BENGALURU: As kids, we all enjoyed looking at the stars in the night sky and enthusiastically listened to the stories about the existence of another world. The group Amateur Astronomers and Photographers is helping many people fulfill their childhood dreams.
“Though the group was registered about four years back, it was not active until an year ago” says S Venkatesh who brought back the enthusiasm in the group. The group meets once or twice a month to discuss astronomy and astrophysics. They discuss about identifying a star or a planet or constellations to the moons of Saturn and Jupiter.
The first sight of the Saturn is what got this banker interested in astronomy. Says Venkatesh, “I went to Kavalur observatory while pursuing masters in Physics. At their public outreach programme, I saw the ring of the Saturn and that’s what caught my interest.” He has permanently installed a telescope at his apartment where he spend his weekends. He is joined by the children in the neighbourhood to get a view of the space. He also owns specialised web cameras for the planet photography and regular DSLR cameras. He says, “I mount the cameras on the telescope. It acts as a lens and camera as recording equipment.”
The 125 members in the group are from varied backgrounds like engineering, students, bankers and homemakers. For Sujay Hegde who was a science student, astronomy helps him stay in touch with the subject. He says, “I have always enjoyed looking at the sky. But I only owned a binocular. I learned about the group and their equipments on the internet. I joined about six months ago.”
The group conducts outdoor observations during the season. Venkatesh says, “The best time for an outdoor observation is from about late November to mid April as the sky is clear.” A marketeer Surabhi Anand adds, “Celestial objects usually start appearing in between 6 pm to 7 pm.” But the time sometimes differs on which astronomical body you are looking for. The group member adds, “For this you can refer to information provided by Google and look specifically for time and position of the stars from Bengaluru.”
Joined about six months ago, she says she finds the group more approachable than other groups. “Unlike most of the people, I have no science background but they explain the subject well. The members are pretty knowledgeable.”
A homemaker Ashwini D who joined in November last year, says that the group is more active on the WhatsApp. They are into regular discussions about space. Ask if she thinks aliens exist, she laughs and says, “A part of us believe there are other worlds existing in this universe. They wouldn’t be carbon based forms like us but it is impossible that we are the only planet with life in this vast universe.”