In the eyes of the stars, the sky’s the limit for this astrophotographer | Lucknow News – Times of India

When astrophotography started as a hobby for Harshwardhan Pathak Three years ago, he never dreamed that this would bring him international recognition.
According to the great philosopher Plato, “Astronomy makes the soul look up and leads us from this world to another. ” The same rollercoaster ride happened to Harshvardhan (21), who, out of curiosity, went to Indira Gandhi Planetarium peer into celestial events using the telescope under the guidance of Senior Scientist Sumita Srivastava. He immediately became fascinated and soon became an astrophotographer.
Today, this Lucknow lad is making his presence felt in the world of astrophotography as one of his images was recently selected as the picture of the day by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Harshwardhan, a graduate in Science (Physics, Mathematics, astronomy) student at Lucknow University and also an amateur astrophotographer associated with the Uttar Pradesh Amateur Astronomers Club (UPAAC) was recognized as the “Indian Astronomer of the Year 2022” by APOD, Astronomica, Italy. He also won the HOYS (Hunting Out Bursting Young Stars) citizen science astrophotography competition organized by the University of Kent, Australia and participated in various citizen science projects such as NASA’s Asteroid Search Campaign and others.
“My astrophotography journey started at the Indira Gandhi Planetarium where astrophotography workshops were held. I frequented the planetarium and gradually became interested in Deep Sky Objects (DSO), which is an astronomical object that is not an individual star or object in the Solar System (such as the sun, moon, planet, comet, etc.). ,” said Harshvardhan.
“I soon taught myself how to process space images through articles on the Internet and various videos on YouTube with various astrophotographers around the world. The Indira Gandhi Planetarium has been very supportive by providing equipment and helping with image processing, a key aspect of astrophotography. It detects dust and ionized gases after capturing them in various filters and helps reveal the beauty of various celestial objects in space,” he adds.
Harshvardhan says that the main problem he faced in the deep sky was that he could not take a deep sky image from the main city of Lucknow without proper narrow-band filters due to light pollution (from street lights) that hides the beauty of the night sky.
“We can’t even see the stars from the main city. That’s why I use a remote astronomical telescope that can be controlled by an observer from off-site via the Internet, which is located in an observatory with an automated system for opening and closing the roof. All systems are mechanical and computer-controlled. It’s about have been made available by various astronomy organizations at nominal rates.It has helped me a lot to pursue my hobby and discover the beauty of space which is hidden and which people on earth cannot see,” adds Harshvardhan.
“It was a dream come true to have my image selected as NASA’s ‘Astronomical Image of the Day’, where images are submitted by astrophotographers from all over the world. It is a very prestigious accolade and the dream of every astrophotographer at every level. Another image selected at APOD Astronomical, Italy, I had my second big break in this field,” he says.
After graduation, he plans to continue his studies in physics and conduct research in astrophysics. Taking a cue from Pathak’s achievements, the Indira Gandhi Planetarium has announced that the planetarium will soon be revamped with high-tech facilities to nurture young astro-enthusiasts.
On May 12, 2023, NASA gave Astronomy Image of the Day to Harshwardhan: NGC 7000 (North America Nebula). His second astronomical photo of NGC 3372 (Carina Nebula) was also featured in APOD Astronomica, which publishes astronomy photos worldwide. We are proud of his achievements,” says Sumit Srivastava, Senior Scientist, Indira Gandhi Planetarium.


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