From Bhuj, we began our journey at 6:15am for Kala Dungar (Black Hill) on the morning of 20th December. It is situated 80 km North of Bhuj and there is Lord Dattatreya’s temple on its peak. In the Northern side of the hill is Great White Rann (Desert) of Kutch district. It is very beautiful, flat deserted region made of salt. The salty land is mixed with the water of the sea. We approached there at around 11:00am. I carried my 25x100 Giant Binoculars and 8-inch Newtonian Reflecting Telescope. I was with other 11 members of our Kutch Amateur Astronomer’s Club including Mr. Narendra Gor, Nishant Gor, Kartik Pomal, Navin Bapat, Ashwin Vaghela, Akhilesh Antani, Dinesh Panchal, Ibrahim Darvadiya, Nayakbhai and other members from Ahmedabad. Mr. Narendra Gor brought our club’s 6-inch Sky Watcher Newtonian Reflector. Dinesh Panchal brought his 4-inch Newtonian Telescope. There we met our other club member Mr. Pratap Sevak who brought his spotting scope for bird watching.
visitors are watching flamingos through the binoculars
Enjoying the full moon thorugh a 6-inch Telescope
the flatness of the white desert of Kutch!
moon-light's reflection on the salty ground!
After having lunch we left Kala Dungar at around 2:45pm for Dhordo village. The main event of Kutch Rann Utsav was held at Dhordo village. The beautiful white desert is some 6 km away from Dhordo village. Gujarat Tourism organizes the main event in Dhordo village which is some 90km from Bhuj city by road. We reached there at about 5:00pm. The white salty ground mixed with water was squashy that our boots pierced in the ground. There, a large stage was constructed for the performances by the local artists. We found a suitable place near the stage to setup our equipments. We refused to settle my 25x100 binos. We settled three telescopes, my 8-inch scope, our club’s 6-inch scope and Mr. Dinesh Panchal’s 4-inch scope. Because of the salty ground we had to arrange some kind of paper-sheet pieces to put them below the telescope stands to protect the metal stand’s contact with the salty ground.
The sunset time was 6:10pm. We took some shots of the beautiful sunset. The moon, nearly full (99%) was already in the east sky adding more beauty to the scene! Our 6-inch and 4-inch scopes were already pointed toward the moon. I pointed my 8-inch scope to Jupiter. The Jovian moon IO was just touching the planet’s eastern limb and few of the visitors could detect it. Calisto was within 5’ from the 7th magnitude star. Some of the visitors identified that star to be Jupiter’s 5th moon by mistake! Most of the people were dazzled by the view of a full moon through a 6-inch Newtonian. We used the moon-filter with that scope to decrease the intensity of the moon. Later on as the atmosphere became cold, the ground became more and more squashy.