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News Updates » 30 October 2009


Galilean Nights in Pune

Galilean Nights was a global star party held across the world on the evenings of 22-24th October 2009, to commemorate 400 years since Galileo first looked to the heavens and changed the universe for us, forever. This was the second global star party organised this year, after the 100 Hours of Astronomy outreach programme in April, as a part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. A few members of the College of Engineering (CoEP) Astronomy Club had been volunteers 100HA, working with a team from GMRT. When news came in regarding Galilean Nights, we decided to hold a small event ourselves, on the night of the 22nd October 2009 (Friday).

Publicity for the event was limited slightly by the fact that the event was only decided 5-6 days before the 22nd. Considerable publicity was generated in our college, and some publicity was done across Pune. The plans for the evening were not very elaborate. We planned to have five telescopes (one 4”, three 6”, one 12”, all Newtonian) to show the Moon and Jupiter. We also planned to have a short presentation on the contribution of Galileo to astronomy. Due to the number of people who came, we also decided to give people a short tour of the night sky at that time. Since the sky in Pune was moderately cloudy, we could only see Cassiopeia and the summer triangle.

Response to the event was excellent. Over 200 people turned up for the show, which lasted a little over 2 hours. Considering the limited publicity that we had been able to do, we were quite happy with the turnout. The crowd was inquisitive and curious about all that we showed them. The view of the Moon through the 12” was a sight to behold. We were able to show people only two satellites of Jupiter (since Callisto and Io were behind/in front of Jupiter). During the presentations, people were informed of the work that Galileo had done. The house was thrown open to the audience for questions after the presentation was completed. After the presentation, the crowd was sent to the terrace of the Dept. of Instrumentation and Control. Here, in order to keep the crowd occupied until the telescopes were available, a small sky show was held.

Galilean nights 2009 has been a fantastic experience for the members of the CoEP Astronomy Club. We also hope that we managed to convert a few of the 200 odd people who turned up to the magic of amateur astronomy.

Mohit Karve
for the CoEP Astronomy Club