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2 years and counting - My experiences at Astro IITM.

Basically, I'm copy-pasting a post i wrote for Astro IITM.

I'm not blogging now because the next batch of bakras are going to arrive in the institute and when we show them some pseud slides telling them what Astro IITM is and then later on get to the website and not see many updates, in the past two years. So, here goes my account of what happened in the two years i've been part of this club at IITM.

I come to the institute, GCU orientation session and there is someone on stage (i still dont know how i couldn't notice shiva on stage) talking about an astronomy club at IITM, which has theory and observation sessions and given the opportunity a *STAR  PARTY*. So, looking forward to the day of the session, i start deviating towards all the other crap there is in the insti to do, especially the shaastra volship.

So, finally when there was a session, I hesitatingly join the small gumbal in the physics dept. with two big bouncers (shiva & akshay) on stage and two teenagers(akarsh & prasanna) trying to get the projector and the slides working and then a girl(Smruthi) comes up and introduces herself as our senior and to be in the humanities dept. So, an interesting turn of events, I look forward to what's going to happen. the two bouncers take turns in talking, trying to describe what was on there on the slides, what is there in the universe and what there is to astronomy and finally they took us to the rooftop, put the telescope together, gave us some fundamentals and we got to see through the telescope. So, an overall good session, looking forward to the next one and a bit more interested in this than i was before.

A few more sessions in the semester and a lot of pfart sessions(discussions  on RANDOM topics) with shiva, akarsh, smruthi, akshay, srinikethan, prasanna, vinay; it started to feel good, that something interesting is upthere in the skies (not aliens or UFOs).

The start of the next sem and people are planning for a trip to rameswaram to view the annular solar eclipse and i signed up for the ride. We took photos, saw bailey's beads, we went to the beach and we stayed up all night under the stars on the shore. No noise, no light.. absolute calmness and suddenly people start screaming "I can spot the LMC", "I can see M32", "I can see sombrero" and the next day we're back to the college. A few more sessions in this sem too and a lot more pfart sessions, i signed up as one of the coordinators for the astronomy workshop for shaastra along with akshay, smruthi and srinikethan and the sem was over. We were supposed to build a telescope, from scratch, which only one of us knew how to and i was supposed to build a radio telescope(still under construction). We go around looking for vendors for different parts to make a telescope, how to assemble them, make prototypes, contact colleges and after a lot of crap, shaastra is over, 10 teams with working telescopes, which they built themselves in 4 days, are leaving happily. This sem ends up the same too and the next sem starts and ends almost immediatly with shiva passing out of the college in a few months.

Then admist trying to figure out what to do for the astrophotography workshop this shaastra (again me and srinikethan, along with praveen as coords), news goes around that there is a lunar eclipse, the longest in a long while, going to happen in a weeks time. In the last minute, we make the fb astro page public, make an event and put up posters in the insti for others to come too. After i became part of astro club, there were stories of how akshay and akarsh went to the north somewhere to try observe a solar eclipse because you couldn't see it from over here, but due to cloud cover, they couldn't over there too. And now, sitting under a thick blanket of clouds enveloping the moon, waiting for it to clear, hoping for it to clear. People come, go back, anxious faces waiting for the slightest hint of the moon during the eclipse but finally around 1 the just as the croud fell out and there were a handful people left, slowly the clouds start moving, the skies start clearing up and we can see the moon in the umbra, slowly moving, a giant red ball in the sky. People in awe, we keep tracking it, slowing moving away to watch the lagoon nebula, trifid nebula, jupiter, its rings and it's moons, and we finally give up and pack up, all the while talking about aliens on earth, seti, ufos, english literature, fantasy books.

Finally i realised that patience actually pays off, maybe it takes too long, maybe it will be too tiring but it does pay off, that seniors help a lot, that enthusiasm is the biggest weapon a fresher at IITM or any institute has and you'll finally find yourself good at things which you didn't think you were, friends with people you didn't think you'd be and leading a life which you never thought you would be. But as you can see, i'm here now, writing, still in awe of that night, these past two years, trying to think of what there is in store for me, for my friends and for Astro IITM in the future. Well, lets's wait and see.

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