Saturday 25 January 2020

Astronomy Outreach Program at Tumkur

The Bangalore Astronomical Society (BAS) had planned an astronomy outreach session in December at Tumkur. For the first time, I volunteered for this event and I am sharing my experience.

Through astronomy outreach program, the BAS reach out to students and create awareness about Astronomy. The schools or colleges request the BAS to conduct an outreach program at their premise. The December'19 event was organised at Siddaganga college of Arts, Science and Commerce, Tumkur.

Six people represented the BAS for this event. We went on Saturday evening and setup the equipments such as telescopes and binoculars at the terrace. The college students arrived around 6pm. After a brief introduction about Astronomy and what we are going to do, we opened up the observation for students.

We had setup 3 telescopes and 2 binoculars. We pointed these, at first, towards the Moon, then Venus, and then to Saturn. The students were quite excited to see these celestial objects through these equipments. 

Since there were more than 200 students, we 6 people were looking after one equipment each to manage the crowd. The students had grouped and were interacting with us. I was bombarded with questions after questions from the curious minds. The questions were ranging from how the moon orbits around the Earth to how the nebula is formed to how the Astronauts avoid the risk of radiation during space travel. It was such an enriching experience to interact with the students. To he honest, I couldn't answer a couple of questions and I told them I don't know. Later I googled and got to know about those questions. That's the beauty of such interactions. In the process of teaching a subject to others, we also get to learn new topics.

The dinner was arranged at the college. After the dinner break, we explained the night sky showing various constellations, stars and how to do visual observation. In between the clouds were blocking the sky. We utilised that time to switch to presentation which was projected to the wall on the terrace and showcased some of the astro-photos and explained other concepts of the astronomy. There was a Q&A session as well where students asked many questions.

When the sky was clear around midnight, we also showed deep space objects such as nebula, open clusters and globular cluster. The visual observation went till 2 AM. When the thick clouds almost covered the sky, we called it off.

Overall, it was my first time as a volunteer for such events. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with students and sharing whatever knowledge I had.

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