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Telescopic view of a celestial spectacle

A.V. Ragunathan
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Splendid SaturnA telecope installed by Tamil Nadu Ariviyal Iyakkam, on Silver Beach in Cuddalore, to watch Saturn, has attracted a large number of star-gazers —Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy
Splendid SaturnA telecope installed by Tamil Nadu Ariviyal Iyakkam, on Silver Beach in Cuddalore, to watch Saturn, has attracted a large number of star-gazers —Photo: C. Venkatachalapathy

To enable the people to have a relatively close look at the celestial phenomenon of the Saturn getting nearer to the Earth, the Cuddalore branch of the Tamil Nadu Ariviyal Iyakkam (Tamil Nadu Science Forum) has temporarily installed a telescope on the Silver Beach here.

According to S. Rajagopalan, district president of the forum, at this point of time, Saturn, in its elliptical orbital journey, would be getting closer to the Earth and would look its luminescent best. Saturn could, of course, be seen with naked eye, without any harm, if one were to set the gaze on the eastern sky after sunset or at nightfall.

But viewed through the telescope, the object would be magnified 20 times more than how it appears to the naked eye, enabling the viewing of the rings around the planet as well.

To draw an analogy, Saturn, with its encircling rings, would look the size of a cowboy hat, said Mr. Rajagopalan. However, on the first day of installation, that is on Sunday, the sky remained overcast, thus robbing the pleasure of the enthusiastic crowd to have a look at Saturn.

However, the curious onlookers did try to watch space through the telescope.

Mr. Rajagopalan said that the telescope would be there for couple of days. The forum had been encouraging star-gazing to inculcate scientific temper in students and the general public.

He said that it was a matter of grave concern that students were increasingly attracted to professional courses such as engineering and medicine. The interest on pursuing basic science courses was on the wane and, therefore, very few scientists were emerging from the region.

Therefore, only through nurturing scientific temper youth power could be streamlined in the right direction. The forum has chosen the beachfront for the purpose, to get an unhindered view of the sky and also to reach out to the maximum number of people who come to relax there during summer vacation. Otherwise, the telescope would be kept on the forum premises at Neyveli, Mr. Rajagopalan added.

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