embassy in Vienna:
We had pleasure meeting H.E. Mr. Prakash Kumar Suvedi, Ambassador for Embassy of Nepal in Vienna and Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations and other international organisations in Vienna, Austria.

Photo 5: Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) with H.E. Mr. Prakash Kumar Suvedi, Ambassador for Embassy of Nepal in Vienna and Permanent Mission of Nepal to United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, Austria. Credit: Manisha Dwa/NASO


During the meeting, we discussed the need of Nepal's membership at United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UN COPUOS), International Astronomical Union (IAU) in order to foster space science and astronomy/astrophysics research activities in Nepal. We highlighted the importance of the memberships of these organizations to Nepal. H.E. explained that the membership procedure for the UNCOPUOS is in the positive direction and soon Nepal will be a member officially. He explained it is now much easier for the permanent mission to look into such opportunities after the mission office has been shifted from Gevena, Switzerland. 

We also had met with participants from Nepal: Mr. Jayanta Acharya-National Outreach Coordinator (NOC) at IAU Office of Astronomy for Outreach (OAO), Mr. Devendra Raj Upadhyay- Assistant Professor at Amrit Campus (ASCOL), Tribhuvan University(TU) and Mr. Bindesh Tripathi, undergraduate student at St. Xavier's College, Maitighar, Tribhuvan University (TU).

We would like to thank IAU officials for providing us the financial support for our successful participation. We would also like to thank Mr. Narayan Dhital, GNSS group lead at NASO currently working at DLR, Germany for the logistics!



Monday, July 23, 2018

Join us during the longest Total Lunar Eclipse of the 21st Century!

On July 27-28, 2018, humanity on earth will witness the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. In order to provide you an opportunity in Nepal, we will be hosting an observation on that night from our office with our different telescopes.

Don't want to miss the opportunity? Click here to register now! 


Attending the event means you get a first-hand opportunity to meet and ask your relevant questions on eclipses to our people.



Registered participants are welcomed after 11:30 PM, July 27, 2018. The observation will be open till 4:30 AM, July 28, 2018. 


Don't want to miss the opportunity? Click here to register now!


We have already coordinated with the Department of Hydrology & Meteorology, Nepal for the 'Special Weather Bulletin for Total Lunar Eclipse'. Let's hope for the clear weather!

If you have any queries, please free to send a text message as TLE2018 <Space>Your Name <Space>Your Queries at 9818734326.


Let's witness this unique celestial event with your family at our place! Looking forward to welcoming you!

Friday, July 20, 2018

NAO2018: Seventeen students selected for the Closed Camp, August 3-10, 2018!

We are pleased to announce the result of the pre-closed camp of the 5th National Astronomy Olympiad 2018. The pre-closed camp was held during May 25-June 30, 2018.


The first round i.e. entrance exam of the 5th National Astronomy Olympiad 2018 was held on Saturday, February 17, 2018. Based on the performance of the participants, a total of thirty-three (33) students were selected for the second round i.e. pre-closed camp.

During the pre-closed camp, students were assigned to built astronomical instruments, prepare reports and presentation. They were also assigned to community outreach as a part of the session. As a part of the pre-closed camp, more than four thousand (4,000) students from thirty-nine (39) schools at ten (10) different districts at four different provinces namely province one, province three, province Gankadi and province five got an opportunity to witness the sun via solar eclipse glasses and know more about the astronomy. 

Selected seventeen students will undergo closed camp session to be held at Southwestern State College, Basundhara, Kathmandu during August 3-10. 2018. 

Congratulations to all the selected students! We wish them all the best for your best performance during the closed camp! 

Interested to be a part of it but missed to apply this year? Get all the updates here: www.nepalastronomicalsociety.org/olympiad

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Meet and Greet an Astronaut with Dr. Sandra H. Magnus and Award Ceremony!

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) in association with Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) organized an event to award and motivate the young generation working in the field of science in Nepal. The chief guest of the event was Dr. Sandra Magnus (Former Astronaut of NASA) who helped students in the program to know about space science and its possibilities in our environment.



The event was attended by around 150 people which included mainly students and teachers who had their keen interest in space science. They all were glad to know about space science from the person who had already been 135 days in space. "Ask an Astronaut" session helped students to present their question and know about science and technology.


