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Here is an article about Stellarium, that appeared on today’s issue of Kannada daily Samyukta Karnataka (9/27/2012). Click on the image for a enlarged view. My article is at the bottom of the page:

If the full page view is hard to read, you may choose to click on the following  image, for a better resolution, but without the graphical elements:

(I wrote this article last year for ಅರಿವಿನ ಅಲೆಗಳು by Sanchaya).

By the way, I did not even notice another year has gone by for my blog. Surely, this has been the most inactive year for me on ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ!

By now, every kid on the internet and his or her baby-sitter know that the transit of Venus is a once-in-a-lifetime, twice-in-a-lifetime, or never-in-a-lifetime event. So, I am not going to dwell on that aspect of the transit!

In 2004, when the Venus transited the Sun, I was in the wrong part of the Earth .

Did you ask what do I mean by being “on the wrong part of the Earth”? You see, the transit is an event seen when the Sun is over the horizon. So if the planet were to go in front of the Sun during the night-time, hard luck. Just like a solar eclipse.

Transit 2004 Visibility Map from Wikipedia:

Luckily, I was in the right part of the Earth in 2012, so I did not want to miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

Transit 2012 Visibility Map from Wikipedia:

Adding to my luck, I was invited by a friend to watch the eclipse from his backyard telescope.  Since Venus is so small compared to the Sun, the transit of Venus is better appreciated with an optical aid.

And here is the fantastic view through the 9-inch telescope – captured on my mobile phone.

We also looked through a welder’s glass, and it looked cool too. But  could not take a picture through that. By the way, did you notice the sunspots  in the picture above ? Compare them to Venus, which is about 12000 miles in diameter – and the enormous size of the Sun spots does strike you!

Yugaadi marks the beginning of the traditional lunar new year celebrated in several states of India such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Literally, Yugaadi means Adi – “the beginning of” and  yuga – “an era”.  As per current understanding, a yuga  is a measure of time, associated the term with long periods – as in Krta, Treta, Dwapara & Kali yugas,  each spanning thousands of years.

However, if we go back in time for about thirty five centuries, we find Indians had a very different interpretation of the term yuga. Vedanga Jyothisha  compiled by Laagadha  around ~1400BC very clearly defines a yuga as a period of five years. The very opening verse of Vedanga Jyotisha has the following verse:

pa~ncha saMvatsaramayam yughAdhyakSham prajApatim |

dinartvayana mAsAngaM praNamya shirasA shuchih ||

which approximately translated to the following:

“I bow to thee, Oh Prajapati, one who has the day, season and the half-year as limbs,   the over-seer of the five-year long yuga”

Vedanga Jyotisha also tells us when the five-year yuga began based on the alignment of the Sun, Moon and stars (specifically both meeting at the star Shravishta) in the sky.  Also, according to the text, five years of a yuga were called samvatsara, parivatsara, idaavatsara, anuvatsara and idvatsara. Incidentally, this beginning of a new yuga took place at winter solstice, and not at (or close to) Vernal equinox as the current yugaadi is.

Things change over time. Now, we call every year a samvatsara, and the five-year long yuga is almost unknown to most people! If you are more interested on this topic, I suggest you to read this paper by B.N.Narahari Achar is a good resource.

Wishing a very happy Yugaadi to all visitors at ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ!


Ever wondered what would you  see on a Full Moon day, if you were on the Moon?

Answer: It depends.

It depends on where you are standing on the Moon.  If you are on the far side of the Moon that is always turned away from the Earth, then you would be standing in the lunar night. Pretty much you’d see what you would see from Earth in a dark night sky. Except that there won’t be the Moon. And of course, there won’t be Earth too, because you are on the far side.

If you are on the near side of the Moon that always  faces the Earth, then it is your daytime!  So you would see the Sun, and you’d see a New Earth – which actually can’t be seen, unless of course, it is a solar eclipse occurring at your location on the Moon (which in turn means it is a lunar eclipse for your friends on the Earth).

Since there is no atmosphere, and no dispersion of light, you could see stars and planets, if you can somehow block the sunlight!

Stellarium makes it easy to visualize that. Here is a screenshot from a time few hours from now, when the Moon appears full for earthlings.



You can see the “New Earth” pretty close to the Sun, but not close enough to cause an eclipse.  As an aside, there are three planets, and parts of three constellations of the zodiac visible in the screen shot. Click on the image for a better view.

Any guesses?


This is a story from long time ago. You’ll have to go back to a sunny day in the middle of 12th century, to the grand old city of Ujjain in central India. It was to be a memorable day in Leelavati’s life. A day that was expected only once in a girl’s life time – the day when she would be the bride. The day when the groom would tie the golden bridal necklace around her neck. The time had been carefully chosen. You know, the bride’s father was none other than Bhaskara Acharya – Or “the learned teacher Bhaskara”, who was considered as one of the very best mathematician, astronomer and astrologer during those times.

Bhaskara was immensely happy when his daughter Leelavati was born. As was customary in those times, he prepared a chart of planetary positions at the time of his daughter’s birth. When he saw what those positions predicted, he really had to start worrying because the positions indicated the girl would never get married. But how could he not marry off his daughter? Marrying off ones daughter was considered as one of the most critical duties of a family man. Giving the hand of a daughter to a suitable groom was a guaranteed way for a good place in the heavens after death.

