For the thousands of city residents who waited for the sun to set on Wednesday, so they could take a good look at the red planet, a thick blanket of clouds ruined it all.

Astronomy enthusiasts who had gathered at Birla planetarium in the city said Mars played hide-and-seek and they could see nothing until 7.30 p.m.

But, almost an hour later, the planet emerged with a burnt-orange luminance, much to the thrill of the children and adults gathered.

They queued up to view the planet through telescopes that had been strategically placed around the planetarium.

“I think we were lucky to catch the planet at the right moment for it disappeared behind the clouds within seconds,” said C. Vijayakumar, a software engineer, who had brought his family along. Fathima, a science student, was disappointed she could not see Mars but was happy to see Jupiter and four of its moons clearly through the telescope.

The craters on the Moon too were clearly visible through the telescope and it sent the crowds into a tizzy, said a planetarium official.

The luckiest of them of all may have been Varadarajan, a marine engineer, who was able to see the planet, in all its grandeur as a dark orange ball with dark patches on the lower side, a day earlier.

An official said the planetarium would facilitate the viewing of Mars until Saturday.

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