Photo Report: TWAN in the Land of Himalaya
In November 2009 one of the last major TWAN activities during the International Year of Astronomy 2009 was collection of programs in Nepal. Based on collaboration with Nepal Astronomical Society and its highly motivated young amateur astronomers, TWAN photographers Babak Tafreshi and Oshin Zakarian traveled to Kathmandu. A concise TWAN astrophotography workshop and was the starting point on November 15. Then the documentary producing team of Markham Street Films in Canada arrived to make a story about TWAN and Astronomers Without Borders, as a part of their new documentary Acquainted With the Night. After months of planning and communication with TWAN, the filming location was finally selected in Nepal not only to follow an adventure imaging mission of TWAN, also to present how the concept of “One People, One Sky” brings together TWAN with Nepal Astronomers. Another highlighted event was a major public starparty organized by Nepal Astronomical Society in the World Heritage Site of Bhaktapur. Hundreds of local people gathered in the central square surrounded by dozens of amazing temples, to view the Moon and Jupiter for their first time through a telescope. The 8-inch motorized reflector which was brought by TWAN is currently the largest amateur telescope in Nepal, and of the few sizable telescopes in the whole country. In second part of the visit, the two TWAN photographers flew to Lukla to start a week-long trekking in the Himalayas, on the route to Mt. Everest base camp. Finding the best scenes for at night-time imaging was not possible without 80km of trekking and several all-night photography in freezing temperature, but the photographers enjoyed darkest starry sky in the Himalayas and their effort resulted in first TWAN views of Mt. Everest region in the World Heritage Sagarmatha National Park. Based on this successful experience and potentials for astrotourism in Himalayas, TWAN tours to Nepal will begin in close future. See TWAN Gallery of Nepal and Himalayas.
Read an interview with the photographers on TWAN mission to Nepal.