Monday, February 1, 2016

Application Open for the Third National Astronomy Olympiad 2016!

We are pleased to announce the Third National Astronomy Olympiad 2016- Nepal that will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2016! Interested students are encouraged to contact us during Monday-Wednesday-Friday between 2:00 PM-5:00 PM to submit their application. If you are from outside of Kathmandu valley and would like to participate in the program, please contact us at 01-4110344 during the office hours as mentioned above.

The deadline for the application is Friday, March 25, 2016! Selected team will participate in the upcoming 10th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics during December 9-19, 2016 to be held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India.

There will be two hour long examination during the examination during the olympiad day.Students will be selected on the basis of their total scores on selection exam (45 multiple choice questions- 90 marks), grades on SLC or equivalent (5 marks) and motivation (5 marks) section of your application form.

How can you be a part of NAO-2016?
  • Collect your NAO-2016 Application Form from our office or collection centers. The application fee for NAO2016 is NR. 1,000 /- 
  • Submit the application form along with your academic certificate and character certificate with the application fee.
  • In case, you apply as the endorsed team from your college/school, your team can submit 6 applications in total NRs 5,000 /- For this registration category, all your team members must be from same college. 
  • Give the entrance exam from the nearby examination centers. The list of centers will be updates in our website.



Syllabus (Entrance exam) 
The syllabus for Entrance exam of National Astronomy Olympiad (NAO) is broadly equivalent to the senior secondary level (up to Class XII) of Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) Nepal. There will be greater emphasis on physics and mathematics and elementary astronomy.
  • Mechanics: Newton’s Laws of Motion; Gravitation; Circular Motion; Rotational Motion; Simple Harmonic Motion
  • Heat and Thermodynamics: Thermodynamic Equilibrium; Ideal Gas; Energy Transfer; Black Body Radiation
  • Nuclear Physics: Atom; Hydrogen Spectrum; Nucleus and Radioactivity; X‐Rays
  • Wave and Optics: Light; Interference, Diffraction, Polarization; Microwave, Infrared, Ultraviolet,
  • Gamma Rays, Visible Wavelength Bands; Optical Instruments; Doppler’s Effect
  • Electricity and Magnetism: Electromagnetic Theory; Magnetic Properties and Behavior
  • The Sun: Solar Structure; Sun‐Earth Relation; Solar Wind and Radiation; Eclipse
  • The Earth: Atmosphere; Longitude and Latitude; Tides; Seasons; Meteor Shower; Aurorae
  • The Solar System: Earth‐Moon System; Planets introduction
  • The Stars: Life Cycle; Neutron Star; Black Hole; Supernova; Constellations
  • Universe: Galaxy; Dark Matter; Hubble’s law
  • Space Exploration: Satellites; Human exploration and missions
  • Mathematics: 3‐D figures (Sphere, Cone, Prism, Cylinder, Cuboid, Cube); 2‐D figures (Triangle, Quadrilateral, Circle) 
Note: Above mentioned sections are as per the syllabus of HSEB, students are encouraged to explore reference materials

The National Astronomy Olympiad Programme is a national educational programme designed by Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) and ESPRO Foundationto encourage Nepalese students who pursue further studies in Physics,Maths,Astronomy & Space Science.

Monday, January 25, 2016

नवौं ग्रह: भ्रम कि वास्तविकता| Ninth Planet: Illusion or Reality!

