Star Grazing Session on 26.02.2022

Report of a full night session of Astrophotography

On Saturday, 26th February, 2022 Ameya Deshpande, Nikhil Dhyani, Shishir Deshmukh, Mangesh Phatak and myself gathered at Akashmitra Office at Kalyan to take the telescope, mount and other equipment at around 2:00 PM. We started our journey in a car around 3:00 PM towards Dehene, which was our place of observation. Our route was, Kalyan – MamnoliMurbadShenaviDolkhambDehene. The road is in a great condition which provided us great comfort during the travel and we reached Dehene around 5:30 PM (The total Kalyan – Dehene distance is around 85 KM)

Dehene is a small village within the vicinity of famous Sahyadri mountains like Aajoba, Ratangad, Khutta, Alang Madan and Kulang. We were hosted by a local family in Dehene. They served us tea and snacks and we began our search for finalizing the exact place of observation.

Considering various factors like obstacles of the mountain ranges nearby, light pollution, power supply, safety, etc. We finally found a suitable place which still had small amount of light pollution in the West, but considering the other factors as well as the overall impact of the Western light pollution, we found the ground to be the most appropriate place for observation.

We started mounting our setup at around 7:00 PM. After setting up the mount and the telescope, we started balancing, polar aligning the scope and we successfully completed those procedures. But we faced some error while configuring and controlling the telescope with the laptop. We had dinner at around 10:00 PM. It consisted Bhakari, Bhaji, Kadhi, Rice, Dal and Papad prepared by the local family who hosted us.

Post dinner we assembled our tent and finally decided to align our telescope using the two star alignment method. We successfully aligned the telescope. We captured Asteroid Ceres which was in the constellation Taurus. Then we captured the Comet C/2019 L3 (ATLAS) which was in the constellation Gemini. Dark sky, tracking mount, well assessed camera settings helped us to take good long exposures and we were able to get some good photographs of the said objects.

Moonless sky was a boon! Then we started observing and photographing star 145 Canis Majoris which is a double star with amazing contrast. Then we observed and photographed some deep sky objects like M83 galaxy, some globular clusters like Omega Centauri, some other clusters in Centaurus, Hercules, Hydra, etc.

Then we changed the camera battery and the laptop battery and started taking periodic exposures at an interval of 3 minutes to plot the light curve of a short period Variable Star KY Hya. Our total exposure time for this star was 2 hours from 1:45 AM to 3:45 AM approximately. Clouds caused some hindrance in our variable star observation but it was quite negligible and we got good exposures as well.

At around 4:00 AM we photographed the Bernard Star. Meanwhile we tried some wide angle photography, capturing some Southern constellations, sky in the background of the tent and the mountains, Ursa Major, Ursa Major in the background of the telescope and so on which were just the by products.

At around 4:30 AM, we took rest in the tent. We had our morning tea and started our journey back to Kalyan at around 8:00 AM. We reached back at Akashmitra around 10:15 AM. We dropped the equipment at AM office and disbursed! Overall it was a wonderful and mesmerizing trip!

  • Archit Gokhale