telescope

Astrophotography in 2016

Here are the snippets from all the astronomy I’ve done in 2016.

Waxing gibbous Moon as on 22nd Jan. 2016

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On 6th Mar. 2016 I was a part of our usual Urban astronomy session with these awesome people  at Sahal Telescopes and Binoculars headquarter.

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From L: Ramiz,Zain,ME,Farrukh & telescope

On 18th Apr. I attended first event of ‘Global Astronomy Month’ by Karachi Astronomers Society at Zamzama Park. It was a public event for viewing Moon & Jupiter via telescope. We have 2 telescopes; 6 inch SkyWatcher Dobsonian telescope & 90mm telescope. Attended by 500 people and lots of them are curious about these telescopes & the objects in the sky.

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On 24th April there was another Global Astronomy event where I viewed Sunspots through telescope at ‘Solar Sunday & Jupiter Watch’ held by Karachi Astronomers Society at PIA Planetarium.

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On 9th May I had an amazing opportunity  to witness Mercury Transit at the Kastrodome observatory. This event is so rare that it happened only 13 times in a century.

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On  18th May, as a premium member of Karachi Astronomers Society (KAS) I received members kit containing a t-shirt, car sticker, membership card, solar glasses & contact card.

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On 16th June I captured 87% illuminated waxing gibbous Moon in Karachi. It’s amazing to see the crater details near the terminator.

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On 13th Aug. I was so excited for the Perseid meteor shower as it was  the peak night. I spent 5hrs on my roof. First there was some scattered clouds in Karachi then at 4am it was all cloudy. My meteor count was 13 and captured two in my camera.

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On 17th Sep. there was Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, which is different from normal Lunar Eclipse. Penumbral Lunar Eclipse is only a semi darkening of the moons limbs, so it’s quite hard to notice with naked eye. I was on my roof from 8pm-1am to witness this. I setup my camera for time-lapse video but then I decided to make a Moon Collage to show  the change with time.

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On 6th Oct. I captured 16.2% illuminated waxing crescent moon in Karachi as I love the details of waxing crescent.

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21st Oct. was the peak night of Orionid Meteor Shower in Karachi so I was at my roof at 4am it was quite humid but the sky was clear so I setup my camera and luckily just before fajr prayers I captured 2 meteors in my camera. In 1.5 hrs I’ve seen 10 meteors. In the picture you can see the brightest star Sirius, M42 only nebula which is visible with naked eye, Betelgeuse  and of-course the Orionid Meteor. . . Have you seen any meteor shower in your city ?

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On 14th Nov. there was  a Supermoon which is the closest supermoon since January 26, 1948 and  the moon won’t come this close to Earth again until November 25, 2034. I shared that photo on twitter and  Maddie Stone from Gizmodo asked me if he can share that picture with credit.

 

After that conversation that image has been featured at Gizmodo.

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All the images can be found at #fnastronomy hashtag on instagram.

 

 

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A little Journey to the Heavens Above – Throwback

A throwback! We usually do our Urban astronomy sessions with Ramiz, Shaheryar and Zain Bhai. This session happened on 4th Nov. 2014. Original post can be found here.

To explore the Heavens above recently I’ve done two stargazing sessions in one week thanks to my astro friends. Here are the details Why, Where, How we do these sessions.

WHY ?

People frequently asked me ‘Why am I doing these stargazing sessions ?’ , ‘Why are you interested in Astronomy ?’ , ‘What can you see above, it’s just same old sky ?’. Okay first let me clear what Astronomy is coz most of the people mistaken it with Astrology. Astronomy is the study of celestial objects like stars, moon, planets and the galaxies and the physics and the chemistry of these objects while Astrology is the study of the movements and relative positions of celestial bodies interpreted as having an influence on human affairs and the natural world. So both are quite different. Fours years back when I was new on twitter I met first person via twitter and he was @ramizq1 . He was the one who introduced me to this hobby as he is the member of Karachi Amateur Astronomers Society and also the first person to receive a tweet from ISS in Pakistan. With him I’ve attended many public astronomy sessions and done 2 stargazing sessions when he newly bought SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian Telescope. On our first session I’ve seen Sunspots, Orion nebula, Polaris and planet Mars, rest of the details of that session are here. For me these stargazing sessions give me an opportunity to explore the sky above and wondering how nature keeps everything in balance including all the stars and planets.

