This time it was five of us who had gone for an observing session around 70 km from the city to our northern location, Hosahalli. This was the very first time that we hunted for a new location away from the Govt. school where we usually observe from. This was just around 2 km from the village going straight, it was in a small open place beside a village-road. Among us, Godfrey Lawrence, and new-comer Vinod and me went first at around 8pm in our new friend, Vinod’s car. Then other friends Nithin and Vinay arrived later for the first time at around 10 pm with great difficulty. We had carried our friend Sathya’s 6″ telescope mounted on an equatorial mount.
The sky throughout the night was something I had very rarely seen in my life !! except for only around 2-3 times in the past. The Milky-way near Canis Major was especially thick. Except for local lights from far away villages in all the directions, the sky was wonderfully dark upto around less than 10 degrees above the horizons in the south!! I couldn’t make use of the 6″ much because I wasn’t comfortable with it, but we had 3 binoculars so that was used to see objects everywhere. Simultaneously, Vinay and me were seeing many globulars with Olympus 10×50 binoculars – the 2 Messier globulars in Ophiuchus, Omega Centauri, M3 M5, M13, M4 and a few others. I was not confident of seeing the Virgo cluster of galaxies with a 6″ (as I was then more used to using a 8″ telescope, and 6″ appeared a small scope to me). I still gave it a try for a few minutes and didn’t see anything there.
In the morning we saw a very bright light in the east, all of a sudden. First I thought it was a very low moving airplane in our direction. When others confirmed it to not be moving, we were shocked at the brightness of the object, what could it be? Then we realized that it was nothing other than Venus. It appeared to us also like a supernova or some new very bright star!!
We saw lots of meteors everywhere in the sky right from evening to morning. But the most important attraction of our lives which I’m sure very few people will have ever witnessed was a special meteor. This meteor was a fireball (very bright meteor) and as it burnt silently, it exploded without causing any sound leaving a bright trail for around 2 minutes or so! But it’s specialty was this that when it exploded, it suddenly brightened the entire surroundings !!! For a second, there was as much light around us as there’s at 6pm in the evening after sunset !!!!! It created daylight while exploding !! We had no idea how to estimate it’s magnitude but felt like giving a number anywhere between -10 and -15 mag. !!! Must have been very low in the atmosphere and it’s broken pieces might have also fallen somewhere far if it wouldn’t have been destroyed completely after exploding. We obviously without doubt would have had gone hunting for it if it was somewhere nearby and feasible to make an expedition trip to salvage the piece of rock from outer space. But we had no idea where it fell, if it really did.
We returned the next day remembering the mystic beauty of the Milky-Way and the exploding meteor, both of which we had witnessed the previous night.
More of my adventures at my Diary section in my webpage: