Madurai

A ‘close encounter’ with stars and planets

A student of Marudhakulam Government Higher Secondary School gazes at the night sky through a high-power telescope at the District Science Center in Tirunelveli recently.   | Photo Credit: HAND OUT

A group of 75 students of Government Higher Secondary School at Marudhakulam near here had the rare opportunity of seeing the stars and the planets closely through high-tech telescopes, thanks to the initiative taken by Collector V. Vishnu.

As the District Science Centre is organising ‘sky watching’ events every week and during special celestial events, Mr. Vishnu asked District Science Officer S. M. Kumar to organise the event for the benefit of rural government schoolchildren. And it was decided to organise the ‘sky watching’ at Government Higher Secondary School, Marudhakulam.

Led by Mr. Kumar, the District Science Centre staff organised an interactive session with the students with the help of documentaries on galaxies. “Why should we look at the sky in the night?” Mr. Kumar started the interaction that elicited a range of answers from the students and he explained the power of stars and planets that are closely associated with the events taking place on earth – mainly monsoons and other climatic changes.

The children and their parents were amazed when he narrated the joy of ‘sky watching’ by explaining the stars and the planets, the construction of ancient structures, especially the sprawling temples that would get sunlight on a particular time of the year and on a particular part of the temple with a special ‘zodiac pillar’.

During the hands-on activity session, the students were asked to prepare the clock-type model with the printed stars and planets that would usually be seen in the sky at a particular time and period.

Next came the much-awaited ‘sky watching’ event as the dusk set in. The high-power telescopes installed by the District Science Centre at Marudhakulam just thrilled around 200 people, including the children and their parents, as they had ‘close encounter’ with the Venus, Jupiter, Moon and Saturn even as Mr. Kumar and his team were explaining to them the special features of these planets.

When they happened to see the craters on the moon’s surface so closely, the children were just carried away by its beauty.

“I’m sure that event has ignited the children’s curiosity about space, stars, planets, etc.. and their scientific attitude. If a couple of children from this bunch decide to pursue a programme in astrophysics, it is the success of this event. So we’ve planned to organise more such events for rural children,” said Mr. Kumar.


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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 6:30:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/a-close-encounter-with-stars-and-planets/article36653567.ece

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