Where ?

I’ve done my first stargazing session with Ramiz at his roof back in October 2013 while these sessions we have done at Zain Bhai’s building roof which give us best view of east and west horizon.
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our view from the roof

How ?

Okay so let’s discuss how we are doing these sessions. We have following things to see the celestial objects in the sky.
1. SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian Telescope
2. Few eyepieces for the Telescope including 2x Barlow lens for magnification
3. Nikon 8 x 40 Binocular
4. Nikon Action 12×50 Binocular
5. Pocket Sky Atlas
6. Google Sky Map Android App
7. ISS Detector Android App
With SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian Telescope we can easily see Jupiter and it’s 4 moons and different galaxies while these binoculars can be used to see the Moon and some Messier objects. Pocket Sky Atlas is an ideal guide to explore the night sky it provides very detailed data about stars and galaxies with charts while Google Sky Map can give you name and location of the stars, planets and the galaxies visible from your location and with ISS Detector app you will know when and where to watch for the International Space Station (ISS) and Iridium Flares.
Watching the Jupiter with SkyWatcher 6" Dobsonian Telescope

Watching the Jupiter with SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian Telescope

What We Have Seen ?

On our first session which was on 4th Nov. we have seen the Moon, Jupiter and it’s four moons, NGC 2244 which is an open cluster in the Rosette Nebula,Winter Albireo aka 145 Canis Majoris which is most colorful double star in the winter sky and different Messier objects like M35, M36, M37, M38, M41, M46, M47 and M93. Messier objects are set of astronomical objects which include galaxies, nebula, planetary nebula, open cluster etc. List of Messier objects can be found here. On our next session which was on 8th Nov. we have seen the Moon, Jupiter and it’s three moons, Beehive (M44), Double star in Polaris or Pole star, M42 (Orion Nebula) which is a diffuse nebula situated in the Milky Way south of Orion’s Belt in the constellation of Orion and Iridium flare. We are also taking notes about the objects we have seen so we can discuss them.
Captured with SkyWatcher 6" Dobsonian Telescope and my mobile

Captured with SkyWatcher 6″ Dobsonian Telescope and my mobile

Both sessions were planned by Ramiz and Zain Bhai was too kind to provide us the telescope and the sleeping bags. He is a member of Karachi Amateur Astronomers Society and owner at Sahal Telescopes and Binoculars and he has the best telescopes in Pakistan including 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″ telescope and he also deliver telescopes throughout the Pakistan. 12×50 Binocular belongs to Shaheryar and 8×40 Binocular belongs to Ramiz.

All The FUN!

On our both sessions we had so much fun discussing about the stars and the planets. We invited some of the people to our session from the roof who were there and told them what we are seeing through the telescope.
From Left: Ramiz, a boy and Khalid Bhai who lives there

From Left: Ramiz, a boy and Khalid Bhai who lives there

 A curious boy come to us and asked ‘What we are doing here for hours ?’ We replied ‘See it for yourself’ and he was like ‘Moon looks so beautiful from the telescope’ and he was surprised when we told them that Jupiter has 67 Moons. Khaild Bhai has become our friend now and he always asked what are you seeing right now ? On our 2nd session there was a Barbecue going on on the other side of the roof and Khalid Bhai invites us to taste it.
From Left: Shaheryar and Ramiz enjoying the beef boti

From Left: Shaheryar and Ramiz enjoying the beef boti

As I tweeted earlier with twitter I’ve found so many great friends including Ramiz, Alhamdulillah! With these sessions my love for the astronomy has increased as it can help you in many ways like stars can tell you the direction and the season and I think the nebula and the open star clusters are the most beautiful things you can see through a telescope.

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