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Sky Photo Trip

of September 2010

Majkhali, Ranikhet


Review of the Sky Photo Trip by Himanshu Rastogi,

Amateur Astronomer


I had attended the Sky Photo Trip in Sept 2010, when it was conducted for the first time. While the weather conditions weren’t very favourable at that time, but the image processing and equipment handling sessions with Ajay Talwar were incredible. There was a lot to learn from those sessions.

Ajay brought a lot of his personal experiences in these sessions. Small details like hanging some weight under a tripod to make it stable and ensure images are not impacted by ground vibrations are some examples that are not evident on the field while clicking photographs but only come to light when you are processing them later.

I remember, the enthusiasm and excitement from the day time sessions, was so much amongst all participants that each one of us was awake the entire night to get even the slightest of opportunities to click photographs. And when it happened around mid-night of the second night we were all charged up, there are no words that I have to describe the excitement at that time. One group was busy clicking photographs of Jupiter; I was on another station clicking the Andromeda Galaxy and another set of participants were busy with their camera and tripods clicking star trails.

The choice of location and equipments available for photography are such that every participant had something to look out for the entire night. In fact the ones using just the camera and tripod had an opportunity to experiment also with their location.

I am certainly planning to go again for this trip and if you are really interested in Astrophotography, I would suggest that you should not lose this opportunity.



Sky Photo Trip was an excellent endevour to set the bar very high for Indian astrophotographers and go beyond the basics of astrophotography. There is simply a LOT that goes behind taking inspiring and world class astrophotos - from meticulous detailing, extensive instrumentation and procedures, hours of post processing, to decades of experience - Ajay Talwar shared everything unreservedly and enthusiastically with all the participants. It was a great opportunity to be at a scenic dark sky location, with tons of high quality equipment and expert guidance. It was great to be with passionate bunch of people from all over India (and one of them all the way from Duabi).



Sky Photo Trip

of September 2010


Brief Review

by Vikrant Narang,

Scientific Officer,


Excerpts from a blog written by

Mr. Dinesh Nisang,

Science Communicator


Overall this Sky Photo Trip was a grand success in spite of bad weather.

            This all was an awesome experience which will dwell for long time in my mind. This is the first ever astrophotography workshop organized in India.

            I am sure that all participants will be agree with me that arrangement, management, literature, instruments at Sky Photo Trip were beyond everyone’s expectations. When we all arrived at Ranikhet; weather was not looking in favor of us. But clouds can only take away photography possibilities, not our patience & zeal from us that we all believed. Ajay told astrophotography has 2 important parts a) Photography b) Image processing & each one is more important than other.

            Woodvilla hotel, really we all were on cloud 9. Second day started with a stunning view from room window as clouds settled down & somebody shouted “look at the Trishul”. Wooow!!!!!!! Himalayan Glaciers were peeping through white clouds, firstly it was a bit hard for me to spot out them but once I recognized them, it was awe-inspiring moment. Ajay,Vikrant & Pratik managed to keep conference room atmosphere on HOT pixels. Noise discussion is still echoing in my mind. By the evening I determined to join Vikrant on Atlas mount & not to even glance at LX200 8” & 12”. Later I understood how fruitful this decision was. At least for 3 times we aligned Atlas mount. Polar scope, 3 star alignment, drift alignment, connecting scope-camera on starry night everything was great along with Sneh & Vikrant.

            Image processing is really a soul of the astrophotography & Ajay is the master of it. Ajay showed us some excellent techniques to process an image. To be honest with you all I think in the image processing session I understood a little bit & I am sure to make command on image processing practice is must. Ajay has experience of more than 15 years in astrophotography & he tried to pour all his practices in these 3 day workshop. Now I am very much energized, geared & waiting for dark, clear skies. Accommodation, food was at its best.

It was quite a fitting first light ceremony for the prototypes of the three Aperture Telescopes at the Milky Way Voyage - the first ever National Star Party in India. Milky Way Voyage was held at the ARIES observatory, Manora Peak, Nainital on 7-9 April 2008, at an height of 1951 metres. The skies were absolutely clear for the three nights at Aries Nainital. Several seasoned amateur astronomers and many a newcomers to astronomy were present at the Milky Way Voyage. Three Aperture Telescopes (12", 16", 20") were available for use by all the amateurs. And the three telescopes were used extensively, there was not a single moment when these telescopes were left unattended or unused. From evening twilight to morning twilight observers queued up behind the telescope not just to observe the deep sky objects, but also to search for new ones armed with star charts big and small. Amateurs ranging from school going 12 year olds to seasoned veterans used the big three telescopes to their heart's content. The fact the the telescopes were not left alone even for a moment, is testimony enough for the quality of these telescopes. The telescope optics as well as the mount's buttery motion, ease of use, were all appreciated by all the amateurs present. ARIES observatory staff including Director Dr. Ram Sagar were impressed by the size of these telescope as well as the profilic use of these telescopes by amateurs.




Milky Way Voyage,

7th - 9th March 2008,

ARIES- Nainital


Messier Marathon,

13th March 2010,

Majkhali, Ranikhet

Messier Marathon 2010. Saturday, 13th March 2010 the Messier Marathon at Majhkhali was conducted using the 20 inch Aperture Telescope. While pointing above 45° the huge telescope requires a ladder, but that is no deterrant for finding the messier objects using the Telrad finder. In fact finding objects is simple and intutive, finishing the Messier Marathon is a breeze. The motion of the telescope is smooth, following a messier object as it moves in the sky is very easy even from the top of the ladder. Vishnu Rethinam, a long time Messier Marathon runner used the 20 inch Aperture Telescope exclusively to run the marathon this year.