Observing with Khagol Mandal, Neral, India, February 2017

We've been in Mumbai for about 18 months. One of the reasons we ended up here is that India has an active astronomy scene, from spacecraft run by Isro (the Indian Space Research Organization), to the highest permanent telescope in the world (the 2.1-meter Himalayan Chandra Telescope at 14,500'), to involvement with huge international projects such as the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) and TMT (30 Meter Telescope).

But in scoping out the astronomy scene before we got here, I came across the web page of an amateur astronomy group, Khagol Mandal ('Cosmos Club', in the local Marathi). Their Indian form of 'star party' looked incredible, down to the very detailed instructions of which trains to take, and a minute-by-minute observation plan including midnight dinner and 3 AM tea break. Up until now, I hadn't crossed paths with them. But as luck had it, they invited me to give a talk, and one of my colleagues was taking her Astrobiology class there for the night, so I headed out to their dark-sky site about two hours outside of Mumbai for their all-night star party.

The program for the night included two night-sky tours, a few seminars, and many hours of dark-sky observing. The club schedules these about 8 times a year -- monthly except for monsoon season. The main purpose of these events is educational outreach -- showing the skies to Mumbaikers who wouldn't get a chance to otherwise. There are members of the public, some club members and enthusiasts, and a lot of students.

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Henry Throop

Last modified 12 Jul 2019