Friday, July 31, 2009

Lunar Occultation of Antares Tonight!

An interesting celestial event is within easy reach of a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, on the night of the 31st of July, from all over the country.

The occultation of Antares by Moon occurs around 9:55 P.M. in Kathmandu while 9:52 P.M. in Bhairahawa,9:54 Biratnagar,9:55 P.M. in Chandragadi,9: 53 P.M. in Janakpur, ,9:52 P.M. in Nepalganj and 9:53 P.M. in Simara.

A Lunar occultation could be the passing of the Moon in front of any other distant celestial Object - a Planet, other Solar System objects, a distant Star, or a deep sky object. Of these, the passage of the Moon in front of the naked eye Planets or bright stars, is an event that is most accessible to people without any observing equipment.And tonight is the time for the bright star occultaion by Moon.

The Star being occulted, is Jyestha or Antares - the brightest star in Scorpio. It glows with a reddish hue that gave it the name of Antares - or a rival to Mars or Aries. Moon has this tendency to repeat its occultation of a particular object in the sky, again and again, over a period of a few months. A few years back, Moon seemed to linger and linger, close to Saturn, occulting it a few times. And then, it was Venus that was getting occulted again and again. Antares, or Jyestha, went through such repeated occultations.

The website of the International Occultation Timing Association asks for accurate timings of the Antares observations towards obtaining information about the Lunar Limb profile - the contour of valleys and mountains around the limb of the visible disk of the Moon. Accurate timing of any such lunar occultation of a distant star from any one given location on Earth, would be one bite of useful data towards obtaining this Lunar Limb profile. It is just that, with brighter star occultations, the possibilities of beginning amateur astronomers with very limited equipment, also contributing to these bites of data, is increased.

A good camcorder, with a little optical zoom would be enough to record this event. A good pair of binoculars would help in being able to time the event accurately. One would need to time the event accurate to within a 10th of a second, for the data to be useful. For those wishing to just enjoy an interesting spectacle in the sky : What they would need to do is to train their eyes (or a pair of binoculars or a moderate telescope) towards the Moon in the evening – the star Antares will be viewed close to the Moon.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Total Solar Eclipse on July 22,2009 was Historic in Nepal

Hundreds of thousand of Neplese People watched Total solar Eclispe on July 22, 2009. The longest total solar Eclipse of 21st Century that crossed the half of the world took placed on Wednesday, 22 July, 2009.The once in a life time Total Solar Eclipse viewed from 14 districts while the partial eclipse observed from remaining 61 districts of Nepal from 05:45-07:47 hours in the morning. Maximum of 3:49 min of totality was seen from Bhadrapur according to our prediction. People from the path of totality felt strange during the Totality as their animals behaved as if the night had come.

Though Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) has predicted three good sites under the path of totality for the observation of Total Solar Eclipse which were Fikkal of Illam, Biratnagar of Morang and Gaighat of Udaypur districts,we planned to visit Biratnagar, second largest city of Nepal, regarding the weather conditions of the other two places. Unfortunately, we could not be there because of the Highway blockages by landslides due to heavy rain.

We organized a programme called Meet Your Scientists at Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) between 14:00-17:00 hrs on 21 July 2009. Key speakers for the Programme were Er. Rishi Shah, Academician of NAST and President of NASO, Jayanta Acharya, Lecturer of Balmiki Campus and SPoC of IYA for Nepal, Suresh Bhattarai, Sudeep Neupane founder members of NASO. G.D. Pudasaini and Utsav Kandel, two men behind the Nepal’s First Astronomy Documentary gave brief introduction about the documentary.

We arranged Total Solar Eclipse Observation Campaign on July 22, 2009 at NAST in association with NAST from 05:00-8:00 Hrs. The programme was live on Sagarmatha Television which is Satellite television and has a wide area of coverage around the world. Honorable Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal attended the programme around 06:30 Hrs. We arrange special arrangement for the Interview of Prime Minister and President of NASO on BBC London. The event was highly covered my Different TV cannels Like Nepal One, Avenues Television, Nepal Television, National Television and the FM stations of nations. We were on live telephone interview in different Radio and FM stations from different parts of Nepal to tell about the Total solar Eclipse and partial Solar eclipse. The programme was attended by more than 3oo people.

Meanwhile Jayanta Acharya, IYA SPoC for Nepal, arranged a programme on Takshashila Academy which was live on Avenues Television from 05:30:08:00 Hrs on July 22. More than 500 people attended including the German Ambassador to Nepal Verena Graefin Von Roden.

