It was just interest of few schools and college going boys from eastern India to look up towards high sky- that got crystallized and gave birth of SWAN in 1987. Arrival of Hally’s comet closer to earth that year played the role of catalyst in the crystallization. But, yes, the crystal did not appear with the name SWAN but remained just as a group or team without any name.
Some events today and some others tomorrow. High altitude locations and dark sky within vicinity as locations and ‘Sky of This Month’ of Science Reporter magazine as guide shook hands with enthusiasm. The synergy of this hand shaking kept the ‘group’ driving for long eight years.
In 1995 India had a Total Solar Eclipse tailor made for the eastern part of the country. The crystal again started pulsating like quartz. Once again, with just Science Reporter as guide and two analog SLR cameras and three rolls of film, the team jumped into the project of recording the TSE from its centerline. It was a success to refuel the crystal to pulsate at even higher amplitude and frequency while reverberating with zeal to do something more, higher, tougher.
1997. Arrival of the brightest comet of 20th century- Hale Bopp, that visits upper sky of Earth once in 4200 years. Once again it was a tailor made for eastern part of India. By then, the team started feeling about having a name. Long thought process ended with the name SWAN. Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal. Just another stereotyped name of just another tiny group of sky watchers. But when abbreviated- it is SWAN. The bird that navigates with stars- as many ornithologists claim.
By then, the then Asst Director of M. P. Birla Planetarium extended his hands to ‘teach’ these ‘kids.’ Strong determination and dedication brought out success in Polarimetric study of the tail of Hale Bopp and its photo coverage. The name SWAN first appeared in public platform in printed form on the face of a huge Translite hung in M. P. Birla Planetarium main entrance with picture of Comet Hale Bopp taken by SWAN members from an altitude of 12,000ft. The same day- it got flashed in NASA website with picture of Hale Bopp. The first website page dedicated to some one from this part of the country. And the navigated flight of SWAN began.
Now SWAN operates from Siliguri, the city at foothills in northern part of West Bengal state of India and plays the role of gateway for entire North Eastern India, Sikkim Bhutan and Nepal.