The farm under the stars

Hey all!

Yep. I am writing one more post, on the go! I might not find time again, so I guess I will just post all pending stuff today/tomorrow!

The title is perfect, I would say. It was an awesome adventure,  at least for me. I had never visited a dark sky site before, and this experience was just exhilarating! 

Yep! Another astro trip! But this time, its not just about the trip; its about the entire weekend of hal-chal. This was when I had contacted Doc (Suresh Mohan sir), and we had fixed a trip to a place named Vembakkam near Kanchipuram. Doc and two of his friends in his awesome Audi, and we (I, Anup, Sunil, Somu) in our travels vandi. The driver was the same person who came to our previous trip, so he knew all about astronomy and stuff.

It was a Saturday, and we had left at 2:00 pm in the afternoon. We went by car (Doc packed us dinner), and reached a farm (of a friend of doc’s). We hadn’t got anything, but we setup his scope (some random mount with a DSLR), while he set up his good scope. He was aiming to capture the Running Chicken Nebula, and we were- well, just wanting to do some astrophotography.

We had dinner (Idli and sambar- that was the most awesome dinner I had- under the mobile flashlights and the starry sky), and then we set to Polar align the mount.

After polar alignment, we aimed at the Orion Nebula, and actually took pictures of it! While we were doing this, Doc claimed the weather to be bad, and gave us his Takahashi to observe.

The Takahashi scope is a 3″ refractor, with all sorts of chromatic, spherical and view aberrations removed. We were able to see the Great Red Spot of the Jupiter with this!

We set down to taking an underexposed video of Jupiter (on my smartphone), and another overexposed video of Jupiter to get the moons. I processed them, and obtained a very good image of Jupiter+Moons+Red spot!

Anup and Somu go to sleep (duh. Their 8-hr nap or something), while everyone else dozed off in car/tent. I and Sunil just lie down in the badass armchairs of doc’s, and gaze around for the Milky Way!

We observe till 4:30. We see Sagittarius has risen, along with a haze! That’s the Milky way for god’s sake! We keep observing it, every 15 minutes, untill, we wake up at 5:30 to find the patch gone! The patch was actually a cloud patch, impersonating to be the Milky Way. Sad life, but I guess that’s all you can get for a day!

We wake everyone up, and pack stuff. We start our journey to insti, and would have happily gone to sleep, but guess what? We have Doc’s lecture on that day!

I don’t even remember eating anything properly, but just one fact that I had dozed off while eating, and was woken up by my friends and asked to go to room! But then, at around 4:45 p.m. that day, I and Anup go over to the Physics seminar hall to arrange stuff. Somu was busy, so he just packed, while Sunil goes to escort Doc.

We have a very  good session by Doc on Astrophotography, followed by a talk from his friend in Germany (pursuing his Ph.D in Astrophysics) on Exoplanets, which was very well received by the students!

With that, I find I have 2 more assignments to complete, not to mention the processing of the images taken. So, I pack, while Anup and Sunil take Doc to the rooftop to learn more about the mount. In the process, they burn the motherboard away (Not expected from you, Anup- you being an EP guy, can’t burn off a motherboard!), ending our dreams of tracking a nebula or cluster.

Finally, I go back, under the roof of concrete, having a pile full of assignments, and a soul that’s been enchanted by the blanket of stars above!

I am attaching the images taken on the trip. Please note that they belong to the Astronomy club, and Doc alone, and can’t be reproduced anywhere freely.

Jupiter, with its Galilean moons, and the Red spot. Taken using a Lumia 640XL camera!

Orion Nebula: The red spot on bottom left is the one.



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