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Astronomy course at planetarium

Guwahati, Dec. 6: Lessons on the solar system and Milky Way will feature in the co-curricular activity list of students this winter vacation.

The Pragjyotish Amateur Astronomers’ Association in association with Guwahati Planetarium will conduct a basic astronomy course for students to inculcate an interest for the stars and planets and also help them stay connected to the cosmic world.

“The course at the planetarium will be open for all students. Besides, any one interested can undertake the course to be held every alternate day for a month (during the winter vacation) initially and over the weekend thereafter,” U.N. Deka, secretary of the Pragjyotish Amateur Astronomers’ Association, told The Telegraph.

The Assam Science Society had conducted a similar course at the planetarium back in 1997 till it fizzled out after a couple of years after the society shifted from a rented accommodation near the planetarium at Uzan Bazar to its own premises at Khanapara.

“This time we intend to make this a continuous process. The Pragjyotish Amateur Astronomers’ Association had approached us for the course and thereafter we had sent a proposal to the state government for approval. As of now, we are awaiting the go ahead. Hopefully, we should be able to start the course by mid-December,” Babul Bora, curator of the planetarium, said.

The topics to be covered include introduction to the solar system, life cycle of stars, Milky Way, meteors, phases of the moon, stellar magnitude (which is a measure of the brightness of a celestial body), telescopes and binoculars in astronomy, cosmology, eclipses and constellations.

The training method for the course will be audio-visual. “Besides, theoretical lectures on astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology will be conducted through movies, video clips and power point presentations. Lecturers from Gauhati University and Tezpur University apart from staff at the planetarium will conduct the course,” Bora said.

Space science to impart knowledge about communication satellites and practical training on the use of telescope through sky observation in the evening will also be part of the course. The participants will be taught on how a sundial (a device that tells the time of day by the position of the sun) is made and how the altitude of celestial objects in the sky is measured.

“There is no financial involvement on the part of the planetarium and participants will only be charged a nominal fee,” he said.

COSMIC CONNECTION

The Guwahati Planetarium, operating under the state science and technology department since 1994, is a one-of-its-kind centre of astronomical research in the Northeast.

The planetarium is equipped with a Japanese hybrid projection system.

The state government has approved the proposal for a Rs 38 lakh astronomical gallery and a Cassegrain telescope.

The planetarium currently conducts three shows with an average daily footfall of 600 during the peak season.