But Bhaskara did not leave this worry affect his bringing up of the little child Leelavati. Life went on as usual and Leelavati grew to become a young beautiful and intelligent girl. Bhaskara did leave no effort in educating her with the arts and sciences he was proficient at.  There qas no paucity of material to be taught. Leelavati was especially fond of mathematics, and Bhaskara would often compose terse verses with mathematical problems and ask her to solve.

When it was the appropriate age for Leelavati to get married, her father dug into his books again to see if there was a way to get her married, in spite of the shortcoming in her planetary charts. Finally, after careful evaluation, he found an auspicious time, when all the planets would be at the right locations conducive of a long, happy married life. But time was of the essence, and he had to make sure that the wedding ceremonies began exactly at the prescribed time.

Bhaskara went off to search for a suitable match for his girl. He found a groom to his daughter’s and his liking. All arrangements were made. The wedding hall was decorated with flower garlands. The water clock was also brought to the wedding hall to make sure that the ceremonies began at the right time. The water clock consisted of a big pot of water, in which a metallic bowl of accurate size, shape and weight that had a small hole of accurate dimensions at the bottom would float. Water would constantly come up into the floating bowl filling it up with water, and ultimately sinking it down, which acted as an accurate time marker.

Young Leelavati, still curious at heart, wanted to take a peek into the new water clock that was brought into the wedding hall. When no one was looking, she went near the water clock and peeped inside, and as luck would have it, one of the pearls from her nose ring fell into the floating bowl and covered the hole at the bottom. Unluckily, Leelavati did not take note.

Everyone was waiting for the arrival of the groom’s family, so that the wedding ceremonies might start at the appointed hour. Bhaskara went and checked the clock and was satisfied to see that the appointed hour had not come, because the bowl was still floating. After a while, he checked it again, again to see the bowl at the same position. Now he was sure something had gone terribly wrong. He looked carefully, and saw the pearl that came in between his daughter and her marital bliss, by getting stuck in the hole in the bowl and thus making the auspicious hour pass. The planets had indeed foretold the truth. The groom’s family did not make it to the wedding venue after all.

Bhaskara became sad for a while, but he was a learned man. He went to his daughter Leelavati, and said: “Oh my dear girl, don’t worry. I wanted to get you married so that you could have a family of your own, have good children who would carry the family’s name. But the planets proposed something else. I don’t consider this a defeat. I will make your name immortal”.

He then went on to write a book, which comprised of all those problems that he was giving his daughter, which she was very fond of solving. It had 278 verses, dealing with different fields in mathematics like arithmetic, geometry and algebra. And he called this book after his little girl “Leelavati”, and making his girl immortal as he promised.

Here is one verse from Leelavati (on calculations involving fractions) translated by your truly:


ಬೇಟದಾಟದಲಿರೆ ಇನಿಯ ಇನಿಯೆ, ಮುತ್ತಿನ ಸರವವಳದು ಹರಿಯೆ
ಮೂರಲ್ಲೊಂದು ಉರುಳಿದವು ನೆಲಕೆ; ಐದರಲೊಂದು ಹಾಸಿಗೆ ಕೆಳಗೆ;
ಅವಳು ಹುಡುಕಿದಳು ಆರಲ್ಲೊಂದು; ಇನಿಯ ಹೆಕ್ಕಿಹನು ಹತ್ತರಲೊಂದು
ದಾರದಲೀಗ ಉಳಿದರೆ ಆರು, ಸರದಲಿ ಮೊದಲೆಷ್ಟು ಮುತ್ತಿದ್ದಾವು ಹೇಳು!

ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಮೂಲ: 56th verse of Leelavati

ಹಾರಸ್ತಾರಸ್ತರುಣ್ಯಾ ನಿಧುವನ ಕಲಹೇ ಮೌಕ್ತಿಕಾನಾಂ ವಿಶೀರ್ಣೇ
ಭೂನೌ ಯಾತಾತ್ರಿಭಾಗಃ ಶಯನತಲಗತಃ ಪಂಚಮಾಂಶೋಂಸ್ಯ ದೃಷ್ಟಃ |
ಪ್ರಾಪ್ತಃ ಷಷ್ಟಾಃ ಸುಕೇಶ್ಯಾ ಗಣಕ ದಶಮಕಃ ಸಂಗ್ರಹೀತಃ ಪ್ರಿಯೇಣ
ದೃಷ್ಟಂ ಷಟ್ಕಂಚ ಸೂತ್ರೇ ಕಥಯ ಕತಿಪಯೈಃ ಮೌಕ್ತಿಕೈರೇಷ ಹಾರಃ ||


p.s: The skeleton of this narration is based on Indian folklore – but the details are my imagination.
p.p.s: This post came from the script of speech I gave at my Toastmaster’s club (And won the best speaker of the day too!)
p.p.p.s: Solving the puzzle of pearls is left as an exercise to my readers :-)


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My book “Hamsanada” for iPad, iPhone or iPod

A Collection of  Samskrta Subhashitas, translated to Kannada

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My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

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Ramaprasad K V

Ramaprasad K V

ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ. Musicphile. Bibliophile. Astrophile. Blogophile. Twitterphile.



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