Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A day in hundred years. :)

It was an awesome experience.  Today was the day when I really missed having a high resolution imaging device, still I am happy. Happy because I missed it 8 years ago.Though I had read about it in my favorite science magazine in 2004, I couldn't watch it at that time. Today morning was my lucky morning and I made up after 8 years. :)

   I am talking about today's Venus transit. This is the second transit of the century (in unscientific terms). I am not going to explain the science of this. You can find it all over the internet. :)
 
      In 2004, I had no idea that I would see its twin in 2012. Probably the missing part might have made me subconsciously wish to see the second one. Anyway I made it up. I can still feel that I am still excited. :) I don't know, I started making plans not to miss this about a month ago. I still had no specific plan. So we requested our guide for any plan to watch this. So she consulted with one of the faculties in our institute and he agreed to bring his telescope for the event.

    Even though there was an arrangement, I still was not sure whether I'll make it or not, provided my sleeping habits. I am here, in Chennai, where the transit would be visible in the morning. So obviously I had to get up early in the morning.
So yesterday evening I suddenly found myself going to my apartment from the office to sleep early. But sleep never came to me till it was midnight! I couldn't sleep due to excitement.And in between, my friend passed on the information to me that, our guide had told her about the  arrangements science forum were making on Marine beach to watch the transit. So I tried to sleep even harder. But in vain.

     Finally sleep came to me around midnight (actually, I had to forcefully shut my mind to the possible excitement which awaited me). I put an alarm for 4am! It rang at 4. I woke up. Thought about the silver planet. Then tried to sleep again. Then woke up. There was a struggle between excitement and exhaustion for a while. Finally my room mate woke up and I asked her to call as soon as she got ready. :) But I couldn't sleep. I woke up myself by the time she got ready and got ready as soon as possible. :) And we three set out to the bus stop.

     Almost 6.30. "No I don't want to be late", I thought. I almost ran towards the bus stop. I was so sure that any bus which went via broadway would take us to Marina. But none was stopping! Then other kind passengers in the stop guided us to the bus stop some 3m away where all the buses to broadway stop. Finally we got a bus.

      It was beautiful. From yesterday evening there was nice breeze. The roads were empty. It was a golden morning. I felt that I was living some dream. :) Finally we got down at Gandhi Silai in Marina. I was expecting a huge crowd. But we didn't see any.

     We walked searching for telescopes. First we saw a group of people to whom another group seemed to be explaining something. But to our shock and amusement we found out that it was a group of some holistic healers! What an irony! Irony was that we found the forum people very soon, not far away from the holistic healer group! There was no crowd. But there were some 50 or so people. Still no telescope.

         We went to the people holding aluminium filters. They were broad sheets fixed on wooden rails. :) And I found that we had to look through it. I waited patiently. Then came my chance. I looked. The first thing I saw was my reflection. Then I looked through it......

      And I saw. I saw the small black dot on the left side of the solar disc. :) I don't know what I felt about it. Surely, now, when I am writing this, my eyes are welling up with tears. I can't express it in words. No photo, no words, no image is comparable to watching it with your own eyes, live (even though thay all make you happy).  I felt happy that I was able to spot the dot fast. (My struggle with adjusting spectrometer focus hasn't gone in vain. :)) And I don't know what I felt. I stood watching it.

     Then I learned about the telescope there. So I went there. Obviously I had to click a photo. Then I clicked the image on the screen form the telescope. But telescope image is a mirror image. I had to go back and see through foil to get the real feeling. :) So I went back and looked at it. It was such a pretty sight. I missed having a high zoom DSLR, or a movie camera. And in hundred years Venus is not going to transit. Hmmm. :) But still I have the photo in my mind. :) And it is a beautiful one.

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We returned after half an hour or so. But we missed our guide by 5 minutes. She was just going to Marina, when we were on the bus. So we came back, took the shuttle to the institute. And I couldn't help thinking about the excitement that awaited here. The first thing I saw when I came here was one of my friends carrying a solar eclipse filter. Hunger won over excitement and I had to go and eat something.

 But then I couldn't sit peacefully in my office too. How could I miss the fun when everybody else might also be having? I had fun in the morning,but why would I miss it if I could still have the fun? After all I call myself a Physicist. [I am sure I would never have missed the fun even if I were not one. It is not everyday that you see your neighbouring planet across the sun.] So I set out from my office in pursuit of the friend with the filter.

        After going up and down the building, I luckily found him. And he directed me to the group viewing the transit with the telescope which was promised to be brought. :) And I saw a sun the size of a dime and a small venus on it. :) And clicked it again, missing having a DSLR camera. [I again remembered my own motto; have something if you feel like having it, instead of regretting it. :)] People in the group kept clicking the coin sized sun. :)

     Then looked at the sun again, and saw that the dot had moved on to the top of the disc. What started as a small group ended up as a big one, when many started coming in. But towards the end of it. Then came the person with the dslr, who was probably going to take the picture of the telescope (when he had a powerful DSLR!). Somehow to compensate for my not having the camera, I requested him to take a photo of the sun. He somehow found his camera stand in time and clicked good pictures. : )We even saw sunspots on it. :) Hopefully, he will send the pictures around or upload it somewhere.

 :) By the end Venus was going up and up to the  edge of the solar disc, and when it was about to end, our guide came back from Marina. : ) And we had a chance to look through welding glass. Sun looks green through it. And it went and went and finally it was hard to make out whether it was there or not. The crowd had almost dispersed. There were only 4 of us left. And I left, telling "goodbye Venus" silently. :)


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In one way I was lucky. :) In another way I was determined. Lucky because the sky was clear. Determined because I didn't want to miss the celestial event. :) That's why a day in hundred years and I am happy that I like Physics. :)  


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