December 12, 2011


We took part in the Rann Utsav 2011 on December 10. The event took place at the Kala Dungar and Dhorado Village. This year we had great fun at the white salty desert of Kutch because the Total Lunar Eclipse took place on the same day. We showed the coppery moon to the tourist who came from all around the world! Here I am sharing few photos of the event. Hope you will like.

Local lady watching flamingoes through the binos

enjoying Total Lunar Eclipse

that means, "you're passing through 23.5 North Latitude

The group of Painted Storks

Flying Painted Storks

The India Bridge
A passing International Flight

Kala Dungar (The Black Hill)

The Greater Rann (Mixed with sea water)

The group of Flamingoes (We counted 200 flamingoes through the binoculars)

CM of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi is watching flamingoes through my 25x100s

The white salty desert of Kutch shortly after sunset

Lunar Eclipse through 55-250mm lens

Lunar Eclipse in wider field

Lunar Eclipse in wider field

The totality in wider field 

White salty desert and stars!

November 25, 2011


A total lunar eclipse will take place on December 10, 2011. It will be visible from all of Asia and Australia, seen as rising over Eastern Europe, and setting over northwest North America. In the Philippines, the lunar eclipse is seen visible just after sunset.

Visibility of the Lunar Eclipse


P1: 11:33:36 UTC

U1: 3:32:15 UTC

U2: 14:06:16 UTC

Greatest: 14:31:49 UTC

U3: 14:57:24 UTC

U4: 16:17:58 UTC

P4: 14:29:57 UTC


Moonrise: 6:00pm (IST)

Moon enters Penumbra: 5:06pm

Moon enters Umbra: 6:18pm

Greatest: 8:05pm

Moon leaves Umbra: 9:45pm

Moon leaves Penumbra: 10:58pm

November 20, 2011


The members of Kutch Amateur Astronomers' Club went to Valakhavas Lake near Shiv Paras Temple to watch Leonids. The Last Quarter Moon was very bright that washed most of the joy of watching the Leonids but we chose to take some shots of the night sky during this event. We spent most of the time in campfire and making the time lapse movie of the rising moon. We noted just 4 meteors one of which was successfully captured in the camera!

A Leonid was captured during  25s shutter speed

November 17, 2011


The modest Leonid meteor shower should be most active in the hours before dawn Friday morning. Last-quarter moonlight will interfere somewhat. This shower's parent comet, 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, tends to create narrow concentrated streams that produces brief but prodigious displays — most recently during the late 1990s. But no such luck this year: expect the more typical weak display, with fewer than a dozen meteors per hour radiating from Leo’s Sickle. Lght from a last-quarter Moon won't help.

Leo at 2:20am. The Waning Gibbous Moon is very bright and may ruin the most of joy of watching Leonids

Leonid meteor shower date and timings:
The peak usually occurs around 17 November This time its spread over 2 days. This year Moon will mar the observations but still its worth observing. Details are given below
01:28 IST 17th November and 09:04 IST on 18th November

October 24, 2011


bright Jupiter rising over Bhuj city, during October 23 evening. Snap shot taken by canon EOS 550D

Jupiter is the most eye-catching point of light in the eastern sky after dusk. Shining at magnitude -2.9 Jupiter is heading towards its opposition, the closest distance from Earth on 29 October.

Even small Binoculars will show its four bright moons. Jupiter can be best viewed through a mid-sized to large aperture telescopes. A telescope will show a 50” wide disc of the planet. When near opposition the gas giant offers the earth bound telescopes stunning views of its stormy, banded atmosphere and large Galilean Moons.

Visit this link by Sky & Telescope website for more info about observing Jupiter

October 4, 2011


Today I recalled old news while checking e-mails of the year 2006. It was stating that the ground based astronomy will cease around 2050 due to the dramatic increase in cloud cover caused by Global Warming! I decided to share it again in this blog. The whole mail was as below:

“Ground-based astronomy may be almost impossible by 2050 as global warming causes a dramatic increase in cloud cover.

Clouds and aircraft condensation trails, or contrails, already hamper astronomy, says Gerry Gilmore, an astronomer at the University of Cambridge. Worries about cloud cover prompted a study, which Gilmore chaired, to look into how global warming and rising air traffic will affect the forthcoming 100-metre-wide Overwhelmingly Large Telescope in Chile. This is one of a planned series of extremely large telescopes designed to observe the skies in unprecedented detail.

