Centre to encourage star-gazing in small towns, build planetariums | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Centre to encourage star-gazing in small towns, build planetariums

They may have a pristine night sky dotted with stars but not the means to gaze beyond what the naked eye can see, reports Snehal Rebello.

mumbai Updated: Apr 12, 2010 01:41 IST
Snehal Rebello

They may have a pristine night sky dotted with stars but not the means to gaze beyond what the naked eye can see.

Now, children from towns such as Solapur and Siliguri will have the opportunity to watch a solar eclipse through a telescope and learn about space and astronomy in planetariums close to their homes.

The National Council for Science Museums, Kolkata, is setting up low-cost planetariums in many towns. The first 55-seater planetarium was opened in Siliguri on April 3.

By August, the country will have three more — at Dharampur in Gujarat, Gulbarga in Karnataka and Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. Planetariums in Goa, Pondicherry, Assam, Sikkim and Solapur are in the pipeline.

“Small towns are the real catchment areas for astronomy,” said Piyush Pandey, director, Nehru Planetarium, Mumbai.

“India will need scientific manpower. Our effort to enthuse young minds is a step towards encouraging them to pursue a career in space sciences and astronomy,” said G.S. Rautela, director general of the Council.

Rautela added children in small towns are interested in astronomy but have no access to planetariums.

Small planetariums cost less than Rs 1 crore, while a large planetarium could cost between Rs 5 crore and Rs 8 crore.