Photographic Astronomical Sky Survey

by Skyward with AstronAmar

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About the project :


Amar Sharma from Bangalore is an amateur astronomer (title) for last 15 years, one who chose to make his profession popularizing astronomy and making the society look up at the night sky, without becoming a professional astronomer. An experienced observational astronomer having spent thousands of hours under the night sky observing faint celestial objects with manual telescopes, Amar is also far too involved in many other creative areas of astronomy (anything that is not theoretical and mechanical). He is an: invigorated communicator, very expressive writer, author of the upcoming deepest book in life in amateur astronomy (around 500 pages; 3 volumes), 4 volume encyclopedia on 20th century history of worldwide comet hunters, ccd camera imager, astrosketcher, dark sky conservator & fighting light pollution, pioneer of astronomy tourism in India, working towards making practical astronomy part of schools, and more. He has taken the awareness & love of astronomy to a several thousand people of Bangalore.

The pitch:

Asteroids that hurtle close to earth -- for an astronomer even 1 Lunar distance is "close" -- can pose a likely threat. In 2005 the U.S. Congress assigned NASA the task of detecting 90% of near-Earth objects with a size greater than 140 meters in diameter by the year 2020. Statistics say asteroids with a diameter of roughly 7 meters enter earth's atmosphere with as much energy as Little Boy (the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, approximately 15 kilo-tonnes of TNT) about every 5 years. The flux of impactors (which do not fully incinerate in the atmosphere) is not too less to be discounted.

While this is the serious side of an astronomer's "day" job, we have a lighter side too. To explore the night sky, the way thousands of amateur astronomers over the world are involved and absorbed in.

Our proposition is we want to erect a smaller scale observatory for a sky survey looking out for Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) [asteroids, comets], monitoring the night sky every single, clear, night -- thereby serving as "night sky watchmen" for life here on earth!

Situated in southern part of India, closer to the equator (latitude +12* N), we wish to take up the torch and do our bit of sky scanning to look out for these NEAs & PHAs, especially in the southern sky, and create our own inventory of such celestial objects discovered from India. Nothing like this initiative for "safeguarding" mankind exists even in the professional (academic) fraternity of India, which we passionate amateurs (observational) want to take up, even if its a small scale setup.

On a lighter note, we want to educate & motivate laymen and beginners, enthusiasts, into the life of an astronomer by facilitating them to use equipment that only advanced amateurs over the world can fruitfully utilize. We want you to join us in scanning the skies as well with taking beautiful pictures of distant celestial objects, situated as remote as several tens of millions of light years away. Well even more, into hundreds of millions of light years! We want you to learn astronomy not just through books -- there is no exposure to advanced observational astronomy in India -- but by participating in our night sky observations, thereby contributing to the grandest of all sciences. We want you to master the night sky as well as enjoy the beauty of observing heavenly wonders through using technological equipment.

The equipment we need for this, we propose, is a 10-inch f/5 newtonian reflector on an EQ6 Pro mount. We also need an advanced ccd camera for this purpose. Also needed is an image processing & analysis software called Maxim DL Pro Suite for the automated identification. We have identified a very dark sky site at Coorg (Western Ghats) with naked eye magnitude 6.0, where we plan to install this private observatory. A city dweller will be stunned -- and near-paralyzed! -- to see so many stars studded in the carpet of the sky because this pitch dark site is almost free from any source of light pollution; a sight of Nature not availed in today's life, due to urbanization everywhere.

Welcome to Astronomy...! There is just nothing better than this for us mortals...


NOTE: The above pictures of some comets are taken with our ccd camera on another telescope setup

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