Dr. Sandra H Magnus is an American engineer and a former NASA astronaut. She served as the executive director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the world's largest technical society dedicated to the global aerospace profession from October 2012 until January 2018. While at NASA, Dr. Magnus worked extensively with the international community, including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as well as with Brazil on the facility-type payload.


In the very occasion, the Second  Women in Science Awards were also given to Ms. Shreeti Shrestha, B.E. Computer Engineering student at Pulchowk Engineering Campus, IOE, TU and Er. Promisha Mishra, Computer Engineer at Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) respectively. The award included a cash prize, trophy and certificates. 


Also, the winner of First National Space Art Competition were awarded with telescopes, medals and certificates respectively. It gave them more motivation for continuing their passion in the field of science.

The winners of 4th National Astronomy Olympiad 2017 were also awarded by Dr. Sandra Magnus. Many professor and teacher along with chief guest Dr. Sandra Magnus presented their topics to help the student know about the possibilities of science and technology.

This year, the cash prize is sponsored by Er. Rishi Shah, Academician at NAST and patron at NASO and Trophies and certificates are sponsored by Er. Nancy Dwa, one of the Board of Directors at NASO respectively.

Monday, May 28, 2018

2nd NASO Women in Science Award 2018 Announced!

We are pleased to announced the result of the 2nd NASO Women in Science Award 2018! This year the student and professional categories will be awarded to Ms. Shreeti Shrestha, B.E. Computer Engineering student at Pulchowk Engineering Campus, IOE, TU and Er. Promosha Mishra, Computer Engineer at Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) respectively. The award includes cash prize, trophy and certificates. 

Shreeti Shrestha says, It’s really a great honour to receive this prestigious award of NASO as Women in Science Ambassador 2018. Winning this award is more like a motivation than an achievement. Thank you NASO for boosting me up to keep pushing forward and make more contributions in science in days to come.

Er. Promisha Mishra expressed, "Lets move one step ahead to create women's confidence in science. Lets share the achievements of women in science. One step towards towards recognition and honor and inspirations. This year lets work to women's networking for science."

This year, we received total of 40 applications from eligible candidates from Nepal and abroad which were carefully reviewed via three stages.

Dr. Sandra Magnus, former American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and NASA Astronaut will distribute the awards during special event at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), Khumaltar, Lalitpur on Wednesday, May 30, 2018!

This year, the cash prize is sponsored by Er. Rishi Shah, Academician at NAST and patron at NASO and Trophies and certificates are sponsoered by Er. Nancy Dwa, one of the Board of Directors at NASO respectively.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Astronomy & Robotics Outreach at the 5th Kantipur HISSAN EduFair 2018

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) in support of Southwestern State College and social media group Daari Gang organized an outreach campaign to help the new generation know about space science, astronomy, and robotics at the 5th Kantipur HISSAN EduFair 2018, May 24 - 27, 2018 held in Kathmandu.



The campaign included solar observation and robotics display too which helped many visitors to observe the sun and various robots. Since the campaign was targeted to SEE students who came there to select their college for higher studies, we helped them to understand the importance of practical study in science and technological field.


During this event, around three thousand visitors got chance to observe the sun and know their presence in the universe. Many young minds got new motivation for their higher studies. The campaign was also attended by famous actors like Bipin Karki, Manoj Gajurel, Ex-Dean of Purbanchal University and many famous personalities.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Do you have a question to an Astronaut? Submit now!

We are pleased to announce that former NASA Astronaut Sandra Magnus will be among us during our collaborative event with Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) during 11:00 AM- 2:00 PM on Wednesday, May 30, 2018.


We have opened a call for ‘Ask an Astronaut’ (http://bit.ly/2ILEpty) which closes on Friday, May 25, 2018. We believe, it will provide an opportunity for Nepali people from Nepal and abroad to ask their question to her. Interested people can create max. 30 second question as a video with their introduction. Selected people will be invited to attend the event.


The program will have an interaction with her, presentations to have an insight of space activities in Nepal and prize distributions to the winners of 1st National Space Art Competition 2017 (class 1-8), 4th National Astronomy Olympiad 2017 (class 11-12) and 2nd Women in Science Award 2018 (WiSA2018) (student and young professional categories) respectively.

Monday, April 30, 2018

IDHSF2018Nepal: A Tribute To The First Human in Space!

