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For the star gazers and air wave surfers

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A useful hobby: The Ham Radio Facility set up at the Science and Technology Museum in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
A useful hobby: The Ham Radio Facility set up at the Science and Technology Museum in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.

As part of its endeavour to transform itself into a centre of ‘science in action’, the Kerala State Science and Technology Museum in Thiruvananthapuram has set up a HAM radio facility and an astronomy centre named after C.V. Raman.

The HAM centre and the C.V. Raman Centre for Basic Astronomy will be inaugurated on October 29. The new show ‘space travel’ showcasing the history of rocketry from the age of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, through Goddard and culminating in the Chandrayaan-1 will also be inaugurated at the Priyardarshini Planetarium that day.

The Museum has purchased two telescopes and a GPS-aided auto-tracking device for star-gazing at a cost of about Rs.6 lakh. “We now have the 3-inch refractor telescope and the 3-inch reflector telescope, powerful binoculars and a new 11-inch ‘CPC 1100X LT’ celestron GPS (auto tracking) device at our astronomy centre,” Museum director Arul Gerald Prakash told The Hindu on Sunday.

The Museum will offer a basic course in astronomy from the second week of November. The course will admit 25 students and will cost each student Rs.600. The course will take students through the basics of astronomy, familiarise them with the night sky, introduce them to various types of telescopes and their accessories, the celestial sphere and its coordinates.

The Museum has also readied a roof-top observatory for this purpose.

“Although astronomy may be one of the most complex and advanced of the sciences, it can also be a most fascinating hobby which can be engaged in from the moment one experiences for oneself through a telescope the thrill of discovery which Galileo must have experienced long back,” Mr. Prakash said in an email.

HAM Centre

Even though the Museum had plans, many years ago, to install a HAM radio centre at its premises the project became a reality only in May 2008 when 15 staff of the Museum and the Institute of Human Resource Development (which collaborated with the Museum to set up the HAM centre) were provided training to write the HAM radio licence examination conducted by the Wireless Planning and Coordination wing of the Ministry of Communications.

HAM radio is among the few hobbies that require a government licence. To obtain the licence an applicant has to study a course that covers the basic theories of radio communication, national and international rules related to amateur radio communication in radiotelephony and in radio telegraphy (Morse code).

The examination is held for four different categories of licence and anybody aged above 12 can get the Amateur Radio Station Operator’s licence if he or she passes the abovementioned examination, Mr. Prakash said. The equipment necessary for the HAM station were imported by the IHRD and handed over to the Museum which had prepared a separate hall for installing the devices. The setting up of the facility cost about Rs.4 lakh. According to Mr. Prakash, the Museum plans to install other HAM-related exhibits in that hall so that visitors can also get to know the basic principles of electronic communication. For now, the Museum will provide live demonstrations of HAM operations.

Soon, the Museum will offer courses in HAM so that interested persons can prepare to write the HAM radio licence examination, Mr. Prakash added.

G. Mahadevan

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