Leaving Our Cradle - Part 1

“The earth is the cradle of humankind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever." - Tsiolkovsky
Leaving Our Cradle
Part - 1
- Vikram S.Virulkar.

For some of you, these words might have brought back a dim a memory of a famous quote by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky the Russian Pioneer who was instrumental in many ways for modern rockets and what he really said was, “The earth is the cradle of humankind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever." He compared our planet to an enormous cradle; I cannot help but term these words as Visionary. I feel compelled to agree with him.

To some, the meaning of these words is purely metaphorical but to others it is a picture of untainted reality, and it is ,perhaps in accepting this very truth, are we filled with a courage, that inspires us to leave the very cradle we were born in and walk on our two feet as human beings.

We cannot turn a blind eye to what lies in front of us as a species, we will one day leave this planet behind and roam the Cosmos, It is our destiny, if we don’t destroy ourselves first. This series takes a look at some of those attempts by us to leave that cradle, both as a race encompassing all mankind  and as a country ravaged by its  own problems, but chose to look up to the heavens.

Video on Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

Magic of Glass - Part 5

Magic of Glass
Part - 5

The most critical part of buying a telescope isn't how much it costs or what kind of telescope it is, far more important is knowing which one you need and where are you going to use it.

But before we plunge into that, let me clear things up with a practical example

I own a 6 inch Celestron Nexstar series fully go-to SCT (Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope), do I like it? Of-course I do, but for a completely different reason. The nature of my work demands a lot of frequent traveling to various parts of the country. I hold Astronomy Workshops in Schools and Colleges where I typically have a audience of 100-135 curious students. These students are eventually introduced to the heavens. The tracking option of my telescope makes it easier for me, I can concentrate on interacting with the Students  rather than giving any thought to re-adjusting the telescope , plus the SCT saves me valuable space, weight and money(If you fly often , a large and ultimately heavy scope would be very costly to transport). When I start my observing sessions, I can set-up in 7-10 minutes, identify a planet and activate the tracking, the only time I would go back to the telescope is when it requires a change of target.(or more often when someone accidentally bumps the telescope, requiring a re-align).

authors telescope

If I was not doing the work I do, would I buy the same telescope? Absolutely not, for the price I bought my SCT (around 1.30 lakhs at he time), I could have bought a Reflector more than double its size and still have money to spare for accessories. So everything depends upon your use and how you can efficiently manage your telescope time

magic of glass - part -4

The Magic of Glass
Part - 4

Dear Readers, we have, up till now seen the two major forces in the telescope market, Refractors- for their impeccable optical quality Reflectors- for their sizes and comparative reduction in price. But there is a third and more practical (but a little more expensive) option available in the market and for those of you who are guessing, the third option is the Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) and the Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope (MCT) these types are also called the catadioptric telescopes . The two types are famed for their optical quality and unmatched portability. The Two telescopes work on a folded light pattern, This is easier to explain with the diagram provided.

The SCT is in many ways a revolution in the field of amateur astronomy. However these technological marvels are quite basically a reflecting telescope but its easier said than done, the telescopes collect light just like any other mirror and then it is reflected to the secondary mirror which is attached to a corrector plate but this is where the beauty of the design comes into play, the light is not directed sideways, but back towards the mirror to a carefully placed opening in the middle, where the eyepiece lens is attached, this is called the visual back of the telescope. This innovation increases the focal length of the telescope and allows us to use a larger lens with a seemingly small tube. Astronomers around the worlds can use this design thanks to the efforts of James Baker, who invented this telescope working on a model of Bernard Schmidt’s original Schmidt Camera.


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