Sunday, June 26, 2005


Happened to be driving by University Hills yesterday evening, and found a notice about the 'open house' at the observatory. The UCI observatory is located on a dirt track off the main drive in University Hills, affording a grand view of the whole of Irvine. It was a mindblowing view to just look out on the town. We could see planes land and take off from John Wayne, and somewhere in the distance there were fireworks. The dirt-track leading to the observatory is unlit and we had to navigate it by the light of the moon and my cellphone. It's also supposedly cougar country, but then none of us really worried too much! It's one of those places where the serenity (cougars notwithstanding) just takes your breath away, and I do plan on taking a walk there sometime. It was also a bit of a coincidence that I had been talking to NA about stargazing the previous evening.

My exploits with astronomy have been pretty limited, but I have gazed out at the stars on many a clear night and taken it all in. I'm good enough to make out Orion's belt and Mars and Venus in the twilight sky - the buck stops there with me. I do remember hanging with my building gang back in 1996-97, watching the Hyukatake comet whizz past in the sky. I also have vague memories of being woken up one night when I was 5, to look at the Halley's Comet. At that time it was amusing to think that I wouldnt see the Halley's comet again, unless I was alive into my 80s! AN and I still have a running joke about the Hale-Bopp comet - it reminds us of Cyndi Lauper's song "She-bop"!

Apparently Venus, Mercury and Saturn align in a straight line today(June 25), and the open house was probably in anticipation of it. The main UCI telescope was focused on a nebula 30,000 light years away (!!!). Most of the folks were quite disappointed just to wait 1-1.5h just to see a few white specks on a black background through an eyepiece. But the sheer magnitude of the distance is a humbling thought - much like we look at cells and organelles under a microscope.

We also got an opportunity of seeing Jupiter and Saturn last night in all their glory. We could see the cloud layers on both planets - we couldnt see the red spot on Jupiter, coz the telescope wasnt powerful enough I guess.

It's going to be a heavy duty weekend, with a lot of thinking and analysis - academic and personal. There is the old adage, that it is "written in the stars". I have not really been a firm believer in that, but then was reminded of it last night at the observatory. The next 2 weeks are going to be crucial for me as I take important decisions - some short-term and some long-term, some I love making, but a few which I feel I would be better off not thinking about. I just hope that the plans dont come to naught and I end up with half a page of scribbled lines. Yeah, Pink Floyd's "Time" does ring true oh-so-often. So please do keep your fingers crossed for my sake and hope that it all works out for the best.

And so that's that....

What's buzzing:
Yanni...Live at the Acropolis...

No comments: