With planets and stars for company

It was a memorable night as kids got to look at the sky over their heads like never before

October 11, 2016 03:55 pm | Updated 03:55 pm IST

Star gazing at Anaikatti

Star gazing at Anaikatti

It was only my second astronomy club session. In the first, I had seen Jupiter and the moon, so I was excited to see what this one was going to be about. My second astronomy club session was organised by Mango Education that holds after-school science and computer science programmes. Obuli Chandran, one of the founders, said that this was a way to interest children in astronomy, as this subject is not taught in schools. The session was held on the night of October 7 because there was a meteor shower. The night sky over Anaikatti was very clear and I saw three planets and the moon.

It was a big learning experience. Setting up the telescope and looking at everything through it was also a lot of fun. I improved my knowledge of astronomy, the stars and everything else in the sky. I spent the night asking questions, getting answers, and clearing doubts about space science.

It was almost a week ago when I first noticed a star near the moon. I started watching it every day and noticed that it was moving farther and farther away from the moon as the days went by. When I saw the star through the telescope for the first time last Friday I realised it wasn’t a star at all. I had been looking at Venus, a planet.

Up next was Mars. It looked red, like the textbooks said. After Mars, we saw the planet with rings. Saturn was majestic, even though it was difficult to focus on because of the clouds. I got lucky. When I was at the telescope, the rings were clearly visible. Some other teachers, students, and visitors weren’t that lucky.

Last on our list of sightings was the moonww. It was the clearest thing I saw on the telescope. I could even see the craters and the rocks! It was amazing to see something so far away as if it were right next door!

The showstopper of the night, though, was the meteors. I thought meteors were very rare, but the people from Mango Education, who were helping us with the telescopes, told us we might see some more on October 21. I wasn’t able to see any yesterday, so I am going to keep watch.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I will get luckier.

After we gazed at the skies, we got together to watch The Martian . At the end of the movie we played a game about a manned mission that crashed on the moon, 200 miles away from the landing spot. Only 15 items survived the crash without damage, and we had to prioritise the list. Then, we compared our list with what NASA had released.

With all the planned activities coming to a close, we headed back to star-gaze.

It was beautiful to stand in the ground with friends, old and new, and just look upwards to the night sky. It was almost 2.00 a.m., a beautiful time to watch the stars. They all looked so beautiful in the night sky. It was a perfect way to end the night.

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