B.P. Koirala Memorial Planetarium, Observatory and Science Museum Development Board arranged a programme at Kathmandu Mall to view the Partial Solar Eclipse which was live on Kantipur Television during the Eclipse. Another television cannel, Nepal One TV did live of the Eclipse from their Studio during the morning of July 22.

Those who had booked tickets of Special Mountain flight on Buddha Air and Yeti Air thinking they could be above the clouds were also not so lucky because the weather system had clouds soaring to above 45,000 ft.

Buddha Air had two Beechcraft 1900Ds in the air, but the path of totality was completely covered up by clouds and by the time the planes flew over Ilam, where it was clearer the umbra had moved northeastwards towards Bhutan. Yeti Air had one of its Jetstreams parked in Biratnagar overnight and took off to make a holding pattern to see the eclipse.

Although people saw the eclipse, Mr Everest was completely shrouded in dark clouds. There was however a moment when Cho Oyu and Gauri Shankhar came into view, bathed in ghostly gray eclipse twilight.

Monday, July 20, 2009

40th Anniversary Of Apollo 11.

Forty years ago the astronauts of the Apollo 11 mission lifted off for the moon.Lets celebrate this great evening tonight!
Happy 40th Anniversary to all Space Enthusiastic and astronomers :-)

NASO meets with His Excellency Rakesh Sood,Ambassador of India to Nepal on July 20,2009

Photo 1:From left,Rishi Shah,Academician,NAST;President,NASO,His Excellency Rakesh Sood,Ambassador of India to Nepal,Mahednra Subedi,FOL,Nepal

Photo 2:From left,Rishi Shah,Academician,NAST;President,NASO,His Excellency Rakesh Sood,Ambassador of India to Nepal,Suresh Bhattarai,Founder Member,NASO

Sunday, July 19, 2009

NASO continues spreading news regarding Total Solar Eclipse in Nepal on July 22,2009

Photo 1: From left,Er. Shah,Academician,NAST,President of NASO;Surendra and Samir Sagar,Reporters of STV,Rijendra Thapa,Founder Member of NASO

Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO)is spreading news regarding through different means Total Solar Eclipse in Nepal which is the longest Total Solar Eclipse of 21st Century for the public awareness and the safe observation of the Solar Eclipse.People from 14 districts of Nepal can enjoy the spectacular view of the Total Solar Eclipse from 05:45 to 07:47 NST while rest of 61 districts will observe the partial Solar Eclipse.

Photo 2: Suresh Bhattarai,Founder member explaining about the telescopes,Binoculars, Solar Filters and Solar Eclipse Glasses

Regarding the generating awareness to the public NASO has been conducting the training for local people and the Students of Schools and Colleges of Kathmandu How To Make a Pin Hole Projection Box?.
So Far We have conducted the training in Celebration Co-Ed School,Jorpati; St. Xavier's College,Maitighar and for the Local people of Balaju and Chabahil of Kathmandu District.

On July 18,2009 we were interviewed by Nepal Television(NTV) and Center for Information Network(CIN).NTV is the National Channel of state of Nepal and CIN is the umbrella network for more than 150 FM stations through the nation.On July 19,2009 we have been interviewed by Sagarmatha Television.All of them are preparing for the special programme that will be broadcast before the total Solar Eclipse(TSE) and other news regarding the TSE that will be telecast and broadcast before the Eclipse regularly through out the nation.

We have getting request for the information on TSE from different National Dailies,National Weeklies and Local Dailies.
Here are the links to the news published so far.

Longest total solar eclipse of 21st century By Sudeep Neupane/Rishi Shah (

शतब्दीको सबैभन्दा लामो सुर्यग्रहण २०६६ श्रावण ७ गते पुर्वी नेपालको १४ जिल्लाबाट देख्न सकिने(

नेपालको १४ जिल्लाबाट खग्रास सुर्यग्रहण देख्न सकिने(

Hide-and-seek with the Sun by Jayanta Acharya,The Himalayan Times,National English Daily(

Eastern skies brace for rare celestial drama
Longest total solar eclipse on Wednesday morning
,The Kathmandu Post,National English Daily (

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rijendra Thapa addresses at Planeray Session of 60th IAC ,12-16 October,2009 Daejeon,Republic of Korea

Rijendra Thapa of Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO) will be in Daejeon,Republic of Korea to participate 60th International Astronautical Congress during 12-16 October,2009.

Photo:Rijendra Thapa,IAF Youth Grant Award Recipient for Nepal

We,Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO) are very honored as our member has been awarded The First International Astronautical Federation (IAF)Youth Grant.The IAF has awarded the Youth Grants to the ten students and young professionals including Rijendra Thapa from Nepal from over 130 well-qualified applicants from 35 countries.

