BENGALURU : Astronomy buffs from across the city have been thronging the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium since Thursday to take part in various events being organised as part of the Khagola Utsav-2019, 100 hours of astronomy, which will end on Sunday.
The festival features exhibits on the evolution of astrophysics over the past century with photographs taken by amateurs as well as missions by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). In addition, there is also an exhibition on telescopes to help those interested in astronomy gain insight into star gazing. For those who choose to stay back, the evenings bring with them a sky observation exercise to hone star gazing skills.
“We are seeing a lot of students visiting the planetarium to participate in the Utsava. Members of the general public are also coming and we expect to see many more over the weekend,” said an officer working at the planetarium. The weekend will bring a series of lectures open to the public that will be held on Saturday and Sunday. The topics which will be discussed are Indian astronomy and Winter Solstice or Uttarayana. “These lectures will be open to all and anyone can attend,” the officer said.
In addition, the planetarium is also conducting several workshops for students. These include a one-day workshop on day time astronomy for high school students and a three-day programme for talks about the universe in the class room.
“With so much light pollution, it is a great chance for someone new to learn the basics and they can then join several groups that venture out of the city to better places when celestial events occur,” said Rohit Tewari, an amateur astronomy enthusiast.
Let there be (less) light
Bengaluru offers its residents many facilities, but often, this comes with a price. Illuminated facilities have caused light pollution to increase in and around the city. Scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium find it difficult to observe planets and constellations from the campus.
They travel to locations away from the city, such as Gauribidanur, part of Chikkballapur district, which is located 75 km from Bengaluru. Kanakpura Road, Nala Mangala near Mandya district and Dodaballapur districts are also often visited. During their workshops, the museum officials often visit Gauri Bidanur, as the visibility offered there is better.
On the first Sunday of every month, the planetarium conducts a one-hour session in the evening, where they turn off all the lights at the centre and allow the public to observe stars from the telescope. “Switching off lights for an hour will help you enjoy the natural moonlight, and this will help control the situation,” explained Pramod G. Galgali, director of Bangalore Association for Science Education (JNP).