Banners were set up in Lahore: “One Sun, One Earth, No Borders!” Hassaan Ghazali and Umair Asim in cooperation with two other astronomers mounted three telescopes in the Lahore Planetarium. Planetarium visitors and the public were treated to fantastic views of the planet Saturn and the Moon. People were also mesmerized by views of craters on the Earth's Moon and the seas of solidified lava which are not discernible to the unaided eye. Also with a green laser pointer StarPeace Lahore pointed at the constellations in the sky and explained them to the public. Umair said: “People were very interested to see ‘their’ stars.”
“People coming out from the planetarium show were heading straight for our telescopes. Wave after wave we served more than 300 people. There were children in the arms of their parents commenting “I see a ball and a line (ring)” and then there were those old people who said, “I never thought I would ever see a planet in my life, thank you for showing me, at least once.” ” Umair told.
Also children from Lahore SOS village joined them at the program. They were thrilled to see planets and various craters of the moon.
During the event, Hassaan Ghazali from the Society of the Sun led the exchange of greetings with counterpart astronomers over the phone. “A message of peace from a group of enthusiastic children from SOS children's villages was relayed to them. The message was three simple words uttered by every Pakistani, every day--"We Want Peace!"” Hassaan told.
Report by Khalid Marwat
We gathered in Falcon Complex, Malir Cantt, Karachi soon after sunset on 1st May, Friday.
There were three telescopes (8" Meade SCT, 4" Japanese Bino Telescope by Vixen and 3" Adventurer) and some binoculars. The sky, as usual, was light polluted with Karachi lights in the west but we had made arragements for lights to be off at the venue. Additionally, we had covered the area in cricular fashion to block the street lights. On the average dark adaptation was not very good. So observation was restricted to bright objects only.
Sky was clear and seeing was good.
We had no internet connection.
In the middle of the observations we had two presentations on power point;
'Lunar phases' by Marim Gul (age 11 years). Her presentation was appreciated a lot by audience.
'Tonight's Sky' by Mohsin (age 28 years), He talked about the objects visible and their astronomical details.
The question answer session was excellent and very participative.
Many volunteers are ready to present new themes for the next time when we meet.
Most viewed item was Saturn, followed by the Moon. M13, the globular and M57, the Ring Nebula were liked by the late observers. Multiple star (Mizar and Alcor) were appreciated by many. It indeed opened their understanding of additional concepts about stars.
Many liked the connection of astrology with astronomy. People with Leo as their astrology star liked to see Leo and appreciated the presence of Saturn in their constellation.
People came in groups, mostly as family units; children, ladies, and all ages.
Telescopes were handled and managed by volunteers who learnt to handle them the very night.
Enthusiasm was excellent. Theme of 'The Universe yours to discover' is an apt idea to promote the idea.
Talked with Hassaan Ghazali from Lahore while we were in the midst of the presentation and with Irene and Kazem from a place near Pak Iran border, on cell number 03233820374 and received the core message of StarPeace which was very imaginative, thought provoking and overwhelmingly wonderful.
The observation lasted till 0200 am (Saturday) local which corresponds to 2000 UT (Friday)
The observation on first night of Friday was liked so much by the public that it was continued for the next Saturday evening too.
It was a repeat of the show but the visitors this time were from farther localities that came to know about the star party. There were no presentations. The telescopes were reduced to 2 only (Meade and Vixen)
Total observers were about 600; First night 250, second 350. Security situation in Karachi made the number much lesser. It was easy for people from nearer localities to come and indeed only these people could make it.
We have resolved to continue with more gatherings in this IYA. Some suggested themes are;
'Why Pluto is no longer a planet'
'Meteors, the shooting stars and their origin'
Some people took pictures of the moon in the A-focal mechanism with their cell phone digital cameras. I have taken pictures of the observers looking through the eye pieces. Many young observers were interested in the 'first telescope view' certificates.