Saturday, 2 October 2010

Under the sky and above it...

"Roll on, ye stars! exult in youthful prime,
Mark with bright curves the printless steps of time...
Flowers of the sky! ye too to age must yield,
Frail as your silken sisters of the field."
-- Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of the naturalist Charles Darwin)

Last week, I had gone to London with Kiran. He had some exams held in imperial college London in South Kensington. As we had a couple of hours before boarding the train, we thought to have a look around if anythings nearby. Hence, we got into the Science museum which is almost next to the South Kensington tube station exit. Entry is free, only one need to pay for IMAX 3D cinema(can have 2 for 1 offer if travelling to London by train)

Science museum is one of the very exciting places to visit, especially if interested in science. It has fabulous collections of renowned inventions and discoveries. The galleries are very impressive. As we didn’t have much time we just booked the IMAX – HUBBLE 3D.
Amazing, Hubble 3D film was really spectacular. Initially the 3D was quite irksome with flashy pictures so close to the eyes. But once the exact show started, I really started enjoying it. Starting from launching of the Hubble space telescope in 1990 to the servicing missions to the stupendous photos which were taken by the Hubble, its role in expanding the knowledge about the universe, all of it was splendid.

The film mainly concentrated on the servicing mission probably the one in 2008, don’t remember exactly. But it was definitely after the Columbia Disater in 2003 where our Indian born American girl, Kalpana Chawla succumbed in the mission. Narrated by Leonardo de caprio, if not wrong. The anticipation and apprehension of the crew members whilst last minute preparation for flying, the actual take off of the space shuttle, routine inside the shuttle, the big day to meet Hubble, repairing the parts of Hubble, problems and solutions, ultimately the success of the mission in 3D was marvellous. Later there was an introduction sort of the thing into the universe. Starting from our earth, the sun and its planets, , the nearest star, Sirius Major, the Orion and its stars and nebula, origin of new stars and budding solar systems in the nebulae, our milky way, Andromeda, millions of galaxies, and the likes, it takes you through a rollercoaster ride.

Memories came flooding in, good old memories. I wonder how I started liking Astronomy. Was it while I use to sing Twinkle twinkle little star when I was very young, or when I used to spend the nights staring at the millions of stars in the clear sky, or was it when astronomy became part of my studies in high school? Somehow I have always liked astronomy and astrophysics, the latter the less (physics is not my cup of tea though).

Whenever I think of sky and stars, the only person who comes to my mind is Simhadri sir, the person I adore the most. He has a very significant part in improving my knowledge and enhancing my interest in the same. To your surprise, I don’t know what he used to work as. He was husband of Ushadevi miss, who used to teach science in my high school. He used to come to school sometimes to see his wife or pick her up. We, students, used to pester him to take class for us (Hard time getting the classes, which were supposed to take place, cancelled). But he was always ready to teach us what he knows, great inspirer as well. He thought us about the planets, the stars, how to look for them in the sky, when to look, how to recognize. I learnt to identify the Orion constellation with its stars (Regel, Betelguese,etc), Sirius Major and Minor, Ursa Major constellation, the planets like Venus and Mars. They are all my friends now and I do talk to them (Nope, I haven’t lost my mind or have I?). I have great pleasure in showing them to others.

My school also has some role to play. They have taken me to Nehru Planetorium about 4-5 times, to Sir M Vishveshwaraiah museum a couple of times, both in Bangalore( doesn’t mean that I remember much). They had organised sky viewing in school with the help of Nehru planetarium staff. They had mounted a telescope in the terrace of school and we had looked through it the planets like venus, mars, Jupiter with 4 galilean satellites and Saturn, nice experience.

But all the interest started fading when I finished my schooling, as the sources of input were blocked. Though, I read from Britannica encyclopaedias in library during 1st PU, dropped everything when I started 2 PU, succumbing to tight schedule of classes, tuitions and studies. Still wonder why I didn’t take up a career in Astro.. 

Ok guys, Coming back to reality, IMAX was the only thing we could see in detail. The time passed by and we had to leave the science museum. It takes at least a day to completely explore the museum. Anyways I am planning to go back again when possible.

Sorry for writing such a lengthy blog. Here are some photos which I like..

Shuttle mission STS-31 lifts off, carrying Hubble into orbit.

Hubble Space Telescope

Our family- The Solar System

Moon at its work

My favorite planet Venus- image from Mariner 10

Venus Volcanic Domes

Here is the Sojourner rover from Mars Pathfinder, testing its wheels on the surface

One of the 4 Galilean satellites- IO

One of the 4 Galilean satellites- Ganymede

One of the 4 Galilean satellites- Europa

Surface of Europa- Artists imagination

One of the 4 Galilean satellites- Callisto

Surface of Callisto

 Black Hole left after Supernova explosion emitting pulsar

Supernova- White dwarf accreting matter from its companion before explosion

Pinwheel galaxy

Ring Galaxy

Our own nest- The Milky Way

Our neighbor- Andromeda

Orion Constellation

Orion Nebula

Horsehead Nebula- easiest one

Nebulae- Birth place of stars

Hourglass Nebula

Cats paw Nebula

Butterfly Nebula- most beautiful one

One of Hubble's most famous images, pillars of Eagle Nebula

Hubble Space Telescope image of N90 star forming region in the Small Magellanic Cloud


Millions of Galaxies- in the eye of hubble
 - S
"For a breeze of morning moves,
         And the planet of love is on high,
Beginning to faint in the light that she loves
         On a bed of daffodil sky,
To faint in the light of the sun she loves,
         To faint in his light, and to die."
-- Tennyson, "Maud"

P S: Thanks to google for the images and to all the people behind it