Sky Gazing

To some extent the urban population has become knowledgeable thanks to media, though they too are victims of different kinds of high-tech superstitions. However it has become pertinent to make rural population in general and rural children in particular aware of basic scientific principles which will prevent extravagant expenditure on superstitions. The rural population, which is a mix of Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes and women, needs additional efforts from all concerned to impart knowledge in science and tecnology.

Focus in Rural Areas

After realising this fact, ANS has made special efforts to concentrate on rural areas to eradicate prevailing superstitions through lectures, demonstrations and other peaceful means without hurting their sensitivities. The knowledgeable few in the villages welcome the efforts of ANS and encourages to conduct the activities in spite of their poverty and religious and traditional life style. Barring a few cities and townships, Maharashtra is still a backward state as far as scientific temperaments are concerned. The tribal districts still believe in witch craft and human sacrifice. Village women are targeted for any calamity and have to pay the price. All these things are preventable and may not need huge funds but sincere and continuous efforts of dedicated voluntary organisations.

During the implementation of Vidnyan Bodh Vahini program, it was experienced that mere a single telescope is not able to serve the purpose of sky-gazing which is very essential to eradicate superstitions like astrology, apprehension about zodiac signs, auspicious timings based on planetary movements, fatalism etc. The preliminary knowledge of origin and nature of universe, cosmology, astronomy etc is a foundation to scientific attitude. As such a need was felt to have some sort of planetarium which can reach comparatively larger audience. ANS activists contacted IUCAA and were glad to borrow their equipment for a smaller duration to assess its efficacy. A pilot program was conducted in Aurangabad. The demonstration was very successful and students were very enthusiastic about the whole show.

As such ANS has planned a program of Nabhangan Darshan (Sky Show) show for next two years by carrying the portable planetarium in the vehicle made available to ANS and reach at least 200 students of 8th and 9th class per day. The project proposal has been made to acquire portable planetarium developed by National council of Science Museum (NCSM), Kolkata and demonstrate the star and planet details through planetarium.

Program Implementation
It has been planned to carry the inflatable planetarium to a nodal school in that area which is located centrally of a village cluster. The nodal school will contact the neighbouring schools to depute students to attend the exhibition. The demo will be conducted in batches of 30 minutes for 20 students at a time from each class. Permission will be sought from education authority for releasing the students during school working hours for a specified period to attend the demo. Thus within 5 working hours 200 students can avail the opportunity to visit planetarium per day. If the strength is not adequate from that particular school, neighboring school students will be invited. The additional time available with students after/before demonstration will be utilised for poster exhibition quiz and elocution competition on which additional details about Universe are made available. The trained narrators will explain the content available inside the planetarium to these students. The demo will cover various aspects of astronomy, cosmology, planet positions, star positions, and their relevance to day-to-day life.