Lying down, staring into the sky, thoughts wandering, mind at peace…
When one looks at the sky, there is sometimes a sudden urge to just sit down, forget everything and watch. Watch nothing in particular, and at the same time, everything. But few have the time or the means to take it any further. And that is where the Astro Club comes in.
The Astro Club, BITS Pilani, is a group of around five and twenty people passionate about observing and understanding what’s out there. They hold numerous sky-watching sessions every year. We, at the EPC, got curious about what else they were planning for Apogee and here’s what we found out.
The first thing that caught our interest was the Telescope-making workshop. It’s a workshop where people get to build a 90mm Altazimuth Newtonian Reflector – build it from scratch and take it home. Participation for this event has been tremendous, limited only by limited resources. That isn’t surprising, considering the kind of experience it will be.
Then there’s the Messier Marathon, a quizzing event involving two rounds—an elimination round followed by a round on the FD3 terrace. The second round is more of observational astronomy, involving star hopping, a technique often used by amateur astronomers. Many celestial objects are too faint to be visible to the unaided eye. Star hopping uses bright stars as a guide to find fainter objects.
People who’ve seen the Pilani night sky would agree that the worst Pilani sky is eons ahead of the best city skies. Taking complete advantage of this, the Astro Club organises sky-watching session every night during Apogee. Anyone free can just drop by for a while and see hundreds of tiny craters on the moon and a planet or two if they’re lucky. Also, on one night, there will an Astrophotography demonstration, in addition to the usual telescope session.
Talking about astronomy in general, Astro Club Coordinator Shaleen Kumar Sharma, expressed regret about how interest in the subject was waning, and wished people would stop, take a little time out and let awe course through their veins as they realised how insignificant they really were. There’s something very comforting about staring into infinity, with a few like-minded people with you. You can do that, and a lot more, during Apogee. FD3 terrace. Every night.