Blog Archives

Moon between Procyon and Gemini

Moon between Procyon And Gemini

Hey, Do you see the moon tonite. Isn’t it beautiful?  So what are these stars nearby? Or are they planets? The whole week it had been  raining. But now, though the sporadic showers we can have  a beautiful sky tonight.

Tonight at 11:00 p.m ( local Mauritian Time), in our sky the moon which is in its waxing gibbous phase, is between three stars. The star above the moon is Procyon. Procyon is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Minor (the small Dog). And below the moon we have two stars Castor and Pollux. These two stars are in the constellation Gemini (the Twins).

Towards the West, you can have a look at Sirius, the brightest star in our skies. Sirius is in the constellation Canis Major (the Big Dog). And towards North West you would have to raise your head to see Mars , a bright looking yellow star in the constellation Leo. Though as I said Mars looks like a star but is not. It’s a planet. So have a look before it starts raining cats and dogs again.

Did you know that in the Southern Hemisphere, the moon passes between the Gemini stars and Procyon once a month? And people living in the Northern Hemisphere will see the moon, Gemini stars, and Procyon in their southern evening sky. They’ll see the scene “upside down,” with Procyon shining below the moon, and Castor and Pollux above the moon?

Night sky scene in the northern hemisphere

You still don’t understand? Ok, just do the up-stand position in front of the night sky, you would get the “upside down” scene.


The 2012 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

The 2012 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

The Global Astronomy Month in April 2012 brings the 3rd International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Coordinated by TWAN the contest is open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world.

From now through Earth Day, April 22, an on-line “Earth and Sky” photo contest is open for submission by any photography enthusiasts of any age from around the world. International projects The World at Night and Global Astronomy Month along with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory are the organizers of the Earth and Sky Photo Contest. The contest was founded by TWAN and Dark Skies Awareness project in 2008 as a regional program. It was expanded to an international effort in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy. In 2011 participants from over 30 countries submitted a wonderful collection of nightscape images. The contest news was broadcasted by major science news media world-wide and the winning images were widely promoted this way. With the growing efforts of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), the organization behind the Global Astronomy Month, the Earth and Sky Photo Contest will have an even larger feedback this year.

Submitted photographs must be created in the “TWAN style” — showing both the Earth and the sky — by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) set against the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”. This is similar to general “Nightscape Photography” but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.

The contest theme, “Dark Skies Importance,” has two categories: “Beauty of the Night Sky” and “Against the Lights.” Photos submitted to the contest should aim to address either category: either to impress people on how important and amazing the starry sky is or to impress people on how bad the problem of light pollution has become. Both categories illustrate how light pollution affects our lives. Photographers can submit images to one or both categories. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos by the winners in the previous years: the 2011 winners, the 2010 winners, and other notable photos of 2010.
Winners this year will be announced by the end of April, to celebrate the end of GAM 2012.

A wide range of prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in both categories will be awarded. The prizes could include (as last years) telescope and camera mounts, telescopes, binoculars, astrophotography accessories, filters and gift certificates. The contest organizers wish to gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Oceanside Photo & Telescope (OPT), Canadian Telescopes, Vixen Optics, and Sky&Telescope magazine in obtaining some of the prizes. More information about the prizes and supporting companies will appear on this page soon.

Each entry must comply with the following requirements.

1- Size and format:
– Only photographs in digital format may be submitted. Photographs taken using film must be digitized for submission. Scanned prints may also be submitted.
– All entries must be accompanied by a short caption.
– Photographs must be submitted as high-quality JPEG files (level 10–12). The preferred color spaces are Adobe RGB (1998) and sRGB IEC61966-2.1. Contestants are strongly encouraged to use color management and to use one of these color spaces for their submitted images.
– Submitted photographs should be no larger than 1600 pixels across in their wide dimension and not smaller than 1200 pixels long. File size should be no larger than 2 Megabytes. Judges might request high-resolution files from finalists for final evaluation.

2- Number of submissions:
– No more than 5 photographs may be submitted per person. If the contestant submits more images, only 5 of them will be randomly selected. So extra submissions might result in removing your better images.
– Each contestant will be registered through the submission page and can edit profile and content, and add or remove their submitted images until the contest deadline.

