Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Astronomy Pictures from Pakistan: Orion from an observatory in Karachi

by Salman Hameed

I have previously highlighted astronomy photographs from Lahore and Lahore Astronomical Society (LAST). But Karachi has a thriving astronomy scene as well and Karachi Amateur Astronomers Society has been arranging stargazing sessions quite regularly. One of the highlights of their activities is an observatory - KaAStrodome Urban Observatory - that houses an impressive homebuilt 12.5 inch Newtonian telescope. Here is a picture of a star forming region, Orion nebula, from the telescope:

For those unfamiliar with Orion nebula, it is basically a stellar nursery about 1300 light years from Earth (relatively close). The label, HH 204 in the picture, points to a Herbig-Haro object. These HH objects are indicators of places where jets from young stars (yes, very young stars are often surrounded by a disk that accretes material and some of this escapes in the form of high speed jets) hit the surrounding gases. 

From Muhammad Akbarovic Hussainov:
[T]his telescope is constructed by a pathologist, Major Ashraf in Pakistan Army who is not even an engineer. It is housed in the first private dome observatory in Pakistan, The KaAStrodome, designed by myself and constructed by me and my brother Mehdi who is also the president of Karachi Astronomers Society. This picture reveals the power of a medium sized telescope from light polluted skies of a metropolis to reveal the fine details of a nebula, if skillfully designed and constructed. 
And here is a picture of the dome, with Orion in the background: 

The dome looks great and Orion is always majestic. I'm pretty sure that I saw this very view of Orion a million time when I was growing up in Karachi. It is wonderful to see that astronomy is flourishing in Karachi.
If you are interested in learning about Herbig-Haro objects and jets around young stars, watch this 4-minute video (if you are in Pakistan, you will have to unnecessarily use a YouTube proxy): 


Umair Asim said...

Great image! This observatory will be a big milestone for spreading Astronomy in Karachi and beyond. Congratulations to all those who thought of the idea and made it happen. Someday i will visit this place! Best wishes!

Muhammad Akbar Hussain said...

Thank you Dr Salman for your immense support for Pakistani astronomy (I sometimes regret my facebook 'russian' alias, but it keeps the past 'nuisances' from searching me on social media, so still ok). You are most welcome to visit the observatory on your next visit to Pak and advise us on further improvement with your experience and knowledge. We never realized that we would be able to do deep sky study from the light and dust polluted skies of Karachi. We initially underlined the scope of this observatory as being limited to planetary and lunar observations only. So bad sky is not an excuse anymore :-)

Abubaker Shekhani said...

How do I submit my photo?

Salman Hameed said...

Thanks Akbar - will definitely visit the observatory when I visit Karachi.

Abubaker: You can email the link or send the picture directly. My email is on the blog page to the right...or you can find me on the Hampshire College website. Thanks!

Roshaan said...

I absolutely like HH objects! In fact, this image from KAAS (Karachi Amateur Astronomers Society) was one of the firsts I recieved from Mohammad Akbar Hussain to tell me about HH objects within the orion nebula!

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