The Student recipients are:

* Victoria Alonsoperez from Uruguay
* Minoo Rathnasabapathy from South Africa
* Anmol Sharma from India
* Rijendra Thapa from Nepal
* Yu Zhang from China

The Young Professional recipients are:

* Manuel Cuba from Peru
* Nicole Jordan Martinez from Colombia
* Etim Offiong from Nigeria
* Saida Salahova from Azerbaijan
* Thu Vu Trong from Vietnam

The purpose of this plenary session is to demonstrate how young professionals and students in space-related fields across the globe are contributing to the global space community. It is widely accepted that attracting young people into the aerospace workforce is vital to the industrial base of nations involved in space-related endeavours.

The panel will be comprised of four students and three young professionals, sharing their accomplishments and hopes for the future. These seven young people were chosen from videos that they created. Clips of those videos will be made into an introductory presentation.

Four students and three young professionals will comprise the panel, and the moderators will be a young professional and a student with impressive communications and group facilitation skills. Geographically, panelists will be drawn from Asia, Europe, South America, Australia and North America.

Source:Nepal Astronomical Society(NASO),July 15,2009

The 100 Hours of Astronomy judging committee has returned their final results!

Congratulations to all the clubs and individuals who have been chosen. Your efforts, insight, and commitment have inspired us all and we are honoured that you helped to make this project such an unprecedented success.

For those of you who submitted an award application but did not win, please know that judging for these awards was very difficult. The calibre of the events overall was amazing! If we had twice as many prizes to award, we could easily have chosen twice as many winners, we definitely were impressed with all the submissions.

We will highlight our 8 major winners from all categories below on our website shortly.

Thank you all for submitting entries, but most of all, THANK YOU for making 100 Hours of Astronomy such an great event.

Award One - Largest number of registered events held by a single astronomy group, club or society.

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: Centro de Estudos Astronômicos de Alagoas (CEAAL) - Brazil

Highly Commended: IYA Puerto Rico

Highly Commended: Jiangsu Astronomical Society - China

Award Two - Largest single registered 100 Hours of Astronomy event.

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: Jiangsu Astronomical Society - China

Highly Commended: RAMIP - France

Highly Commended: SARM - Romania

Award Three - Community Outreach Award

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: The Levin Stargazers - New Zealand

Highly Commended: South-western Montana Astronomical Society - United States of America

Highly Commended: Camden County Library Astronomy Club - United States of America

Award Four - Most innovative 100 Hours of Astronomy event.

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: Manthan Educational Programme Society - India

Highly Commended: Navegar Foundation - Portugal

Highly Commended: A.N.I.C - Columbia

Award Five - Most complete astronomy club, group, or society member participation

Prize: Explore Scientific David Levy Comet Hunter Optical Telescope Tube Assembly

Winner: Centre for Basic Space Science, Nsukka Enugu State - Nigeria.

Highly Commended: Rixastro - Belgium

Highly Commended: Mahatma Gandhi Mission’s Centre for Astronomy & Space Technology - India

Award Six - Most publicised 100 Hour of Astronomy registered event.

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: Sirius Astronomy Association - Algeria

Highly Commended: AUI/NRAO - Chile

Award Seven - 100 Hours of Astronomy youth participation award.

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: Upmanya Moitra, Dhirananda Roy Study & Research Centre India - Calcutta

Highly Commended: Robin Lee, CCH Astro Club - Malaysia

Highly Commended: Elias Jordon, Kansas Astronomical Observers- United States of America

Award Eight - Outstanding Individual within a registered 100 Hours of Astronomy event.

Prize: Celestron Sky Scout

Winner: Ana Maria Mourão, Centra/IST – Portugal

Highly Commended: Pro P.N Okeke, Centre for Basic Space Science, Nsukka Enugu State - Nigeria.

Highly Commended: Paul Moss, The Levin Stargazers - New Zealand

Source:The 100 Hours of Astronomy Task Group and Judging Committee

Friday, July 10, 2009

Copernicus Remains Verified by DNA Analysis

A new DNA analysis of hairs found in a book that once belonged to Copernicus shows a match with the great astronomer's putative remains, seemingly confirming their identity.

Nicolaus Copernicus, a Polish mathematician, astronomer and Catholic cleric (among many other pursuits), developed a heliocentric model of the solar system, opposing the widespread belief that the Earth was the center of the universe.

The bones were found close to the altar Copernicus was responsible for during his tenure as priest, and forensic facial reconstructions using the skull look similar to portraits of the man.