3- Date of Photographs and Submissions:
– The contest highlights the recent efforts of landscape astrophotogtraphy. Images must be taken since January 1, 2011. Photographs taken before January 1, 2011 are ineligible.
– Photographs must be submitted from April 1 to the Earth Day, April 22, 2012. Winners will be announced by April 30, 2012.

4- Style and subject of the photos:
– Entries must combine elements of both Earth and Night Sky—i.e., landscape astrophotography.
– Entries must follow the contest theme of dark skies importance with displaying the beauties of starry skies or the problem of increasing light pollution.
– A pair or a series of comparing images to display the difference between dark and light polluted sky can be submitted as one entry. The comparing images can make strong public impression on importance of dark skies. See a TWAN example of such images here.
– Photographs may be taken through a telescope, but must combine Earth and Sky composed in the same photograph. Photographs taken through a telescope that show only the sky are ineligible.

5- Originality, image processing, and composite images:
– Minor burning, dodging, color and exposure correction is acceptable. Cropping is acceptable. Fish-eye lenses are acceptable. High dynamic range images and stitched panoramas are acceptable only if the combined parts are taken at approximately the same time and with the same setting. Digital composition of a series of photographs taken successively at the same location with the same lens pointed in the same direction, for example to create a digital star trail image, is acceptable. Any other changes to the original photograph not mentioned here are not acceptable, and will render the submitted photo ineligible for a prize.
– Composite images made by combining images taken at different locations, different times, or using different lenses are ineligible.

6- Copyright and legal notes:
– The submitted photo must be the original work of the contest entrant. The entrant must be the copyright holder of the submitted photo.
– The Photographer retains complete copyright, but agrees to have his/her photograph published on TWAN website and on other online media together with the report about the contest results.
– Model releases will be required for all winning photographs that contain a person in the image.
– Submitted photographs must not contain provocative, defamatory, sexually explicit or otherwise objectionable content. Entries may only be submitted on-line. Submitted photographs will be judged by a panel of TWAN photographers based on creativity, relevance to the topic, and aesthetic beauty. Contest prizes will be announced later this month. You can contact us for any further inquiry related to the contest.

 Submission Opens on April 1, 2012


Let’s capture immemorable moments….Give me a shout if you’re participating.

My First Observation

Rather would like to call it My First Night SKY gazing

Forgetting my new pair of binocs was not something willed upon but New Year 2012 was approaching and as the hump-jump was everywhere, the sky was absolutely something to be forgotten about.

Do, you think the sky can be just something taken for granted and not taken care about? Obviously, for the half of my life I had never taken any interest with the sky, nor does the mass of dumbed down populace.

So why this sudden rush to understand the sky now??

The sky has been always there, neither it is so “enchanting” nor “magnetic” but our eyes are so riveted to our laptop screens or our TV sets that we have almost no time to care for what’s happening above us. Or, to just even ponder about a sky so beautiful with all its mysteries there waiting to be explored upon.

The creation of the heavens and the earth is indeed greater than the creation of mankind; yet, most of mankind knows not.

(Quran 40:57)

At 12:00 a.m midnight, around the world as it is, the festivities started with the fire works show.

In Mauritius, at the peak of the Signal Mountain this fireworks time-lapse was taken.

Unbelievingly, by one in the morning of January 2012, everything quietened up. The night was still.  No stirring up of even the leaves on trees around.

I am still thinking why did I go out that night rather than sleep?

So, my first observation did happen on 01/01/2012. How do I remember this? I think reading a review somewhere  I  came upon the advice that if you are entering this amateur astronomy hobby, ever if you are observing even for a few minutes , just record the observations. It would help you a lot.


Personally, while reviewing at my log notes in my personal diary, I looked foolish of what I had logged as my first observations, but it was so interesting that an amateur as me brought in my own astronomy definitions on my first time to the already defined observable universe.

Nevertheless, the first observation remains the best and the most memorable.

