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Decoding messages from stars — the scientific way

In 1609,Galileo changed the way people looked at the stars by inventing the telescope. Four hundred years later,the anniversary of his invention is being celebrated across the world.

Skywatch,exhibitions,sidewalks mark International Year of Astronomy in Delhi

In 1609,Galileo changed the way people looked at the stars by inventing the telescope. Four hundred years later,the anniversary of his invention is being celebrated across the world.

In Delhi,the Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE),Nehru Planetarium and the National Science Centre are organising skywatches,exhibitions and other programmes to mark the International Year of Astronomy. The programmes aim to draw the interest of people towards astronomy and its importance in daily life and science.

“Very few people understand the significance of astronomy in culture,and most often confuse astronomy with astrology. We are trying to create awareness about the science of astronomy and the contribution of India to this science,” said Shivaprasad Khened,director of the National Science Museum,which will unveil an exhibition on astronomy in May. The exhibition will contain replicas of the instruments used in ancient and medieval India for cosmological studies,besides detailed graphic panels on theories in astronomy and noted Indian astronomers and astrophysicists.

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On Thursday,a four-day celebration of astronomy,titled ‘100 hours of Astronomy’ got under way at the Jantar Mantar,built as an astronomical observatory in the 18th Century. From April 2-5,live webcasts of observations made by telescopes stationed at 80 locations around the world will be displayed every evening at Jantar Mantar via projection screens. The event,organised by SPACE,includes installation of telescopes for the public. SPACE will make use of the instruments of the 18th-Century observatory,and explain the science behind the construction. “We will also hold a sidewalk observation by installing telescopes at the Central Park and other locations in Connaught Place,” said Swati Sinha,media representative,SPACE.

An astrophotography workshop has also been scheduled on April 3.

At the planetarium,pictures of the night sky taken by photographers and astronomers across the world are on display as part of an exhibition — The World At Night. There are images of meteor showers and of the moon at various locations. From October,visitors will also be able to watch films on understanding the universe from the perspective of earth,and Indian contribution to astronomy. “These films will explain phenomena such as light pollution from the perspective of the viewer,and create awareness about astronomy,” said N Rathnashree,director of the Nehru Planetarium.

There will be another workshop on eclipses to prepare students for the July 22 total solar eclipse. “The tentative date for the workshop is the third Sunday of April,” said Vishnu Rathnam,member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of the Planetarium.


Event calendar
* 100 Hours of Astronomy at Jantar Mantar: April 2-5,6 am to 10 pm
* Webcast of activities by SPACE:
* Photography exhibition at Nehru Planetarium. Can be viewed at
* Astronomy exhibition at Nehru Planetarium to be unveiled in May
* Weekly radio programmes on astronomy on AIR FM Rainbow at 9.10-9.40 am from April 5.

First published on: 03-04-2009 at 12:04:44 am
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