The skull of Copernicus. Credit: Marie Allen

A team of Swedish and Polish researchers sought to more firmly ID the remains by comparing the DNA of the remains to that in hairs found in a calendar (now exhibited at the Museum Gustavianum in Uppsala, Sweden) that belonged to Copernicus for much of his life.

"The analysis of several hairs resulted in interpretable profiles for four of the hairs. Of these, two of the hairs have the same profile as the putative remains of Copernicus," said team member Marie Allen of Uppsala University.

The Uppsala researchers also made tests of a tooth as well as bone tissue from the remains. Results of the analysis from the Institute of Forensic Research in Krakow and the Museum and Institute of Zoology in Warsaw and the Uppsala laboratory were identical.

"Although these results points towards the materials being from the same individual, there is a probability of random match," Allen said.

The DNA material in this case was limited and also degraded. Therefore, a so-called mitochondrial DNA test was performed, but this test is less reliable. (Most DNA is found in the nucleus of a cell, but mitochondria, the energy producers of the cell, also carry DNA that is passed down from the mother.) This test is commonly used in criminal investigations, but only as circumstantial evidence to strengthen the case.

"The DNA results should be looked at and evaluated in the light of and together with the information from other disciplines as the archaeological, anthropological and facial reconstruction data," Allen said.

The results of the DNA analysis, first announced in November 2008, are detailed in the July 6 online issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse on July 7, 2009

A penumbral lunar eclipse took place on July 7, 2009, the second of four lunar eclipses in 2009. This eclipse entered only the southernmost tip of the penumbral shadow and thus was predicted to be very difficult to observe visually.This is the second of the four Lunar Eclipses in 2009.

A penumbral lunar eclipse is a phenomenon in which the Sun, Earth and Moon line up in tandem, hence the Moon is in the Earth's penumbra, or, when you look from the Moon, the Sun is partially covered by the Earth (partial eclipse.) During this phenomenon, the volume of sunlight to the Moon decreases, and the Moon's surface looks darker when you look at the Moon from the Earth.

Japan's Kaguya spacecraft, which circles around the Moon on its polar orbit, can witness this phenomenon only twice a year at most and it has already captured such a view on February 10, 2009, in a geometry remarkably similar to that of yesterday's eclipse.

Here are sketch of the position of the Kaguya duirng the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse and some spectacular images that are seen from the Moon to Earth.

Positions of the KAGUYA, Moon, Earth and Sun when images of the Earth-rise during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Image of the Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera) during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Sequence images of the Earth by the HDTV (Tele-camera)during the penumbral lunar eclipse

Monday, July 6, 2009

Darkness after sunrise:Are you ready for the first and longest solar eclipse of the 21st century?

Whatever you are doing on the morning of 22 July, drop it. Get up early. Get ready for the astronomical event of the century: you're not going see a total solar eclipse that lasts this long again.

The total eclipse, the first since in 2006, will traverse a path that begins in India, passes through Nepal, Bhutan, Burma and then to China and the Pacific Ocean.

Those who see no distinction between astronomical events and astrology, say the timing is ominous. Eclipses are regarded as a bad omen and could portend more political turmoil ahead.

Whatever its mythical or political significance, the eclipse will be a spectacular sight. Cross your fingers and hope that the monsoon clouds will part and allow us a good view. But even under the cloud cover, there will be total darkness beneath the umbral shadow for about 3.5 minutes.

In Nepal, we have a ringside view of the total eclipse in the country's south-eastern corner: Ilam, Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Dharan, Rajbiraj, Dhankuta and Janakpur. Fikkal in Ilam will be one of the best places to view the eclipse as the shadow crosses the south face of Kangchenjunga.

In the rest of Nepal,the eclipse will be partial. The new moon will obscure 96 per cent of the sun's disc as seen from Kathmandu where the eclipse will start at 5.45AM, reaching its climax at 6.42AM and ending at 7.45AM.

Though perhaps the sight will be unwelcome in a city where people jaded by power cuts and political wrangling have grown bitterly indifferent to the darkness.

Hopefully it will be more cheerily welcomed in Pokhara. Here, the eclipse will first appear at 5.46AM, end at 7.44AM, and reach it maximum extent, obscuring 93 per cent of the sun, at 6.42AM . In Dadeldhura in far-western Nepal, the eclipse will shield only 85 per cent of the sun but should last longer from 4.46-7.42AM.

So, now you have the facts. Turn your eyes away for the tv, disinter your nose from your books, and be a witness to this rare cosmic event.

Source:Nepali Times,03 JULY 2009 - 09 JULY 2009