Published: 20th February 2020
These 60 kids are falling in love with astronomy at BMBSC. Do you know how?
BM Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad is playing host to students from across India for their annual Winter School on Astronomy that will conclude on February 21, 2020
All those students who aim to reach for the stars, quite literally, to pursue a career in Astronomy or just want to understand the cosmos better are a part of the ongoing Winter School on Astronomy being conducted at BM Birla Science Centre in Hyderabad from February 16 to 21. The fourth edition of the five-day camp is being attended by 60 space enthusiasts selected carefully from over 700 applicants. "We just want to offer a platform where students get to know about high-end Science and what's actually happening in the field," says Pranav Sharma, Scientific Officer and Curator of the Space Museum. What this school does is effectively combine talks with hands-on workshops which gives the participants, who are senior undergraduate and postgraduate students, a clear path that they could take towards Astronomy. Students are participating from across India and care was taken to ensure a gender-balanced ratio; students from Tier II and III cities were given preference.
Scenes from the school in 2016 | (Pic: Winter School of Astronomy)
Another point to note about the school is that students from diverse backgrounds and an inclination towards Astronomy were selected. "Interdisciplinary studies need to be encouraged and students should understand that disciplines don't have any borders," says the three-time winner of the REX Karmaveer Chakra Award. Especially with the advent of Computer Science and Big Data, everything has changed, he asserts.
"A mixed bag of students from different fields bring different perspectives to the table," says Pranav Sharma
What was new this year is a workshop on Computational Astrophysics was conducted by Kausahl Sharma and Kaustubh Vaghmare of IUCAA. These senior scholars conducted this workshop which was the highlight of the school in which Prof Ashish Mahabal, an astronomer and Lead Computational and Data Scientist at the California Institute of Technology delivered an inaugural lecture. In fact, this was what this year's session started with on February 16. On February 17 was a talk on Big Data and Deep Learning in Astronomy and Biology by Prof Ajit Kembhavi, Professor Emeritus at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, that was also the need of the hour, as per the 27-year-old. On the last day, a talk on 'New Insights and Challenges in Probing our Nearest Star: The Sun' by Prof Siraj Hasan, former Director of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bengaluru, will enthrall the participants.
Pranav Sharma | (Pic: Winter School of Astronomy)
The response, needless to say, is exceptional. Many discussions, including off-stage ones, are going on wherein experts from academia and students were seen engrossed in intense talks. "This offered a great chance for the senior academicians to interact with students, something that they don't get to do on a regular basis," says the Agra-born curator. Pranav asserts that the scope of Astronomy in India is expanding and students can make the most of it if they wish. "With projects like the CERN collaboration and the Thirty Meter Telescope that India has taken on, youngsters interested in the field have enough to look forward to," he says and concludes.
Other interesting sessions:
- The Exciting World of Neutrinos by Prof Sanjib Agarwalla from Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar
- Exhibition on various sizes of kytoons (kite balloons)
- The Romance of Astronomy by Pranav Sharma, Curator of the Space Museum
- Twenty Five Years of Exoplanets: What Have We Learned So Far? by Prof Manoj Puravankara, TIFR, Mumbai
Scenes from the previous schools
For more on them, visit: astrowin19.wixsite.com/astrowin20