Dr. Prajwal Kafle
***This blog was originally published at www.nagariknews.com on January 24, 2016 and republished here with due consent from the blogger, Dr. Prajwal Kafle.***

हामीले स्कुल हुँदा 'पृथ्वीसहित सौर्यमण्डलभित्र नौ ग्रह छन्' भनेर पढ्यौं। तर विश्वविद्यालयको अध्ययन सकिन लाग्दा ग्रहको संख्या घटेर आठ बन्यो। अहिले फेरि नौ ग्रहको चर्चा छ।


गत साता अमेरिकी खगोलशास्त्री मैक ब्राउन र कोन्स्तन्तिन व्यतिगिनले सौर्यमण्डलभित्र अर्को ग्रह भएको आधार प्रस्तुत गरेका छन्। उनीहरुले ग्रह भेटेर यस्तो दाबी गरेका होइनन्। उनीहरुको सैद्धान्तिकृत गरेका हुन् तर त्यो अहिलेसम्म वास्तिवक रुपमा पत्ता लागि सकेको भने होइन। यसको मतलब उनको दावीअाधारहीन पनि छैन। ब्राउनकाअनुसार नयाँ ग्रह पृथ्वीभन्दा झण्डै १० गुणा ठूलो हुनुपर्छ। बरुण (Neptune) भन्दा निकै पर भेटिएका केही दर्जन साना पिण्डहरु गति समान छ र उनीहरु सूर्य परिक्रममा गर्दा पनि उही गति र दुरीमा रहेर गर्छन्। जस्तो पृथ्वीलाई परिक्रममा गर्ने चन्द्रमा जुनसुकै स्थानमा पनि त्यसको गति र दूरी अन्य पिण्डहरुसँगका समान हुन्छ। त्यस्तो हुनुमा पृथ्वीको गुरुत्वाकर्षणले काम गरेको हुन्छ। याे ब्राउनको दावीको आधार हो।

दूरी समान हुनुको अर्थ कुनै एउटा विशाल ग्रह साथै हुनुपर्छ भन्ने हो। त्यो अदृश्य विशाल ग्रह नहुने हो भने ती साना पिण्डहरु एकनासको गतिमा हुन सम्भव हुदैन्थ्यो। भौतिकशास्त्रका सुत्रहरु प्रयोग गरेर यस्ता अनुमान (hypothesis) गर्नु र ती अनुमानपछि प्रमाणित हुनु सामान्य प्रक्रिया हो।

अन्य विषयको चर्चा गर्नुअघि त्यसअघि थोरै कुरा ग्रह हो की होइन भनेर कसरी छुट्टाइन्छ त्यसबारेको चर्चा गरौं। रोमन, हिन्दुको शास्त्रमै पनि केही ग्रहहरुको नाम परा पूर्वकालदेखि नै उल्लेख छन्। यताका केही दशक यता जसरी प्रविधि र विज्ञानको विकास हुँदै गयो सौर्यमण्डल र त्यस बाहिर अन्तरिक्षमा अनेकौ नयाँ आविस्कारहरु हुँदै गए, विभिन्न नयाँ बस्तुहरु भेटिदै आए। त्यसपछि त्यसलाई कसरी व्यवस्थित गर्ने भनेर कुरा उठ्न थाल्यो।

सन् २००३मा यम (प्लुटो) भन्दा ठुलो अर्को पिण्ड एरिस (Eris) पत्ता लाग्यो र त्यसपछि यो विषयमा अनेकौ नयाँ खोज तथा अनुसन्धान हुने देखियो। त्यसपछि मात्रै बल्ल कुरा उठ्यो, ग्रह केलाई भन्ने? कसले-कसरी नामकरण गर्ने? हामीले थाहा पाएअनुसार बुध(Mercury), शुक्र(Venus), पृथ्वी(Earth), मंगल(Mars), बृहस्पति(Jupiter), शनि(Saturn), अरुण(Uranus), वरुण(Neptune) र यम(Pluto) भन्दा अलावा पनि ५ बिशाल पिण्डहरु भेटिसकिएका छन्। सानातिना चट्टान त कति हुन कति। सबै फरक फरक नाप, तौल, रंग, प्रकारका भेटिन थालेपछि खगोलशास्त्रीको (astronomer/astrophysicist) छाता संगठन अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय खगोल युनियन International Astronomical Union (IAU)मा वर्गीकरण गर्नुपर्ने कुरो उठ्यो। सन् २००६ कमिटी बन्यो, भोट भयो र अन्तरिक्षमा भेटिएकाहरुको वर्गीकरण हुनथाल्यो। त्यही प्रस्तावअनुसार ग्रह, पुड्का (dwarf) ग्रह र साना पिण्ड भनेर वर्गीकरण गर्न थालियो। युनियनको त्यो प्रस्तावअनुसार ग्रह भनेको– सूर्यलाई केन्द्र मानेर घुम्नु पर्छ, यति बिशाल हुनुपर्छ कि आफ्नै गुरुत्वकार्षणले गोलाकार (वा अन्डाकार, किनभने ग्रह आफै फनफनी घुम्ने हुँदा भूमध्य भागमा भुड़े हुनसक्छ) भैसकेको हुनुपर्छ र उसका छेउ छाउमा सानातिना चट्टानहरु पनि हुनुसक्छ।

