Someone wisely said that only unknown induces fear. Little acquaintance makes us curious enough to discover it completely. Space has always been unknown. I am not sure whether it is humanly possible to discover it completely. Maybe not but the little doors it opens for us to reveal itself more is exhilarating.
Aug 1 2008 experienced a Solar eclipse. In recent times, this is considered a rare delight. I remember earlier and even now in some parts of the world, people take it as an omen. Rituals are performed to ward off any side effects. Years back, I read a short story "Dhoomketu"(which means comet in Hindi) about a scientist in Calcutta, India who was to present a paper in London on his research findings. On the day the comet was to be seen, he was in the terrace with his telescope while his family were performing rituals and prayers. I was very influenced by the story and liked the scientist for holding on to his beliefs and fighting against the social norms.
On 1986, Hailey's comet flew towards earth. Our science teacher had urged us to see it as we might not get another opportunity in our life time, given that the comet visits earth every 76 years. My brother stayed up late to see but I cooly dozed off. Later when space fascinated me more, I used to gaze stars every night and try to identify the constellations. I was so infatuated that I wanted to take up astronomical science and join NASA. I remember only one friend of my brother took up astronomical science. At an era, when computer science and electronics were so popular, people could not understand his choice. But those who understood would know that he made career out of his dream.
I had stayed up late many nights to catch a glimpse of comet or shooting stars. While trying to figure out falling meteors, I had mistaken planes for celestial objects. Till date, I think I have seen 1 or 2 shooting stars but no eclipse. In fact, now there is a company - Travel Quest International which helps astronomy enthusiasts to experience these rare feats. This company actually takes people on a flight across the globe to experience the solar eclipse. The owner, Aram Kaprielian, is a ardent solar eclipse fan. He is taking people over Asia, North Pole and even Antarctica to see the solar eclipse. By 2010, he plans to offer space travels to outer space. Now, that would truly be an out of the world experience.