Being an asteroid discoverer, I got the opportunity to be a part of the G-HOU (Global Hands-on Universe) Conference 2019 last summer. G-HOU is a wonderful group of highly accomplished astrophysicists, professors, science teachers and students. The members of G-HOU meet every year and have discussions on amazing topics in astronomy, share their work, and organise workshops in their respective fields of expertise.
This time the conference happened at OHP (Observatoire de Haute-Provence), France. OHP is one of the premier observatories in Europe, set up in the beautiful South of France. It is home to the 1.93 m CNRS Telescope, which was one of the largest telescopes of the 20th century.
During the conference, there were various exciting events, from interesting talks about black holes and supernovae, night observation sessions, and hands-on experience with 0.8 m telescopes, to learning how to analyse exoplanet data and taking images from robotic telescopes. All of this jam-packed into one exhilarating week made this one of the best experiences in my life.
However, the best part about this conference was meeting people who love doing science and getting an opportunity to interact with them. At the end of the day, I established strong connections with various professors around the world. This includes Dr Patrick Miller, Director of the IASC (International Astronomical Search Collaboration) with whom I have worked for the past 3 years on international asteroid search campaigns, Dr. Fraser Lewis and Dr. Rosa Doran under whom I am working on the Black Holes In My School project, and many more respected scientists whose love for science strengthened my passion for astrophysics.
When I look back at this experience, I am also overwhelmed by the fact that I was at the exact place, in fact, under the exact same telescope which was used by the 2019 Physics Nobel Prize winners, Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, to discover the first-ever exoplanet Pegasi 51b. At the time I went there, they had not yet received the Nobel. So, now, the thought of them receiving the Nobel for their work at OHP along with my enriching experience at the G-HOU Conference 2019 makes my memories of OHP even more special.
I would encourage every astrophysics enthusiast out there to participate in this
conference at least once in their lifetime!