Amar Sharma is an unassuming 29-year-old, who was visibly embarrassed when a little girl asked him for an autograph.
He tried explaining to the little girl and her mother that he had not achieved anything, for them to be seeking his photograph. However, he obliged when the two insisted.
Mr. Sharma, an amateur astronomer, is among the few Indians after whom asteroids have been named.
The others being mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, founder of Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) Vainu Bappu, physicist from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research M.G.K. Menon, former director of IIA J.C. Bhattacharya, father of India’s space programme Vikram Sarabhai and his dancer-wife Mrinalini Sarabhai.
On what drew him towards astronomy, Mr. Sharma told The Hindu that his visit to a planetarium in 2000 was the catalyst, as he met amateur astronomers.
“They took me to Bannerghatta to look at the night sky. Looking at the bright stars pushed me to pursue astronomy. Today’s generation is oblivious to such things as they go behind artificial light. Looking at the stars is almost spiritual,” he said.
Mr. Sharma began pursuing astronomy after his B.Sc. degree. “I was once photographing a part of the sky when a star decided to flare up. It was a category called Mira Variable, which happens over a period of days. This was an accidental celestial discovery,” he said.
He was also involved in several projects and has been in touch with several astronomers across the globe, including renowned astronomer David Levy. It was Dr. Levy who identified his talent and decided to name the asteroid after Mr. Sharma.
He is now creating awareness about astronomy and works in a public observatory — Nikay — on the city’s outskirts.
My visit to a planetarium in 2000 was the catalyst, says Amar Sharma