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A Journey through the Sky: Planetarium program at school

Yes­ter­day I had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to inter­act with stu­dents of Chan­drakan­thi Pub­lic School on Astron­o­my and Indi­an Sci­ences. The work­shop was a jour­ney through our awe­some galaxy and beyond. The sky has always fas­ci­nat­ed me with the thou­sands of stars sprin­kled all around. On one lev­el the stel­lar arrange­ment looks com­plete­ly ran­dom but on anoth­er lev­el one can notice clear cut pat­terns as one moves from one con­stel­la­tion to anoth­er. With mod­ern soft­ware tools like Stel­lar­i­um and Google Sky Map, star watch­ing becomes all the more intrigu­ing. In the work­shop, we trav­elled through the var­i­ous con­stel­la­tions of stars, the path of the moon, the path of the sun, the mys­ter­ies of eclipses.

In many of my ses­sions, stu­dents ask me about astrol­o­gy and astron­o­my. To make it more rel­e­vant to youth of today, I help them chart the horo­scope of a per­son born at that moment, using Google sky map. It cre­ates a cer­tain “wow” because they under­stand that a horo­scope is not an archa­ic irrel­e­vant doc­u­ment but some­thing real­time. A horo­scope is a pre­cise record­ing of time and place of birth. If we have to nar­rate an inci­dent to some­one and give the exact details, how would we do that? We would say that the inci­dent hap­pened in a spe­cif­ic place, at a spe­cif­ic time of the day and we would also prob­a­bly describe the objects and peo­ple in the envi­ron­ment. The lim­i­ta­tion with such a ref­er­ence is that we are refer­ring to tran­sient things which are not valid after a cer­tain point in time. Sup­pose you said “I met my friend on Sun­day at 4.00pm near the red maru­ti car on 1st street”. If we were to record this state­ment in his­to­ry, we may have to give details which make this valid even after many num­ber of years. Hence horo­scope depict celes­tial phe­nom­e­na that repeat peri­od­i­cal­ly and hold true for many num­ber of years. It is a fan­tas­tic map that is record­ed to a great lev­el of pre­ci­sion based on repeat­ing pat­terns of stel­lar arrange­ment. Broad­ly speak­ing, a horo­scope details the posi­tion of the moon, sun and var­i­ous plan­ets with respect to the var­i­ous con­stel­la­tions (many more minute details are also avail­able. We shall skip those for brevi­ty).

Through these work­shops, we not only look at the chart­ing of the horo­scope but also dis­cuss how the var­i­ous celes­tial bod­ies impact us. The pro­gram is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to under­stand the great work of our Rishis who have mapped the sky thou­sands of years ago (I woud­n’t say “with­out sophis­ti­cat­ed technology”..as they had much more sophis­ti­cat­ed tech­nol­o­gy than we prob­a­bly know) how the micro­cosm and macro­cosm are close­ly inter­twined.

A Video of my online talk on Indi­an Astron­o­my is below


-Adi­narayanan

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