Observe the night sky and you will be amazed at the activity.

Every night the sky comes alive with a million twinkling stars and bright planets. These are reminders of other celestial objects out there. “When asteroids or comets pass through the earth's orbit they leave debris which burns up and appears as meteors,” says N. Sri Raghunandan Kumar, director and founder Planetary Society of India.

Big and bright

“Most events are visible to the naked eye. If you look at the night sky after dinner you can see a big bright dot. It is Jupiter shining just above your head. The planet will be visible till June end. The other planets to watch out for, are Mars and Saturn. Venus is visible till the year end. Planets appear as bright objects and they don’t twinkle. They reflect light from the sun. Also, Mars may not appear red. It depends on the place of viewing and pollution levels in the atmosphere. However if one can see through the telescope one can appreciate the ice caps of Mars,” says Raghunandan. The best time to observing the sky is when there is no moon or on new moon nights and before sunrise, he suggests.

“It is important that the students are well versed with the theoretical aspects. A moderate telescope should do to begin with,” Dr. J. J. Rawal, former Director, Nehru Planetarium Mumbai and founder president Indian Planetary Society.

Solar System at a Glance, Our Place in the Universe, Indian Astronomy: Ancient to Modern and Life, and Work of Galileo

Calendar of events

Eta Aquarids Meteor Showers: These are caused by flakes of dust left over by Comet Halley, Visible from April 19 - May 28.

Perseids Meteor Shower (Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle): Each year in July/August, the Earth passes through a cloud of this comet’s debris — bits of ice and dust over 1,000 years old — that burn up in the Earth's atmosphere to create one of the best meteor showers of the year. Watch it on July 17.

Geminids: Popular annual meteor showers that have its origin from Asteroid 3200 Phaethon. Visible from December 4-17.

Mars will be brightest and closest to earth on April 9, at 92.39 million km.

Saturn will be directly opposite the sun and closest to earth at 8.900 AU (approx. 1331 million km) on May 10. It will remain to shine bright till June 4.The next opposition would be on May 23, 2015. One can view the Saturn rings if seen through a telescope.

There is no Solar Eclipse in 2014. The Lunar Eclipse on April 15 occurs during the day and on October 8 only a few places across the country will be able to observe it.

Courtesy Planetary Society of India

Interested?

- Get started with a scrap book on astronomy.

- Some tips to get you started:

- You could begin by making a note of all the major astronomical events that have taken place.

- Explain black holes, blue stars, supernovas, sunspots and so on. Accompany these with illustrations done by you.

- Did you know about Earth’s only satellite? Find out more.

- Illustrate a step by step process of a lunar and solar eclipse.

- The Hubble Telescope has produced some interesting images. Find these images for your scrapbook.

- Check out magazines and newspapers to see what interesting information you can gather and put it into your book. This can include astronomy cartoons and drawings too.