Karachi Astronomers Society

Watching The Blood Moon at Bay View Academy Karachi

I was so excited to see the first Total Lunar Eclipse of 2018 in Karachi as it was the rarest event happening after 150 years. Due to the combination of three lunar phenomena: a super moon, a blue moon and a blood moon at the same time since 1866.

Being a member of ‘Karachi Astronomers Society‘ I asked Mr. Zain who is also co-founder of  (KAS) if there is any happening event in Karachi where I can see the Lunar Eclipse with telescope, he told that he is conducting a Moon sighting event at Bay View Academy.

I reached the school at 6.29pm as the eclipse reached its peak at 6:31pm but it was near the horizon but after few mins. of searching the sky Mr. Zain finally spotted the Blood Moon.

Sky-Watcher 90/900 AZ3 Refractor Telescope

All of a sudden kids gathered around Mr. Zain and asked that they also want to see the Lunar Eclipse so the teacher asked them to make a queue and they saw the Total Lunar Eclipse for the first time with telescope. Here we have not one but three telescopes with different magnification.

  • Sky-Watcher 90/900 AZ3 Refractor Telescope
  • Sky-Watcher 6″ f/8 Traditional Dobsonian Telescope
  • Sky-Watcher 8″ Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope

skywatcher telescopes

After half an hour Mr. Zain gave the tour of the night sky, told them about the brightest star in the night sky ‘Sirius’ in Canis Majoris  constellation followed by Orion constellation and Oroin Nebula (one of the brightest nebulae, and is visible to the naked eye).

bay view academy

Kids asked some questions about the night sky like, “can we see The Milky Way ?”, “can you point out the Jupiter?”.  It’s too hard to see the Milky Way in Urban City due to light pollution and Jupiter is under your feet (below the horizon).

Lunar Eclipse with telescope

It was so much fun interacting with these kids and answering their questions about the Moon and the night sky. Few of them were screaming after seeing the Moon details in the telescope. For me it was such a memorable event watching the Total Lunar Eclipse in Sky-Watcher 8″ Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope.

lunar eclipse 2018

 

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Stargazing trip to Kund Malir Beach

2016 ends with meeting a foreigner and 2017 starts with meeting a foreigner. Last month I met Cassandra de Pecol aka Cassie is an American woman  who wants to break the Guinness  World Record for the  fastest  female to travel to all 196 Sovereign Nations and on 6th Jan. 2016 I met an astronomer Steve Bonnar, who was invited by YPO to conduct an astronomy session. 

I was invited by Ramiz Qureshi to be a part of the team of Karachi Astronomers Society  to conduct an Astronomy session at a private trip of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

For the first time I had an opportunity to travel with the legendary Sir Hanif Bhatti  (Founder at PakWheels.com) in his Pajero.  Our trip  starts at 10:30am we reached Kund Malir beach at 3:30pm. Here we met the organizers of YPO’s trip, they introduced us to Steve Bonnar who is Dubai based photographer, physics teacher and loves astronomy.

Hanif Bhatti

From L: Steve Bonnar, Waqar Ahmed, Hanif Bhatti

We were so delighted to meet a fellow astronomer. He showed us his Stellarvue 115mm APO Triplet Refractor Telescope  with CGEM Computerized Mount and Iron Meteorite which has some magnetic properties.  For the first time I hold  a meteorite in my hand and I can’t explain that feeling.

Iron Meteorite

Iron Meteorite

Then we spend our evening at the beach with coffee watching beautiful sunset. As the sun goes down Steve and Waqar set his telescope for telescopic viewing.

Steve Bonnar with Telescope

 

When we started the trip from Karachi, it was hazy  and we were afraid if it will be the same weather conditions at Kund Malir but  sky was clear  after the sunset.  I climbed to the mountain and capture the jewels of the night sky.

Taurus and Orion Constellation

Taurus and Orion Constellation

M42 (Orion Nebula) located in Orion Constellation is the only nebula visible to the naked eye while Aldebaran is the brightest star of the Taurus Constellation.

Astronomy at Kund Malir

In the above shot first I thought it was a meteor but later realized it was some satellite passing by.

Steve started the telescopic viewing session with the little sky tour and showed Moon with his telescope while Waqar bhai introduced them to the Karachi Astronomers Society and showed Venus and Orion Nebula with the  SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian Telescope. People were so amazed to see amazing details of the night sky objects. We answered all their queries about the stars and the planets.

