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Write: Gökçen Ata - Photo: Ahmet Bilal Arslan
THE STAR OFAMATEURS IS RISING
From amateurs who have become experts to those who are just curious; from students to teachers of astrology; those coming from Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Ankara and Kayseri; those who know one another and those who do not -- all are asking the same question: What will we see in the sky tonight?
Five years ago my curiosity about space observation which had remained from my childhood re-emerged and I bought my first telescope. I tried to watch things with this telescope from my home balcony or from places I went. Meanwhile I began to gain knowledge of astronomy, but I what I had in mind was to observe the sky in the most suitable place with those who know this subject well and with strong telescopes.
This time when the date and place of the observation festivities organized by gokbilim.com was agreeable with me, I did not miss the opportunity. This group organizes free programs open to everyone who covers his own expenses.
We met in Mustafa Kemal Paşa in Bursa on June 12th for the festivities which would be held in Tırnova, known as one of the best places in Turkey after Antalya for good observation. From amateurs who have become experts to those who are just curious; from students to teachers of astrology; those coming from Istanbul, Izmir, Bursa, Ankara and Kayseri; those who know one another and those who do not -- all were asking the same question: What will we see in the sky tonight?
After a warm meeting we reached our 750 meter-high point of observation. Unfortunately my telescope which had stood in the middle of our house more magnificently than the Egyptian pyramids was removed from home as a result of my wife’s objections and I had come here with a small, inadequate telescope. However, the equipment group members had brought made up for this. At any rate, you do not have to have a telescope to join these observations. Members share their binoculars, telescope and remaining accessories with those who do not have any equipment. About fifteen telescopes had been brought; Uğur İkizler presented his 8-inch telescope and Burak Yakut his 10-inch telescope to the service of the curious. Sufficiently large, these two telescopes gave a close to 100-person group the opportunity from time to time to see the captivating beauty of deep space.
I saw the sun!
Towards sunset examining the sun and its eight spots with a telescope with a solar filter was a pleasurable experience for us. With the onset of nightfall and Venus’ reaching a radiance that could be observed, we saw the first prince of darkness. Then Saturn appeared. On the night of June 12th it was a great pleasure to take full advantage of this rare opportunity –even if it tired our eyes- to see many magnificently beautiful formations and heavenly bodies in the sky like the Sombrero Galaxy, the Eagle, Hoag’s Object, and Andromeda galaxies, the Swan, Lagoon and Dumbbell nebulae, the Veil Nebula and the Hercules and Wild Duck star clusters. Especially the Milky Way… This blue path with its edge extending to infinity was brighter and more distinct than I had ever seen. For a long time we watched it with the naked eye and tried to look into its depths with a telescope.
Our lesson is astronomy
There are some forum members whose knowledge has reached the level of expertise. As long as there is no obstacle, they attend every event. They are trying to increase interest in astronomy and the interest of its followers by means of both the web site and the addition to knowledge they make during observation. At the beginning of this observation which was dedicated to Hasip Sönmezalp, the first amateur in Turkey to make his own telescope, Uğur İkizler set up the projector and explained basic astronomical knowledge and equipment to participants and showed photographs of deep space objects. Throughout the observation amateur astronomer Onur Atılgan and astronomy graduate Pelin Öztürk showed the position of the heavenly bodies we followed by means of the pointing lasers in their hands and gave information about their characteristics. As you might guess, this event turned into a pleasurable lesson.
Bursa is waiting for star hunters
Tırnova is a candidate as one of the best places in Turkey for amateur observation. It is close enough to Mustafa Kemal Paşa to facilitate the logistics of participants, but far enough away not to be affected by the light pollution of the district. Actually, the sky here is crowded, rich and beautiful enough to be observed for hours by the naked eye. Teacher and amateur astronomer Eftal Çakır has applied to the District Administration Council to provide certain possibilities for developing Tirnova into an observation area. Who knows, perhaps Tirnova with its transportation advantages, suitable location and magnificent sky can become one of Turkey’s major observation areas for amateurs.
Rocks will rain on our heads
On the nights of August 12-13th there will be a Perseid meteor shower. The route which was turned into a field of waste by the debris left behind by the Swift-Tuttle comet will intersect the Earth’s orbit. With the entrance of this debris into the atmosphere, hundreds of stars will fall throughout the night. Groups formed by universities and amateurs have long since rolled up their sleeves. You can find a group to observe the meteor shower together with the other heavenly bodies at Tırnova or in a spot close to your province. Put the nights of August 12th and 13th on your calendar now and, if the weather is good, do not miss the meteor shower.