Astronomica Events

Heliodyssey 2009

Heliodyssey is a project of SPACE to follow the Total Solar eclipses all over the world and perform experiments. SPACE, a national body working for the popularisation of astronomy and space science has been organising the solar eclipse expedition. Solar eclipses are still feared in India and lot of myths and superstitions are propagated in our society by unscientific minds. Heliodyssey is an effort to stir young minds and thorough them bring a visible change in rationality and scientific temperament of Indian society. Every year SPACE is dedicated to take team of students selected through an open book Online Competition to every possible place on the earth to watch and perform expriments during a Total Solar Eclipse.
In this highly prestigious project, school students from all over India will selected through an online exam. These selected students will travel to the location of Total Solar Eclipse internationally fully sponsored and will be trained in various experiments and scientific procedures. They become the part of the official SPACE team of astronomers and scientist to work on various experiments during the Total Solar Eclipse and record the event scientifically. They will not only get a chance to represent their school and themselves internationally but the exposure opens their horizon for scientific research and the cultural diversity adds to their personality.  Scientific & Social Importance of Heliodyssey: The aim behind Heliodyssey event is to inculcate interest of common man towards Abstract Science and to study the scientific phenomenon which is caused due to the geometrical positioning of these heavenly bodies.

To sum up the various factors are:
-  Promotion of Scientific Temperament
-  Exposure of masses to scientific procedures
-  Developing interest towards astronomy and science
-  Stimulating critical thinking
-  Breaking myths and superstitions associated with solar eclipse
-  Exposure to International Astronomy community

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100 Hours of Astronomy

The biggest celebration of astronomy ever to happen on the planet Earth - The International Year of Astronomy - 2009 (IYA2009) is going on. Its a complete year dedicated to Astronomy! The aim of this global celebration - IYA2009 - is to make everyone realise the impact of astronomy and other fundamental sciences on our daily lives, and understand how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society.
‘100 Hours of Astronomy (100HA)’ is one of the cornerstone project of IYA2009 - It is a worldwide event with a wide range of public outreach activities including observing events and more taking place during a 100-hour period all over the globe from 2nd-5th April 2009.  One of the key goals of 100HA is to have as many people as possible look through a telescope as Galileo did for the first time 400 years ago.

SPACE has organized 100 Hours of Astronomy at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi from 2nd to 5th April 2009. More than 2000 people were involved in astronomy through this project/event.

Day 1: 2nd April, 2009 100 hours of astronomy had a great start at the Jantar Mantar, New Delhi starting at the sunrise. Both aspects of amateur astronomy were covered, showing the observatory to public and explaining its significance and also taking the observational data during the day to enrich the understanding about this masonic observatory which stands tall in the heart of Delhi
Curious visitors of Jantar Mantar got to know about the scientific heritage, which was very unusual for them as Jantar Mantar looks kike a maze to them.

Day 2: 3rd April, 2009 The day began with measurement of Sun's Declination from the Niyat Chakra of the Misra Yantra instrument, the technique was also explained to an audience of 7 people watching the web cast from around the world. Our webcast audience kept asking us questions over the chat. One woman from US said that she come to India more than decade ago and wanted to learn about the Jantar Mantar, and now she was happy.

This webcast was followed by Dr. Rathnasree, director Nehru Planetarium, New Delhi together with Mr. Vikrant Narang. Scientific Officer, SPACE giving a tour of all the instruments over the webcast. We've been trying to webcast our activities from Jantar Mantar since last many years, finally it was achieved.

We also performed calibration of the Samrat Yantra instruments by marking the Local Solar Time lines for every minute on a flex sheet, stretched over the horizontal portion of its dial. We hope to achieve an accuracy of about 10 seconds in reading the LST with these markings. Samrat Yantra was designed to give an accuracy of 2 seconds originally, but that is really challenging because of the penumbra problem.

Sidewalk astronomy continued throughout the day with our educators showing people safe ways to view Sun through the solar viewing glasses and a projected image of the Sun through a telescope. People were also told about the July 22nd TSE passing from India. In the evening, a huge number of people gathered to see the craters of the moon and Saturn, lots of questions were asked by people and the young children really enjoyed the sight. A bright (-2.4) mag ISS pass was the highlight of this sidewalk astronomy. (Total number of people who were shown the sun: 300, Total number of people who were shown Moon and Saturn: 250)

In the evening, we screened the classic video 'Powers of 10' for an audience of over 100 people which covers the smallest structures of the universe (sub atomic particles) to some of the largest (galactic super clusters) in 40 orders of magnitude. It was an incredible journey which left the audience amazed by making them realize first the insignificance of our size in the universe and at the same time realizing how tiny are the particles that make us up.

This was followed by the screening of around the Live webcast of 'Around the World in 80 Telescopes'

Day 3: 4th April, 2009 was the most exciting day in SPACE 100 hours celebrations so far; in spite of a hectic previous day, our team arrived at Jantar Mantar by 9:00 AM. Being
Saturday, we were expecting a huge crowd. Many schools students and teachers (some of them being members of SPACE) from Amity International School, Saket, KR Mangalam World School, Greater Kailash - II; Birla Vidya Niketan, Pushpa Vihar; Delhi Public School, Ghaziabad; Gurunanak Public School, Pitam Pura; Tagore International School, East of Kailash and Indian School joined in the 100HA celebrations.

April 4th was also celebrated as the 3rd International Side Walk Astronomy Night (ISAN).

We have placed two 5” Newtonian Reflectors near Mc Donalds at Inner Circle, Cannaught Place – Delhi’s one of the most well known market places and an 8” at the Jantar Mantar manned by Subir, Scientific Officer, SPACE.

Soon curious onlookers realizing that the show was free, started lining up behind the telescopes, at one point the line reached about 20 meters in length behind one of these scopes. Lots of questions were asked about Saturns Rings and Moons Craters. The lines only finished an hour after completely after the shops had all closed down by 10:30 PM. A total of more than 2250 people got their first glimpse of Moon and Saturn – a sight first seen by Galileo 400 years back.

Three cheers for 100HA-truly an event 400 years in the making.

To the sky, which enthralls!!!

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