त्यहीव्याख्याभित्र नपरेपछि यम (प्लुटो) लाई 'घटुवा' गर्दियो। त्यसपछि सूर्यलाई घुम्ने ग्रहहरुको संख्या ८ मा झर्योट बरुणभन्दा पारतिरका यम, एरिससहित अरु तीन पीण्डलाई पुड्का ग्रह वा ट्रान्स-नेप्टुनियन भनिन थालियो। तर एक शताब्दी अघिसम्म जसले सक्छ उसैले त्यसको नामाकरण गर्दथ्यो। अन्तरिक्षमा जे नयाँ खोज्यो उसैको बाणी सर्वमान्य हुन्थ्यो। तर मैक ब्राउनले येल विश्वविद्यालयका अर्को खोगलशास्त्रीसँग मिलेर एरिस पत्ता लगाएका थिए। उनले येलका एक वैज्ञानिकसँग मिलेर बरुणभन्दा टाढा रहेको एरिस पत्ता लगाए थिए। त्यसपछि अनि ग्रह कस्तोलाई भन्ने बारेमा बहस शुरु भएको थियो ।

ब्राउनले नै हालै बरुण(Neptune) पर हामी भन्दा झन्डै हजार खर्ब किमी टाढा एउटा बिशाल ग्रह हुन सक्ने सैद्धांतिकअनुमान गरेका छन्। त्यही एरिसको कारण यम(प्लुटो)को घटुवाको 'करण' बन्यो। उनको नयाँ खोजले सर्वत्र ध्यान खिच्नुको अर्को कारण त्यो पनि हुनसक्छ, उनले यम (प्लुटो)को प्रतिस्थापन खोजिदिए जस्तो!

जस्तै कि केही समयअघि पत्ता लागेको हिड्स बोसन (Higgs boson) जसलाई गड पार्टिकल्स (god particle) पनि भनेर भनियो, त्यसको खोज ४० वर्षदेखि हुँदै थियो। अर्का सशक्त उदाहरण महान बैज्ञानिक अल्बर्ट आइन्टाइन आफै पनि हुन् जसले १०० वर्ष अघि गरेका विभिन्न अनुमानहरु विभिन्न समयमा प्रमाणित हुँदै गए। अर्कोतर्फ भौतिकशास्त्रमा आजको दिनमा सबैभन्दा अत्याधिक खोजिएको बस्तु डार्क म्याटर(dark matter) हो। जसको खोजमा हजारौ विश्वविद्यालयका लाखौं बैज्ञानिक डटेर लागि परेका छन्। त्यो नयाँ ग्रह भेट्न भने त्यति सजिलो हुने छैन। मुख्यत, हाम्रो र उसको दुरीले गर्दा उसलाई देख्नु भनेको मोटामोटी चन्द्रमामा राखेको पानसको बत्ति पृथ्वीबाट नाङ्गो आँखाले देखे जस्तो हो!

