Behold the real stars

Most of us at some point or other in our lives have looked up at the sky and wondered, what is that bright star? What are those light streaks in the sky? At the Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS), we want people to get answers to these questions and learn more about our universe.

BAS, a registered non-profit organisation, started in 2006 by a group of seven astronomy enthusiasts, has now 70 paid members and hundreds more, part of the e-group. We want to nurture people’s interest in astronomy, one of the few areas of studies that is ancient and yet modern. We conduct workshops and public outreach programmes. We also organise observation trips outside Bangalore for deep sky observations of Galaxies, nebula and star clusters.

I can kind of remember the first time I saw through a telescope, I was mesmerised and that feeling is totally unexplainable. When some people come up to the eyepiece for the first time, I see them experiencing the same sort of feeling,  not willing to move away from the eyepiece, literately  speechless; just a awe-inspiring feeling of being a part of such a massive universe.

Crowds waiting for their turn at the telescope at Hebbal. Pic: Naveen Nanjundappa.

The year 2009 is the International year of Astronomy celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first telescope based astronomical observation by Galileo Galilee. As part of these celebrations, we have launched a 30 day stargazing programme called ‘Sidewalk Astronomy’. We are conducting a series of public stargazing sessions in and around the city, every day, all October. Each day, one of the 15 or so volunteers will be showing celestial objects to people through a telescope, in some neighbourhood.

“Over 2000 people have peeped into the telescopes in the first six days of this initiative”, says Naveen Nanjundappa, the current Vice President, BAS. He guesses, the entire month of skywatching is probably the longest such initiative in the world. We hope the events will help some people to start off in Astronomy and what better way to do it than the way Galileo did 400 years ago. ⊕

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