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Masters of the sky

Madhumitha Srinivasan
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Three Std XI students created history by winning three Gold Medals at the International Astronomy Olympiad.

The champs(From left to right) Nagendra Reddy, Bhavya Choudhury and Charles Rajan
The champs(From left to right) Nagendra Reddy, Bhavya Choudhury and Charles Rajan

Look up at the night sky and what do you see? The moon and the stars, obviously. But there are some who can identify more — constellations, planets, celestial phenomenon and even tell the directions. Std XI students Bhavya Choudhury, Charles Rajan and K. Nagendra Reddy earned international honours for doing just that and more!

The trio — Bhavya (Dayanand Anglo Vedic Public School, Kota, Rajasthan), Charles (The Sanskaar Valley School, Bhopal, MP) and Nagendra (Narayana Olympiad School, Hyderabad, AP) — represented India at the 18th International Astronomy Olympiad held at Vilnius, the Republic of Lithuania, between September 6 and 14.

The International Astronomy Olympiad is an annual global scientific (astronomy) Olympiad for high school students (age 14-18), which “emphasises the role of astronomy and scientific knowledge in educational process, as well as its important role in development of modern science and progress of mankind.”

Gold quest

The boys created history by winning three Gold Medals, the highest ever for any country since the competition’s inception and the best performance by team India ever. “It is a great feeling,” said the boys echoing each other’s thoughts.

“Astronomy is like any other subject. When you understand Maths and Physics, you will appreciate Astronomy, from which in turn you will learn about optical astronomy, optics (the workings of a telescope), earth science…” explains Bhavya of the relevance of the subject.

“With so little information, you can learn about the workings of the universe. If you look back into history, before man invented the wheel or learnt to start a fire, he knew how to read the sky, using the position of the stars,” adds Bhavya sounding like a true astronomer.

Having met at various Olympiad camps and events, the trio have been friends for over two years now.

What made their experience all the more memorable was being able to interact with students from other countries.

“Through our interaction we came to know that in many countries, students are introduced to astronomy at school itself,” they reveal. They were also taken around for sight-seeing making the trip an enriching experience.

Their selection and participation was coordinated by the Nehru Science Centre, Mumbai, a unit of National Council of Science Museums, Ministry of Culture Government of India, that conducted three rounds of selection, short listing from among 25,000 students.

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