Farman Shams

Steve Bonnar and I

After the dinner we left for Karachi, on our way back at 11pm at Makran Coastal Highway we hit by sand storm which lasted for 30mins.

We reached Karachi at 2:30am. Overall it was one memorable experience.

Stargazing and Astrophotography trip with KaAS

As we usually do our Urban stargazing sessions with Ramiz and Shaheryar on Zain Bhai’s building roof but recently I got an invitation to the Stargazing and Astrophotography trip with KaAS. I was so excited for my second stargazing trip and Astrophotography trip with Karachi Astronomers’ Society (KaAS). At my first trip with KaAS in December I couldn’t see the Milky Way clearly cos galactic center of the Milky Way is visible from March till October as we are in the Northern Hemisphere. This time we have Talha Ghouri who will be giving us Astrophotography tips to us and to his students.  It was quite hot at that time in Karachi as 40C was predicted temperature for that day. As I reached the pickup point. I see this

our coaster

our coaster

We left at 1pm and reached 3pm at Mirpur Sakro. On our way I’ve seen these beautiful sunflower fields. These trips provide us an opportunity to get close the nature and escape to our hectic schedule.

sunflower fields

sunflower fields

The weather took a dramatic turn while we were on our way and it was all cloudy and windy by the time we reached Mirpur Sakro. After we reached our final destination we put down our bags and introduced ourselves to each other then they distribute certificates followed by a group photo.

From left: Hanif Bhatti with Ramiz Qureshi holding his certificate

From left: Hanif Bhatti with Ramiz Qureshi holding his certificate

 

A Group Photo - photo courtesy Abubaker Siddiq

A Group Photo – photo courtesy Abubaker Siddiq

After that we had lunch then we went on a short trip to the fields to find some birds but they were all flown away. We were back at the venue before the sunset. It was all cloudy and we thought we can’t see anything tonight. So we were praying for the clear skies. After 8pm clouds were scattered and the Moon appeared and we witnessed this breathtaking very rare Moon Halo.

Moon Halo with Jupiter

Moon Halo with Jupiter

That was an optical phenomenon where a circle with a radius of approximately 22° formed around the Sun or the Moon. We have seen the Planet Jupiter and the star Procyon of Canis Minor and Pollux and the Castor the heads of the twins in the Gemini constellation and the star Alhena left foot of the twin Pollux in the Gemini constellation. Now there was some clouds in the west rest of the sky was clear. After that I tried to spot the Polaris to make the star trail. In the dark skies its bit hard to spot the star you are looking for. So I found the Polaris – the star that never changed its position it. In ancient times people used this star to find their location when they were lost in the sea or in the desert.

Polaris with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major

Polaris with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major

So there was the Polaris with Ursa Minor and Ursa Major (Big Dipper) on the left corner. After that I spin those stars….

Star Trail

Star Trail

As you can see that the Polaris doesn’t change its position. There was a public stargazing session going on the other end with the 6 inch & 8 inch Skywatcher telescopes where I’ve seen Saturn rings, Omega Centauri or NGC 5139 which is a globular cluster in the constellation of Centaurus and other star clusters.

6" Skywatcher Telescope at the venue

6″ Skywatcher Telescope at the venue

After 3am the Milky Way Galaxy was starting to appear in the South near the Scorpius constellation so I moved my camera towards it and start capturing its beauty.

Our Milky Way Galaxy with Planet Saturn

Our Milky Way Galaxy with Saturn (not stacked)

Alhamdulillah! I’ve seen this breathtaking view of Milky Way Galaxy. Later we went to another trip to the fields to find some good location to photograph the Milky Way but it was bit cloudy again but we managed to get our group photo thanks to Ramiz Qureshi.

A group photo with the Milky Way thanks to Ramiz

A group photo with the Milky Way thanks to Ramiz

I really had a great time on this stargazing trip with KaAS. Finally I’ve seen the Milky Way Galaxy. It was so good to meet people with mutual interest as we have more than 70 people on this trip including a SIUT surgeon. All were so amazed after seeing the stars in the dark skies and KaAs members helped them to understand the deep sky objects such as star clusters, nebulae and the galaxies. Looking forward to more stargazing trips with KaAS.

Photos from this trip can be found here.

Karachi Astronomers’ Society (KaAS) usually conduct public stargazing and sun viewing sessions in the city to educate people about astronomy, cosmology and astrophotography using everything from ordinary binoculars to high end astronomical equipment.

You can find more details about upcoming public sessions and stargazing trips on their facebook page: www.facebook.com/KarachiAstronomy