Perhaps this is why I am so much in love with  Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. These three prominent stars inthe central regions of the constellation of Orion align to form the ‘belt’ of the Hunter.

And surprisingly the whole world is also. Take any beginner’s guide to the sky, they would talk only Orion,Orion, Orion. I didn’t know about Orion or its belt, but perhaps this was a sign from The Creator that this is where you should start your journey to the universe. There is so much I have learned about these three that I am baffled and there is still more to come.

The actual observation

Standing towards the west, I saw this magnificently in front of me.

I continuously looked at this portion of the sky for 2 hrs straight

What I actually wrote as observational notes?

Night gazing: The axe

Naked eye: Concentrated dots

Binocs: Small dots.

01:00 – 03:00 am

I also drew the dots  in a diary.

What makes me foolish looking now is that I called the Orion belt as the axe’s blade and the Orion Nebulae as the axe’s handle.

Hey, if the Greeks can make out Gods out of stars why can’t I make my own Axe?

The Orion Hunter

So, I have already fallen in love with the sky, what are you waiting to raise your eyes to the beautiful night sky?

Binoculars or Binoscope

Reading an article on beginners in amateur astronomy, I came to understand that my search for telescopes is not at the right time. Telescope will not allow you or put you on the night viewing passion, but rather not knowing its efficient use may also lead its place to the closet.

Usually it is advised for any requiring hobby to start on by buying this or buying that. I was rather astonished to the fact that most experienced amateur astronomers usual first time advice is to get familiar with the night sky, with the constellations and with the stars before buying anything. (As if they know, that once you get in this field then your aperture fever or drooling on the latest equipment never dies).

Therefore, I took the advice to buy a binocular first rather than buying the telescope. And in fact the next day, I went to buy my first binoculars. A 10 x 50. Explanation to what is this 10 x 50 is given in the following youtubes. I like this guy’s simple explanations.

But my astonishment found no bounds when you come to know  that binoculars are not only this size but can they be larger or bigger.


As to be said, the nerd notion was a bit less understood, so this post is an upgrade of nerdiness to be found in the amateur astronomy world. Browsing through the internet you find a lot but, which marks your interest may be only a selected few.

I regret the fact that there are others who call these people nerds or fools but I would rather call them enthusiasts.

You don’t even understand or need to understand the love they have for the night.

So, what do you say now, A good pair of Binoculars or Binoscope?

You want to buy a telescope?

One night it happened to me that yeah I have to buy a telescope so that I could have a look at the sky. It would be something that my children could use and see  a bit through the night sky. Perhaps this sudden  rage to buy happened by viewing  shot from the films where the there is a scene of a child viewing through a telescope and then the father calls him to sleep , I don’t remember the film though.Kinda want a help on that though.

So back to the subject I had to buy a telescope but  where to start about………(As I said previously said this blog is an absolute nerds guide to the universe. As such I googled a bit on telescope ( as I knew it is called a telescope) but again, it was a dead-end.

How can someone buy a telescope when one has not the least info on what to buy.

So, I don’t know how but it came up to me that telescope using and playing through should be a hobby for some people out there, obviously I won’t go to an astronomer to ask which telescope to buy , especially when I had spared about  Rs 1500 (about $50) to buy a toy for me and the children.

I am a heavy user of YouTube so first of all I youtubed  “Telescope”  in the Search block. And obviously  came up with Expertvillage to give me some ideas on what telescope to buy. It is somewhat there or perhaps somewhere else  that I learned about the word AMATEUR ASTRONOMY.

So I googled  “AMATEUR ASTRONOMY” and I got a few titles to choose.  And it is normal psychology to choose among the best and in my opinion I got to choose the best of all the amateur astronomy websites  in the world.  It is usual to see amateur astronomy links highlighted on the first google page but perhaps Rocket Roberts is the best of amateur astronomers that his oldy website is still appearing on the google page.

amateur astronomy search

Nevertheless to mention that google has saved a lot of people.

So google saved my day or the whole night cause I spent the whole night till 8:00 in the morning perusing  everything on Rocket Roberts website about telescopes.

%d bloggers like this: