Confederation of Indian Amateur Astronomers - Indian Astronomy

Indian Astronomy

Indian astronomy is slightly different from modern astronomy. Unlike the constellations the science is based on the Rashi - Twelve Zodiacal Constellations and Twenty Seven Nakshatras. The number of Nakshatras varies from 27 to 28 depending on the language and location. These Nakshatras are also known as the wives of the moon, since our celestial neighbor travels over the sky in period less than a month.

Amateur astronomers residing in rural areas use the ancient form of Hindu astronomy which is close to the Āryabhatīya, the magnum opus of Aryabhata named above. Aryabhata was an amateur astronomer. His passion for sciences began with his first encounter of the solar eclipse. He is credited as the first astronomer to make an attempt at measuring the Earth's circumference since Eratosthenes (circa 200 BC). Aryabhata accurately calculated the Earth's circumference as 24,835 miles, which was only 0.2% smaller than the actual value of 24,902 miles. Aryabhatta was the first to prepare the Indian Almanac, better known as panchangam. Rural amateur astronomers still use the panchang, while some assist the pandits in drafting the annual almanac.

Indian amateur astronomers use maps that, depending on experience and intentions, may range from simple planispheres through detailed maps of very specific areas of the night sky for getting involved in projects like photographing the whole sky, the Messier objects or observing the occultation of the stars by the Moon, or studyig asteroids. A range of astronomy software is available and used by amateur astronomers, including software that generates maps of the sky, software to assist with astrophotography, and software to perform various calculations pertaining to astronomical phenomena.

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