Wednesday, April 1, 2009

STAR GAZING courtesy Khagol Mandal

date : 28th March 2009
venue : Vangani (place close to Karjat)

I had my mind set on this one for quite a while considering i had missed the one that happened in Feb. The journey to Vangani was not as annoying as i had anticipated. The key is take fast from CST/Dadar that later becomes a slow...from Kalyan or whatever. It takes exactly 2hrs. We were supposed to reach by 6.00pm so we boarded the local train at 4.00pm. By we i mean Rohan and i. Chetan came directly by himself. All i carried was a mattress, water, torch, snacks, notepad, pen, a disposable glass for the free tea, my Nikon camera and 150/- rupees.

The registration fees was Rs. 70/-. The crowd was divided into a Marathi and English vocation. The crowd was surprisingly large. People had come with their entire families. Most slept off during the night so i was at loss to the whole point of them coming in the first place. There were some non-indians on board aswell. The number of telescopes on display were however less than usual.

The program started at 7.00pm with a brief introduction of Khagol Mandal and the skywatch. That was followed by a description of a telescope, its construction and functioning. The first session started at around 7:30pm. The significance of the day being the Vernal Equinox that had only just gone by. The guide described the night sky brilliantly; besides giving us the insight into greek mythology and astronomy he also mentioned the Marathi and Hindu myths and historical significance of the various constellation, gods and names of months. And more importantly it was an explanation for dummies in the field of astrology and astronomy. He was also well equiped with a laser with which he would point at the night sky; it was the first time i recognised the highly penetrative nature of the laser beam.

After the first session were shown the planet Saturn (its rings clearly visible), beta monoserotis and orion through telescopes and then were allowed to have dinner. At 10:30 the second session began. Constellations of leo and virgo. and bootus and hydra were visible. A tea break followed and we were shown some of the Pleads clusters via the telescopes. At 1:30am there were two slideshow presentations given on eclipses and general gyan on the universe.

That was followed by a question answer session where people active partcipated. Another tea break. At around 4.00am another session. The constellations of scorpio, libra and sagitarius were visible; so was jupiter. By 5.00 the program was over and the three of us wanted to catch the 5.00am train; so we skipped the telescope round and ran to the vangini pitch dark...with the village cock cock-a-doodleing at the top of his voice.

I surely want to skywatch again. Thankyou to the enthusiastic organisers at khagol mandal for this great program.

For info on the organisation and future events :