Astronomical journey – A night in the dark skies of Pakistan

Astronomy is at its peak in Pakistan. It was February 2015 and my 3rd dark sky trip within 3 months. In Feb, it is winters here in Pakistan (in the northern hemisphere) and so skies are quite clear at night with many deep sky objects available in sky throughout the night. Some of them includes Andromeda Galaxy, double cluster, Pleiades, Orion Nebula, Flame Nebula and Horse head nebula. It was a Saturday when we left for the dark skies.

Pakistan match in the ICC World Cup 2015

We usually go with a group of 70+ people but this time due to World Cup Pakistan match, only a few people who are the hard core Astronomers joined us. So we were 15 people who solely joined us for Astronomy. Sometimes people come only for traveling purposes but we infect them with Astronomy.

Surprise 1

There were two surprises for the participants in the trip. The first one was that a participant who came in his own Car brought his 10″ Orion Star Quest dobsonian Telescope 🙂 Even I was surprised with it when he showed it to me.

A journey from Earth to the space – KASmos (inspired by Cosmos)

We reached at the venue quite early and so after a group introduction, we sat together and started discussing Astronomy. I took the lead by telling the history of Astronomy in Karachi, Pakistan and how far we have gone in this field as a hobby. Then we started with constellations and what we can see in the sky during day and night. We started with Earth and traveled to the Sun. Discussed the properties and formation of Sun and then moved to each planet one by one discussing the following

  • Where to see it from Earth
  • How does it looks like
  • What impacts it has on our Earth
  • Formation and features
  • Moons

Then we discussed the Solar system in general along with Asteroids, Comets and the kuiper belt and oort cloud. Then we moved out of the Solar system and discussed the different stars, star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies. We explained the participants where to see these objects in the night sky. Inspired by the Cosmos by Carl Sagan, we had a very informative session followed by Q/A session. Each and every one there participated fully and tried to gather as much questions as possible and we tried to answer as much as possible. I still remember people were asking questions even at night time and were trying to relate the sky with our tour given during the day time. Later when we told this to our KAS (Karachi Astronomers Society) fellows, I kept the name of this session as KASmos (inspired by Cosmos).

We discussed in detail the path of the comet and a recent comet pass Lovejoy! We shared photos of it with the participants

IMG_9824

During KASmos

 

During KASmos

During KASmos explaining the working of Telescope. Shot by Sajjad.

The conjunction of Moon Venus and Mars

As soon as the sun set, the equipment was ready and the sky was looking beautiful in the twilight with Moon, Venus and Mars shinning very brightly towards the western horizon. It was a conjunction of Moon, Venus and Mars.

Moon, Venus and Mars Conjunction

Moon, Venus and Mars Conjunction

Objects seen with Telescope during the whole night

The list is compiled by Sajjad Ahmad.

Crescent Moon
Venus
M31 – Andromeda Galaxy
Double Clusters of Perseus
Jupiter
M45 Pleiades
M42 Orion Nebula
M46 open cluster
M44 Beehive
M81 Bode’s Galaxy
M82 Cigar Galaxy
M51 Whirlpool Galaxy
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy
M3 Globular Cluster
M65, M66, NGC 3628 Leo Triplet
NGC 3384 Galaxy in Leo
M104 Sombrero Galaxy
M13 Great Cluster of Hercules
M5 Globular Cluster
Omega Centauri
Saturn
Epsilon Lyrae (Double Double of Lyra)
M57 Ring Nebula
Albireo Double
Collinder 399 (Coathanger)
M7 open cluster
M6 Butterfly Cluster
M20 Trifid Nebula

and few meteors and satellites.

Venus and Mars

Venus and Mars

 

M45 Pleiades

M45 Pleiades

Beehive Cluster in Cancer

Beehive Cluster in Cancer

A group photo with Milky Way

A group photo with Milky Way. Shot by Hanif Bhatti. Edited By Abubaker.

 

Surprise 2

The other surprise that I gave people was the rise of the Milky way long before Sun rise. I woke all the participants who were sleeping to witness the Sagittarius arm of the Milky way.

Orion in the restaurant

The following morning while going back to Karachi from the dark site location, we stopped for breakfast at a local dhaba. We were served with water bottles with the name “Orion” on it 😀 What a fully Astronomy filled event it was!

Abubaker Siddiq Shekhani

Abubaker Shekhani is an IT Entrepreneur and Full Stack Developer. He is the co-founder and the Developer behind Mytabeeb, a health care solution. He has worked for 3 years in Microsoft Dynamics AX space with Techno-functional role and lucky to be one of few Microsoft Dynamics AX developers in Pakistan. He is TEDx speaker and likes to speak in public. He is an Astrophotographer and has captured Milky way and other night sky objects. He is the founding member of Karachi Astronomers Society. He is a Bonsai Artist and a Gardener. He can be reached at me@abubakershekhani.com.

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