To mark the historical day of the first human in space on April 12, 1961, Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) had a week long celebration as ' A Tribute To The First Human In Space' during April 6-13, 2018. On April 12, 1961, Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin went to Space and spent 108 minutes around the earth opening a new era of human space exploration.



On 6th of April, an event 'Role of Astronomy and Space Science in Our Society' was conducted at Janaki Secondary Boarding School, Janakpur (Province 2). This event was attended by around 80 students who came to know about the role of astronomy and space science in our society.
Photo: Participants of 'Role of Astronomy and Space Science in Our Society' held at Janaki Secondary School, Janakpur during a group photo.

On 7th of April,  an event 'The Role of AI in Space Exploration' was conducted at Itahari International College,Itahari (Province 1). Mr. Santosh Ghimire presented his talk on AI and its role in exploration. In order to provide an overview of NASO and WIAN by NASO officials.

Photo: Participants during a group photo session after the event 'The Role of AI in Space Exploration' held at Itahari Interrnational College, Itahari.

On 8th of April,  an event 'Space Weather Science and Application' was conducted at Gandaki Boarding School, Pokhara (Province 4). This event was attended by around 10 students who came to know about space weather science and it's application.

Photo: Participants and school authority during the group photo after the event 'Space Weather Science and Application' at Gandaki Boarding School, Pokhara.


On 9th of April, an event 'Satellite Navigation for Socio-Economic Development of Nepal' was conducted at Southwestern State College, Kathmandu (Province 3). Er. Narayan Dhital, our 'GNSS Working Group' lead and AirMeetsSpace Engineer at DLR, Germany presented his talk to the audience. Click here to access the talk.

Photo: Participants during a Q/A session of an event 'Satellite Navigation for Socio-Economic Development of Nepal' at Southwestern State College, Basundhara, Kathmandu.

On 10th of April, a webinar on the topic Connecting the planet from the Space Coast to the Himalayas was held between Ryan L. Kobrick, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Spaceflight Operations at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona, FL, USA and chairman of Yuri's Night (www.yurisnight.net) and Mr. Suresh Bhattarai, chairman at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) to inform the students about the possibilities of space science in Nepal. Click here to watch the webinar.



On 11th of April, an event 'A new Era of Exoplanetary Science: Is there an Earth 2.0?' was held in the premise of Southwestern State College,Kathmandu. During this event a webinar was held with Dr Suman Satyal and students to inform about the exoplanetary science. Click here to watch the talk.


Photo: Participants discussing their questions to Dr. Suman Satyal during an event 'A new Era of Exoplanetary Science: Is there an Earth 2.0?' held at Southwestern State College, Basundhara, Kathmandu.

On 12th of April, a wenibar on 'Terrnaut Nepal: An Opportunity to train like a Yuri Gagarin'  was held in order to give more insights on Terranaut Nepal. Bishal Manandhar, CEO/Founder at Srothe Code and Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at NASO discussed on how 'Cosmo Run Space Dash' mobile game (online) can be promoted among Nepali so that they can be a apart of this historic program in Nepal. Click here to watch the webinar.



On 13th of April,  an event 'Importance of Autonomous System in Our Daily Life' was held in Shubh Sanskar English Boarding School, Bhairahawa (Province 5). This event helped student to know the importance of autonomous system in our daily life and space too.


Photo: Participants during an event 'Importance of Autonomous System in Our Daily Life' held at Shubh Sanskar English Boarding School, Bhairahawa.

Besides these events, we also had an interaction as a radio talk show via Bishaya Prabesh in Image Channel News FM 103.6 MHz. RJ Kamal Rana  and NASO chairman Suresh Bhattarai talked about different aspects of space science and status of activities in Nepal. Chick here to listen the full interview. 


We would like to express our sincere thanks to Sano Sansar Youth Hostel Pvt. Ltd.-Kathmandu, Janaki Secondary School-Janakpur, Ithari International College-Itahari, Southwestern State College-Basundhara, Gandaki Boarding School-Pokhara, Shubh Sanskar English Boarding School-Bhairahawa, Yuri's Night and IAU Office of Astronomy for Development for their supports to our celebration. We would also like to thank Natraj Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd. for joining us as our travel partner. 

Moreover, those of you who showed their active participations in all these events are our motivation for better event/celebration in 2019 AD!