This article originally appeared on my blog http://lifeofpradeep.wordpress.com. I recovered the post using Wayback Machine.
I first explored the world of Astronomy on the Internet when I was 17 years old. I registered in the forums of Astronomy.com and wrote a few posts there urging the Indian amateur astronomers to collect data. Well, this was a point I made to various amateur astronomers across India when ever I had the chance to meet them. I re-iterated that it was the collection of data that seperated us from the amateurs in the West.
The concern is real. There is really very little online data available. However, where this changes is the doing. While I had a concern, and shared it with a few like minded individuals, I never did anything to fix the problem.
I never progressed to observational astronomy. I never observed – much less collected data – night in and night out. I never sought to do this even in a notebook offline. Given this, I realised that I am not the right guy to suggest that amateur astronomers in India must rigorously collect and store data.
This realisation hit me pretty hard. It is a realisation from which I have still not recovered. I realised I had no idea what I was talking about. I never stood in a dark place which was kilometers outside of a city and looked up and observed the night sky. I never have sketched what I saw through a telescope’s eye piece. I have never setup a telescope and let other people observe the night sky. I have so far only looked up and urged others to look up.
I have had this realisation only recently. Three months ago. I have been totally numbed by this realisation. I have not moved an inch beyond what I have written in the above paragraph in the last three months. This is because I felt I had done something wrong. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to all the amateur astronomers in India to whom I have suggested this.