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Mahab’s Visit January 21, 2006

Posted by gantech in Personal Experiences.

Yesterday I had gone to Mahabalipuram along with my friends Aswin, Arun and Dr.Suresh. The purpose of the visit was simple, to go to darker skies for Astonomy observations. Dr.Suresh had a 10" Meade Schmidt Cassegraine Telescope and a 8MPX Digi Canon SLR, a Philips ToUcam (webcam) and a laptop… and more important of all.. a resort in Mahabalipuram (one of his relatives owns it)..

We went in a Tata Estate from here. Reached there by around 9.30 pm after having dinner. On the way we could see more and more stars (i.e the sky getting better) as we travelled every km. The Orion – Sirius region looked brilliant even through the car window. Then it took us around one and a half hours to get the scope in action (Aligning the telesope became a problem). We started off at 11.00 pm thinking we have atleast 2 full hours before the moon rises. Unfortunately it was not to be so and the FOG played spoilsport. The corrector plate of the Telescope was full of dew in less than 30 minutes. And then Arun came with the idea of using the powerful lamp that Dr.Suresh had to heat up the dew.

We had partial success in that. Then Dr.Suresh got some tissue paper and cleaned the plate. But it was never at it's best. A lesson to learn I guess…

Then we tried many objects. We tried seeing arbitrary open clusters using the scope's goto and both Aswin and Arun got a taste of what I got the other day at Dr.Suresh's home (7-8 clusters in less than 4 minutes.. impossible by any means in a telescope without a goto). We tried a lot to catch atleast one globular, but in vain (hey.. the sky was so brilliant that the Orion Nebula looked like a very Dense Globular through the "30 x 60" Bino that we had). Coming to galaxies.. we tried the Leo Triplet in vain. The best (and the only one) that we saw was M81 (a galaxy that we put a lot of fight to see through our telescopes but in vain) But the dew settled again. Now we were sort of starting to give up.

Time was already 1.30 am. The moon was well up and DSO's (Deep Sky Objects) were out of the question. Dr.Suresh said we'll give a try at Webcam imaging of Saturn. So we tried. And we did get a good image (stacked later).

Time was around 2.15 am now. Then in about five minutes the FOG became very intense. The visibility came down to less than about 10m very fast. We decided "THAT'S IT". We could have come prepared for the dew, but defy not for this kind of fog. This was way beyond any precautions that could have been taken. (My 5MPX Nikon Digicam couldn't take pics properly because the lens was getting covered with water). We had to give up our dream of a solo pic of each of us with the scope. We packed up and went to our room.

After going to the room we decided to stack up the images and see how our only good work of the night looked like. The comp was hanging hajaar and after some time of fundaes putting by Arun and Dr.Suresh we gave up on that too.

Leaving Dr.Suresh in the room we decided to pay a visit to the beach. The resort was on the shore. After about 30 minutes of Photo session (I would rate it amongst the best of the times that I spent there.. We really got some good pics) amongst us we came back and slept at around 4.30 am.

We got up in the morning at about 9.00 am. It was good to see the resort in daylight. A complete contrast. It looked really beautiful.

We had our breakfast by the shore (first time experience for me).

Then we packed our bags and left for Chennai. Overall it was a very memorable experience. But I would like to go there again some time with better preparation against this damned dew and do some good astrophotography.



1. aswin - January 22, 2006

so. u chose this theme!!.. this is shaady one..it does not allow u to display the blog’s name!! 🙂
I have decided to stick with blogger inspite of the advts of wordpress. Check out my new theme at blogger. Had to write quite a bit of css!

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