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Friday, February 21, 2020

Pune’s love for stars, sky gazing finds mention in Mann ki Baat

Prime Minister lauds contributions of IUCAA and NCRA.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune | Published: December 31, 2019 6:25:43 am
Gigantic steerable parabolic dishes, part of the Giant Metre Wave Radio Telescope, at Khodad in Pune district. (File)

Three of the city’s astronomy-related projects, including the unique radio observatory, found a special mention in the recently aired Mann ki Baat, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded contributions made by the astronomy community in the country.

Terming India “quite advanced” in space science, Modi said this field has led to several pathbreaking initiatives and projects.

During his hour-long address on December 29, he highlighted the works undertaken mainly by two of Pune’s prime astronomy institutes — Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and TIFR-National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA).

“We have a Giant Meter-wave Radio Telescope (GMRT) near Pune. Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has an astronomical satellite called ASTROSAT. ISRO is planning to launch a satellite called Aaditya, to study the sun,” the PM said in his final radio address to the nation this year.

While IUCAA has been working on ASTROSAT and Aaditya-L1, in early 2019, the GMRT was upgraded to the next-gen telescope and has since been producing pathbreaking results. These institutes, along with a handful of others in the country, represent India and are key players in international mega astronomy projects, including the Thirty Metre Telescope (TMT) and Square Kilometer Array (SKA), among others.

Modi said, “Be it our ancient knowledge in astronomy or modern achievements in this field, we should strive to understand them and feel proud of them. Today, our young scientists not only display a great desire to know their scientific history, but also are resolute in fashioning astronomy’s future.”

Dedicating the upcoming decade to the youth of the country, Modi also said that the interest among youths in astronomy has always been high with the planetariums in our country allowing for better understanding of the night sky, besides motivating people to develop star gazing as a hobby.

“Many people install amateur telescopes on their balconies or terraces. Star gazing can also encourage rural camps and rural picnics…and there are many such schools and colleges that form astronomy clubs, and such steps must be encouraged,” he said. Pune is also home to the country’s oldest amateur astronomy group — Jyotirvidya Parisanstha.

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