Five students who have been selected for a sponsored trip to Novosibirsk in Russia to view the total solar eclipse on August 1, will be felicitated at a special function at the Russian Centre for Science and Culture in New Delhi on Friday.

The students – Shivansh Chaturvedi and Kastubh Bansal from Delhi; V. Vismayaa from Tamil Nadu; and Charchit Gaur and Utkarsh Agrawal from Rajasthan – have been selected from among hundreds of applicants from Class VI to XII on the basis of an online exam that included questions relating to astronomy, science and general knowledge. The students who have been chosen for the ‘Heliodyssey-2008’ project that intends to dispel irrational fears and myths surrounding the total solar eclipse, will be in Russia from July 27 to August 2.

Organised by a non-government organisation, Science Popularisation Association of Communicators and Educators (SPACE), the project will give the students a chance to observe and study the astronomical event and work with seasoned astronomers on eclipse photography, corona and diamond ring.

Stating that ‘Heliodyssey-2008’ was aimed at dispelling the myths surrounding the celestial event, SPACE president C.B. Devgun said: “We want to inculcate the scientific temper, rational thinking and spirit of experimentation among the five selected students, who would now get a chance to represent themselves as well as their schools internationally.”

Nehru Planetarium Director N. Rathnasree, who will be the guest of honour at the felicitation ceremony, said: “It would be a once-in-a-life opportunity for the five students to not only view the astronomical event in Russia and conduct scientific experiments but also share their views with their respective schools. This would enable their school students to better understand the total solar eclipse when it visits the country next year.” Eminent scientist Yash Pal, RCSC Director Fyodor A. Rozovskiy and a number of scientists would also attend the function. Five international winners and 95 national winners will be awarded with telescopes and other prizes.

Madhur Tankha