Observing the Geminids!

By akarshsimha; Published 15 Dec 2007

If someone learnt that the five of us (Amar, Pavan, Anindita, Srinidhi[1], me) were going for an observing session yesterday afternoon, they'd have thought we're senseless. The sky was completely overcast, except for one small patch of blue, probably spanning a few square degrees. But when Amar is around, that is totally explicable.

While none of us expected the skies to clear at all (I had gone there to have a long late-night chat with Pavan and Srinidhi), Amar was as usual optimistic[2]. And this was yet another of those times when it cleared, even before midnight. It cleared even before dinner. I was overwhelmed! I never expected that we'd get such good skies looking at the afternoon's overcast skies.

The Bus ride to Hosahalli

We boarded the bus to Dodaballapur at Mekhri circle, with a long delay, due to - as you might've already guessed - Amar's eating "breakfast" at Shanti Sagar[3] at 3:15 PM. I don't know when we reached the bus stand, bu quite surprisingly, we reached Dod Ballapur at 5:00 PM on the dot! While Srinidhi, Pavan and Anindita managed to catch the bus to Ujjani via Hosahalli and get a seat and I squeezed in somehow and shared the seat with Pavan and Anindita, Amar, who had the great idea of boarding the bus at the end (because he wouldn't get a seat anyway) ended up never getting in because it was completely full[5]! Amar, as usual, ended up catching the late bus.

Setting up the Telescope

We met "MJS sir", the P.T. Master at the Hosahalli school and we are very grateful to him for agreeing to permit us to use the Hosahalli school telescope, a masterpiece by Mr. Dilip Kumar - one of the best telescopes I've looked through. Just as we set up the telescope and pointed at a few objects through some windows of relatively clear sky (Moon, M33, M31, M32, M110, M76), Amar walked in with a rather heavy bag full of blankets etc.

Pre-dinner observing

The skies were just getting clearer and clearer. We saw H and Chi Persei, which looked horrible through the haze, and Orion Nebula which was even worse and a few of the other regular stuff like Comet Holmes, and a few Geminids. Sculptor galaxy was marvellous. We also saw the Crab Nebula.


The regular dinner at Shivanna's place. No ragimudde this time. As usual it was amazing.

Post-dinner observing

Lots of objects. The skies slowly improved and became crystal clear by midnight. (Amar's theory works!)

M42 was Amazing, as were the Double Cluster, that cluster out there that we like to call the "Guitar cluster", M35 and M36. Skies were really good. The many other objects I saw included the open cluster at the edge of M35, NGC 2903. Flame nebula was also visible and was amazing - it looked like a lumpy extension of the glare of Alnitak. 

We saw about 85 Geminid meteors - including a meteor which exploded in a bluish green fireball down south - an amazing sight indeed

Amar did his regular faint-galaxy observing and I was confirming stuff for him as usual[6].


Fog set in at 2:00 PM. Amar, Srinidhi, and I went to sleep in the open. Pavan and Anindita, who had to get to college / work today morning, who were already asleep in one of the classrooms, joined us a little later owing to our great man hallucinating about "King Cobras" in the room, the after effect of my scaring him about snakes and scorpions in the room[7].

Heading Back 

We got back to Bangalore today morning, saw off Srinidhi at the CBI bus stop, macht fru"hstuck at the same Shanti Sagar in R.T. Nagar, and dispersed.

In all, it was a wonderful experience. I suppose everyone enjoyed everything on the trip (except of course, my presence Wink). 

Footnotes (?) 

[1] A long time friend of mine, who had been wanting to go observing for the past one year. 

[2] c.f. My blog post titled Of Star Parties on Cloudy Nights

[3] c.f. Paper by Dr. H. M. Jagannatha[4], "Where to find Amar when it is late for an observing trip" (Not published)

[4] Shashank's father. 

[5] Amar has to have a misadventure either with a bus or with his spectacles every time we go observing. 

[6] When I asked Srinidhi in the morning whether he enjoyed the session, he replied in the positive and added "I saw someone who is so crazy about seeing faint fuzzy patches!", with reference to Amar.

[7] I must admit that his fear must be attributed almost completely to me.