Contrails and global warming feed off each other, Gilmore says. "Contrails increase global warming, and global warming helps larger contrails form."

Though they realized that increasing cloud was a potential threat, astronomers did not appreciate the scale of the problem before the study, Gilmore says. "The study shows that ground-based telescopes will be worthless by 2050."

Gilmore hopes to make the wider public aware of this overlooked consequence of global warming. "We can only go to the least affected places and try to make governments pass laws to protect these sites," he says. "But the future of cheap aero plane transport and climate change is out of our hands."

mail source: 

October 1, 2011


Mars passes through the Beehive Cluster (M44) during October 1 and 2. Today early morning before dawn I observed this event using my 10x50 Olympus binoculars. I also took few shots of this event through my DSLR camera with a telephoto zoom lens.

September 29, 2011


Recently I bought Canon 55-250mm IS telephoto zoom lens for my Canon EOS 550D camera. My purpose is to use it for nature and astrophotography. To test it for astrophotography at its full length I went to Kutch Mitra Park, a place which is 10 km south of the city of Bhuj with Mr. Narendra Gor. I wanted to capture comet C/2009 P1 Garradd and some of the Milky Way fields. The site is dark enough for observing and is close to Valakhavas Lake, our old observing site.

I could get some fine shots and have shared some of them below:

Cygnus Milky Way. Exp. 13 secs, ISO 1600, F/5.6, Focal length 55mm

Lambda Scorpii Region. Exp. 6 secs, ISO 3200, F/4, Focal length  55mm

Sagittarius Milky Way. Exp. 5 secs, ISO 3200, F/4, Focal length  55mm

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd (marked with arrow), Exp. 8 secs, ISO  6400, F/5.6, Focal length 163mm


Here are some photos of few deep sky objects taken during 27 and 28 September. All the pics are taken from my new Canon 55-250mm IS lens. The stand used during photography was light weight hence shows some shakes.

Messier 42 (The Great Orion Nebula), Exp. 5 secs, ISO 3200, F/5.6, Focal length 250mm

Messier 45 (Pleiades), Exp. 5 secs, ISO 3200, F/5.6, Focal length 163mm

Messier 31 (Andromeda Galaxy), Exp 5 secs, ISO 3200, F/4, Focal length 55mm


I spotted comet 45P Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova on the early morning of 28th September using my 10-inch Dobsonian Telescope. The comet was very bright showing bright inner coma. The comet was shining with magnitude 7 and its diameter was 7’. I used a 38mm 2-inch Orion Q70 eyepiece for this observation. The comet was within 4 degrees East of Regulus and was just 13 degrees above horizon at 5:25am.

Next morning I decided to capture this comet using Canon 55-250mm IS lens with my Canon EOS 550D camera. I used this setup on a light weight tripod which I had used for my Panasonic DMC FS15 camera.  However I got the comet’s fuzzy image after a couple of shots.

Exposure 5 seconds, ISO 6400, F/5.6, focal length 171mm

The comet is marked with an arrow.

September 26, 2011


I just bought a 10-inch Sky-watcher Pyrex Dobsonian Telescope. I got the delivery on 20th September. After assembling the telescope’s Dobsonian mount with the help from my club members Mr. Narendra Gor and Amit, I put it to the test.

The conditions were not ideal for observing so we decided to observe Jupiter which was well up in the sky.  This telescope, operating at 48x provided very nice, detailed view of Jupiter. The two cloud belts were clearly visible and I saw a dark spot in the Northern Belt of Jupiter. Using 10mm eyepiece (giving 120x) improved much detail. I could see the two belts with their own different shapes as seen in the photos. 

