Fantastic dark-skies and already found one!

Hey all!

Merlin’s beard. It’s been 7 months. 7 months since I came online, and I see WordPress has changed a lot. But then, I have been keeping really busy, and I finally get time to summarize these 7 months!

I am not gonna go into the “bad” part of this time (for obvious reasons, duh!), but I am gonna talk about an awesome trip we had in April this year!

Astronomy club? Good guess. It was a trip, organized by me, Sunil, Anup and Somu, to this place called Yelagiri, near Vellore in Tamil Nadu, to conduct a night-long observation session there.

Sounds cool? Nope? I guess, the need would be to scroll down and have a look at the pictures we took there!

So how was it done? Well, first off, we roped in one of India’s best astrophotographers, Mr. Suresh Mohan for the trip! He was kind enough to help us in a lot of stuff, that too free of cost. Who would go to such lengths for helping some astronomy club? But then, we found out he was a part of our club 6 years ago, and no one had contacted him since. I took the chance, had an initial trip+lecture with him, and then got this trip done.

That aside, travel and stay were our major concerns. We booked a 50-seater bus for 40 of us from VM Babu travels (costed us Rs. 26,000/-) for the trip. Next problem was accommodation. Suresh sir, aka “Doc”, for he is actually a doctor, knew a friend there who had a resort. After a lot of negotiation, that came to around Rs. 30,000/-. So, travel and acco done, all that required was managing people (the tough part), and transporting stuff without damage.

We started at around 1:00 p.m. on 9th April (2016, obviously), including the CFI head Dacha (-_- might remind you :P!). We reached the resort, named Kairos, at around 8:00 p.m. We had to go to doc’s house to get a 16″ fork mounted LX-200, a 12″ Lightbridge Meade – Dobsonian, and other stuff before reaching the resort. We find out (to our pleasant surprise!) that a guys named Johann Nishanth, who also does astrophotography, is staying right there!

We get 3 terraces- 1 for Johann, 1 for Doc and his LX-200, and one for us. While astrophotography is great, I had gotten a bit bored of taking pictures. So, I and Anup head over to our terrace, setup our Celestron 8″ and the Lightbridge (Wait, Somu was there too. He was setting up a lot of stuff). Meanwhile, doc assembles his LX-200 and his awesome Takahashi (more about this later! :P), and we find Johann already assembling his 12″ (not sure of this).  The students are taken to Johann, who gives fundaes on telescope, balance, photography, etc. By 10:00 p.m, people are hungry, and we head down for food.

Food! But there was only limited food 😥 . But the resort people cook up uthapams-chutney-sambar for us, and we get a proper entertainment hour from Sunil trying to mimic people-professors, school teachers, and random people. By the end of the hour, we are already heading back to the terrace, to conduct the observation!

Johann tried to take pictures of the Trifid Nebula, and on the first terrace, Somu, Sunil (sort of), Doc and Swashya(Doc’s daughter) finally set up the scope, finish off the 3-star alignment, and take a picture of the Trifid Nebula. I and Anup, on the second terrace, put various objects to the people amongst discussions and debates. We put Jupiter, Saturn, Mars (ob!), and then M4,M6, Mizar-Alcor. Next, we try to put the same objects on the Lightbridge, which was not really great. We spot a couple of meteors (yay!) and then observe the holy grail- The Milky Way itself!

Now, some people with DSLRs started taking/asking for astro-pics. They manage to take a LOT of pictures! And one guy, Sri Harsha, actually managed to capture 2 meteors with the milky way!

With this done, I enter the room, to find Anup asleep (it was 5:00 a.m). And the lavish room tempts me, as I gradually lay down and start to fall asleep. I also feel Sunil and Somu enter the room, claiming its 5:15, and we are already asleep. As I gradually go into dream, I wake up to find the time to be 6:30 a.m. After freshening up, I find many people out in the terrace, claiming to have seen a stunning view of the Milky way just after we slept. Duh, that was a bummer, but after 2 days of nightless sleep, we were just too tired to put another night-out.

We pack up all the scopes, go down for breakfast-idli and pongal- and take the Group pic , as usual.

We start our journey back to Chennai, while playing an awesome game of Wolf(or Mafia or whatever you would like to call), and deposit the scopes to their respective owners, and reach insti!

This was one hell of a trip. No other club had achieved such a success in a tour. This was our second success, the first being a trip to Rameshwaram by our seniors(refer to this blog by our seniors!). We were almost a sensation in the institute, and the pictures taken have started to go a long way in rebranding the club!

There are some pics shared below. These belong to Astronomy club, IIT Madras, and Dr. Suresh Mohan (in some cases). These cannot be freely distributed (as of now):


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The Trifid Nebula


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The Milky Way: The meteor s have been marked!


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Saturn

 

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Saturn

I guess so that’s it! I will write soon about our first observation at Kanchipuram, and about our Mercury transit session soon!

 

 

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