अन्त्यमा, मंगल ग्रहमा पानी भएको तथ्य, बृहस्पतिमा धेरै अघि बिशाल ग्रह खसेको कुरा जसरी निरन्तर परीक्षण र अनुशन्धान बाट पत्ता लागेको हो, यो नयाँ ग्रहको थप अनुशन्धान बाट अझै रहस्य उद्घाटन हुँदै जाला। जाँदा जाँदै के थप्न चाहन्छु भने नासा (NASA)को केप्लर (Kepler) दुरबिनले सुर्य बाहेकका अन्य ताराहरुमा पनि ग्रहहरु भेटी सकेका छन् र तिनमा पानी र पानी भएपछि कुनै प्रकारको जीव पनि हुनसक्ने संकेतहरु भेटिएका छन्। अरु धेरै यस्ता नयाँ खोजहरु अरु छन् । त्यसैले बिट मार्नुअघि प्रसिद्ध अमेरिकी खगोलशास्त्री कार्ल सागनको यो भनाइ अझै पनि उत्तिनै सान्दर्भिग लाग्छ: ब्रहमाण्डमा अझै पनि कतै केही आश्चर्यजनक विषय थाहा लाग्नका लागि बाँकी छ ।
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Saturday, January 23, 2016

One Day Workshop for Asteroid Search Campaign 2016!

Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) organized a one day workshop for the selected five teams who will be participating in the upcoming Pan-STARRS Asteroid Search Campaign which is going to be held during February 1-March 7, 2016. Students from 76 schools of 26 countries including Nepal are participating in the search campaign. Pan-STARRS an abbreviation of Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System.

Asteroid Search Campaign is an online student-based discovery program in astronomy officially introduced in Nepal by Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) in partnership with International Asteroid Search Campaign (IASC) , USA. The program was initially introduced for university students in 2012 and officially introduced for high school students in Nepal since 2016. The program has been introduced in order to foster research culture among Nepalese students from the school level system. As a part of program, five selected teams will participate to each time to different campaigns of IASC. We are currently working on the campaign infrastructure and likely to select more than five teams per campaign starting from 2017.

The workshop was organized in order to familiarized students and teachers of each participating shools about the program and also their roles and responsibilities as a part of global campaign. Suresh Bhattarai, Chairman at NASO introduced the program and demostrated the processes that each team will be going through the campaign. A practise sessions was conducted in order to provide all the teams hands-on experience with the software: Astrometrica which will be used for the search campaign and the process on how to identify the true and false signatures of the asteroids from the images provided to them during the campaign. Hands-on session was moderated by Kishor Acharya and Karan Batta from NASO.

Mr. Suresh Bhattarai. Chairman at NASO introducing the program to participanting school teams.
Image sets are provided by the Institute for Astronomy(IfA) at the University of Hawaii. Given clear and dark skies, the IfA uses the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS telescope located on Haleakala to take images along the ecliptic.Image sets are provided during the 2-week time period starting with the Moon’s 3rd Quarter and ending with the 1st Quarter.  The teams receive these image sets and use the program Astrometrica to search for and measure asteroids.  A report is prepared and sent to IASC which will be reviewed by the IASC Data Reduction Team (IDaRT) for possible discoveries. Discoveries are reported to the Minor Planet Center (Harvard)The teams have until the next 3rd Quarter to complete their analysis and sending their reports to IASC for review and validation.

Participants were the teachers and students from the following five schools of Kathmandu valley:
  1. Ankur Vidyashram, Battishputali
  2. Eureka High School, Nepaltar
  3. Ganesh English Boarding School, Tokha
  4. The Celebration Co-Ed, Jorpati
  5. The insight Vision Higher Secondary School, Dhumbarahi

Participants during the group photo after the workshop held at Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO)

During the campaign, students will make original discoveries of Main Belt asteroids and observations of NEOs that are reported to the Minor Planet Center (Harvard).  The NEO observations are recorded as part of the NASA Near-Earth Object Program (Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

We wish all the five teams from Nepal for happy hunting during the campaign!