On the early morning of 23rd September, I woke up at 4:00am to begin a new session of visual comet hunting. The sky up to 30 degrees was very hazy so I avoided comet hunting and decided to test my new telescope on deep sky objects. Orion was high in the sky so what could be better than The Great Orion Nebula? I have also purchased an Orion 38mm 2” Q70 eyepiece along with this telescope. I used this eyepiece to observe M42.  This eyepiece using with a 10-inch, f/4.7 gives nearly 2 degrees field of view.  The entire Orion’s sword appeared in a single field of view! The entire view was very nice and gave me the “lost in space” feeling! Observing at 48x brought more detail. The view was far better than my old 8-inch Newtonian. The Fish’s Mouth feature nicely appeared. I could also see another dark feature SW of the Trapezium.

the sky on 22nd September

I then set the telescope on Iota Orionis star (Struve 752) and used a 10mm eyepiece giving 120x. The main component appeared bright blue.  The other two members came into view easily. The four spikes around the main star made the view very impressive! I then pointed the scope to the Waning Crescent Moon. Operating at 120x the telescope showed wealth of detail.  The 5.5th magnitude star 3 Cancri had just come out from its occultation.  The craters Gassendi and Kepler were eye-catching. I saw many tiny craters within Gassendi. The ray system around Kepler was impressive! I then saw the half buried crater Prinz and the cluster of lunar mountains Montes Harbinger. The shadows of Montes Harbinger attracted me and I could not shift my vision from this region for a couple of minutes.  

I am really impressed by the quality of this new telescope. The Dobsonian mount is very sturdy and moves smoothly on both altitude and azimuth movements. It takes very small time to adjust the viewfinder. The crayford focuser is lovely! The 25mm and 10mm eyepieces provided with the telescope are also of a good quality and gives nice views.  

August 7, 2011


comet c/2010 X1 as appears in the starry night pro

Comet C/2010 X1 was discovered by Leonid Elenin (Lyubertsy, Russia) using the 45-cm astrograph and a CCD camera at the International Scientific Optical Network's robotic observatory near Mayhill, New Mexico. The comet has been well observed by observatories from the beginning of 2011 to the present, with visual observers finally picking up the comet on April 5. The comet began the year at a nuclear magnitude of about 19, and brightened to about 18 by February 1, 17 by March 1, and 16.5 by April 1. The January and February observations typical revealed a coma about 0.3' across and a tail extending 0.3-0.5'.

The comet will reach perihelion (0.48 AU) on September 10. The comet will pass 0.23 AU from Earth on October 16. On 7th August, the comet has been reported to be shining at magnitude 9.0 with angular diameter 3’. The comet is very low in the West at the time of evening twilight in August 2011 but it will get bright rapidly and will be shining at mag 6 on August 31st. It won’t be possible to observe this comet during September as it will pass the Sun.

The comet will emerge through the early morning eastern sky during the first week of October. This time the comet is predicted to be as bright as mag 4.8 or 5.0.

  • On October 14th, the comet (~mag 5.1) will be just 1.5 degrees from the 9th magnitude galaxy NGC 2903 in Leo.
  •  On October 15th the comet will be within 6 degrees North of Mars.
  • On October 18th the comet will be nearly 6 degrees north of the Beehive Cluster (M44) in Cancer.
  • On October 22nd the comet (~ mag 5.8) will be just 1 degree from the star Pollux in Gemini.
  • On October 31st the comet (~6.8) will be 2 degrees E-SE of the Open Cluster Messier 37 in Auriga after midnight.

The brightness will start to decrease rapidly as November begins. The comet will be at magnitude 9 during November 15th. The comet will pass very close of the Pleiades (Messier 45) from November 20 to November 24. It will be just 42’ away from the stars of Pleiades on November 22. On November 23rd the comet will be just 31’ from Maia (the 3.8th mag star in Pleiades). During this time the comet will be shining at magnitudes 9.5. 

Here, below the charts are given showing positions of this comet from 1st October to 25th November 2011.

comet c/2010 X1 Elenin during October 1 to 14

comet c/2010 X1 Elening during Oct 14 to Nov 5

comet c/2010 X1 Elenin during 5 Nov to 25 Nov

July 31, 2011


Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd is heading for magnitude 6 and is the brightest comet in the current sky. It will make a nice binocular comet from September this year to May 2012. Approximately 237 million km away, comet C2009/P1 (Garradd) is approaching earth and should reach perihelion just before Christmas whereas its closest approach to Earth will be in early March/2012.

Here I have posted some charts that gives positions of this comet from 31st July 2011 to 30 April 2012. These charts are generated using the Starry Night Pro. software. For more information like magnitude, RA and DEC of this comet download this document.

Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd Tracking Guide