There is something about the infinity and mystery of celestial wonders that we just can’t deny! If you, like us, are ever-intrigued by the beauty of the cosmos, you can start by exploring your hobby, right here in Namma Bengaluru. Here is your handbook to becoming an amateur astronomer:
Start off by joining a group. Bangalore has two active unions related to astronomy as a hobby à
Association of Bangalore Amateur Astronomers (1976)
An independent, non-profit housed in the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium. The ABAA frequently conducts fun and interactive activities like telescope building, night sky observation and astro-photography. Giving beginners the perfect induction is the ‘Know Your Stars’ program conducted on the first Sunday of every month. Besides giving an insight into the stars, constellations and planets, you can also learn about the basics of using a telescope! Also, take home a star chart as a souvenir, provided to all visitors, with a lesson on how to use it.
The BAS is a non-profit organization working for the promotion of astronomy as a hobby as well as a science for the city folk. Join their Google Group and be a part of all the trending discussions about latest astronomical developments and exciting activities. You can post your questions and have them answered, on topics related to the universe, astronomy, telescopes, stargazing, observing and astrophotography. Download their specially designed log books for free from their website – a great tool to kick-start your hobby! They even have certification programs such as the upcoming ‘Messier Catalogue Visual Observer’ – their first certification program to appreciate amateur astronomers for interest in visual observations.
Founded by the Bangalore City Corporation in 1989, it has become a landmark of the city and a fond memory of local school trips. With a 15 meter diameter dome, and seating capacity of 210, the planetarium also houses a Science Park and a Science Centre. The ‘Space Master’ projector showcases the night sky as seen with the naked eye to give a spectacular view. Attracting as many as 200,000 visitors a year, the’Sky- Theatre’ show blends science with art, literature and cultural aspects of many countries. With special visual effects, animation and videos, these shows are sure to provide an out-of-the-world experience, literally! Daily show timings (except on Mondays and second Tuesdays): 3 p.m. in Kannada and 4.30 p.m. in English.
Where to stargaze?
Hosahalli – about 20 km off Doddaballapur, approximatelely 70 km from Bangalore.
Shivanahalli – about 35 km from Bangalore. Here, the ABAA has a 12″ telescope for observations with many more activities for space lovers.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium – every Sunday at 6 pm, there are talks given by experienced amateurs on upcoming heavenly events as they await a clear night when the telescope is brought out for some serious stargazing.
Do your research – The Lunar Calendar is your almanac. Ask around for the best vantage points hit Google and the local astronomy websites to get a heads up on what to look out for on any particular night. Be observant of the movement of comets and stars, learn names of constellations and try your skill at spotting them!
Make use of technology – Several Apps are now available to feed the appetite of astronomers. The Google Skymap App can help you locate stars, constellations and the pole star among other things, while The SkEye Planetarium App (on android) calibrates the section of the sky you are pointing at (almost) instantly, with a huge database of deep sky objects for reference. AccuWeather App on the other hand can help you plan your stargazing night out on a clear night for best viewing.