In the summer of 2019, when the world was normal and travel was still permitted, I attended the ATDP Introduction to Astronomy and Astrophysics Course at the University of California, Berkeley. I went into the course with zero knowledge about the subject and not knowing what to expect. By the time I was on my flight back to India on July 14 and wishing the flight would land in time(since the Cricket World Cup final was due to begin half an hour after landing), I felt as if I had done a four-year course squeezed into one month, which, in fact, I kind of had. We completed a college-level coursebook in one month (12 three hour classes, to be precise) and I felt as if the course had been going on my entire life.
The course began with simple enough tasks: read the chapters, discuss the chapters, take quizzes on the chapters. However, it quickly escalated so much so that at one point, I didn't know if I would be able to complete it competently. I settled into a better routine, allowing myself to study the chapters more comprehensively in order to better understand and complete the assignments. This led to a drastic increase in my interest in the subject since Astronomy is not exactly something which we are all exposed to in school. Studying different types of stars, galaxies, astronomical events more and more led to an increase in my knowledge, which automatically led me to perform better as the course progressed. I will say this, though: this course is immensely time-consuming. It requires reading about two chapters for each session, doing the assignments for the chapters of the previous session, and on top of that, we had additional projects or experiments occasionally. There is also the final project, which is fun to do since we can basically work on whatever we wanted to do. The course is worth every minute you spend on it since each of these minutes is spent on expanding your knowledge of this subject that keeps on becoming increasingly engrossing. There are also fun activities, like measuring the height of the Sather Tower, and visiting the Chabot Space and Science Center for a field trip. This was especially interesting since we were, for the first time, able to apply our recently acquired knowledge of different lenses, mirrors, telescopes and see it work in real life. I and a couple of friends also talked to other visitors and space enthusiasts about various much-debated topics in the astronomical field. We obviously couldn't leave without taking photos, though, so here you go:
The Chabot Center Telescope
The Chabot Center Telescope
Overall, I think I had spent the summer in the "perfect" manner(I think it's obvious from whose perspective I am speaking here). Jokes apart, though, I actually did enjoy this summer immensely, since I learnt, had fun, made new friends, ate a lot of pizza(and I mean a lot) and of course, watched the Cricket World Cup. It was a once in a lifetime experience, and an exceptionally good one at that. (Except for the day when my mother tried to make pancakes from some weird multigrain flour, and if my stomach could speak, it would tell you its misery for the following day personally. but since it can't, let's just say it had the following reaction: