By Ali Khan
Following is an account of our group meeting of this morning. It is long. I hope that you enjoy as much as I did attending it.
At Mc Donalds
Meeting started at 11:15 and ended at 1:45 .
Ahsan, Omer, M. Ali, new Ali with 6″ reflector newtonian, Dr. Farhan and Umair (in order of arrival I think) attended. Dr. Farhan’s was a surprise entrance.
It was great to see everyone again and a new face too, that of Ali.
Dr. Farhan had just to cross the main Jail Road to come. He was doing house job in Services Hospital.
Ahsan told us of his leather factory near Kamoki. Omer persued the idea of a star night there this coming Saturday and it is final now. M. Ali said that Murree area can be arranged easily. Its his area he said. New Ali said the he too had a place outside Lahore worth checking out.
Dr. Farhan asked where to get a telescope and how much would it cost. A question was what was the difference between an expensive bino and a low end telescope. Ahsan told us of this shop in Nisbet Road.
New Ali’s scope had two minor problems. The secondary was missing altogether. Result of attack by children. Its seat was not directly in front of the focusing tube. Only half of the light cone could possibly come out the side. This was probably due to incorrectly placed focuser. He was told never to wipe the main mirror or even talk into it.
The place had just opened at 11 so while we talked, they washed the windows from outside and inside. Music was initially very loud until new Ali asked them to keep it low.
Umair told M. Ali that his next scope must be a reflector of atleast a 6″ and with goto. Maybe Orion Intelliscope. Umair said that aperture was a major aim to achieve for resolution.
Ahsan said that when he finds an object after a difficult hunt, he makes sounds which surprises his neighbors. I said that after a good view of M45 I sometimes sing. It is natural to make sounds after a find.
M. Ali said the feeling of astronomers who saw sky objects for the first time must be very different from us who see objects which have already been discovered.
Omer said that he had great time at Topi GIK with his 8″. He used goto on many galaxies and each time there they were, right in the centre of fov. Such treat he never got at Lahore.
He said he had been enjoying the Moon too a lot.
Umair said that in order to see the Red spot of Jupiter or divisions in rings of saturn, one must have atleast 8″ aperture.
Dr. Farhan said that his house job times have been difficult. 30 hours, then 18 hours then 30 hours again. He recently moved here from General Hospital. He is in medical unit 2 (one of 5 such units). His job required finding cure through medicines as opposed to surgery, which is used as a last resort.
Ahsan said that last night he was up till 3am. He hunted out two or three Messier objects. He said that the hunt was as enjoyable as finding the object itself. Umair said that with goto one is able to see many more objects in a short time compared to star hopping which leaves one exhausted with few objects bagged.
Ahsan said that the shop at Nisbet Road was a complete thief and one should import directly from China instead of going to him. New Ali also related an experience with him where the shopkeeper tried to sell a Chinese scope as made in USA.
There was also discussion as to how the view was through Newtonian or SCT or refractor compared to binos. Umair said that even our eyes see upside down. At birth children see upside down. Somehow their brain changes that vision to right way up. Why it does that is unclear. He said that once NASA did an experiment. Some participants were made to see upside down. Initially they had great trouble but afterwards they functioned normally. Even played games normally. Ahsan said that he had to invert his iphone when hunting. Umair said iphone is champion due to its huge collection of softwares. He also praised Starry Night a lot. It contained GBs of data.
Ahsan said that while searching he saw a satellite. Umair said that it happens often. They sometimes disturb his videos also. Ahsan asked about astrophotography. Umair said a web cam, with lens removed, can be taped to an empty film cannister and this inserted into focusser. A video can be taken (with highest frames per second) even with manual tracking. Then frames can be stacked and digital developing done to obtain stunning pictures. Ahsan showed a full Moon pic which had a black spec on it.
There was mention that at Sakardu the sky is so clear that it is stunning to see so many stars. Ahsan said that south of Lahore he could make of 4 stars of M45. It seemed that stars had been thrown everywhere. Umair said that at Thandiani it is sometimes tough to get a clear night but when it comes, its matchless. M. Ali said that Thandiani can be approached easily from Abbotabad but also from Nathia Gali. He said that there were a few good hotels at Doonga Gali and they had a large lawns from where sky could be seen without obstruction of trees.
Omer left first after finalizing the Saturday trip. We are to meet at chauburji at 5 to go to Ahsan’s place.
During his night broadcast, Umair said that one chatter asked what guide scopes he used. He replied that he did not. He relied only on his mount. He can locate the north pole with an accuracy of 2 arc seconds. Umair said that he saw that when other people broadcasted, the picture sometimes went off centre. His remained rock steady. He personally supervised the construction of his observatory pillar to ensure that it was totally flat.
Then an intense long dense discussion started between M. Ali and Umair with participation of Ahsan. It revolved around religion and evolution (belief in life after death and athiesm) and intelligence and mans place compared to other animals (which neither did research or added to our body of knowledge). M. Ali said that in a way we are all reborn. Our atoms reappear as different things or objects. Ahsan said that there was a language barrier. Maybe if we could talk to dogs or elephants or whales, maybe they could teach us a thing or two. M. Ali said that it might be possible that after another that in a billion years of evolution, maybe an animal gets developed which has superior intelligence to us humans. One of the starting questions of all this heated discussion came from M. Ali who asked, “What is the use of Astronomy? Is it just a hobby? Or is there greater use of it?” This opened the way to philosophy and religion. Umair defended astronomy and he gave its usefulness and many examples.
Umair said that everything that we see is in the past. Even while talking to someone a meter away, one is looking in the past by a few billionths of a second.
New Ali asked how is distance to stars measured. Umair said that there were many methods for that. One involved parallax, apparent shifting or stars after six months. He said that when Edwin Hubble (in mid 1920s after Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and his Cosmological Constant mistake) announced to the world that some nebulae were way way out of our milky way, it created a gigantic wave in the scientific comunity. The world was stunned literally. Suddenly the Universe became too large and humans too small. Emannuel Kant, philosopher of Germany, actually predicted this, calling them “Island Universes”. All this without ever looking through a telescope or going out of his city. His writing was worth reading he said although some said that philosophy ended with Plato. Umair told of the number of galaxies in the visible universe as seen by the two deep field images by Hubble telescope.
There was also discussion about deduction and ideas. How deduction leads to certain predictions which have a high probability of occuring.
There was talk of society registration and all that was needed was our national ID cards copies , addresses, phone numbers, names. Omer and Umair said that they would take care of this matter.
Umair specially missed presence of Behzad.
O boy. It was all fun. The last discussion was mind bending and exhausting.