Campus connect: Radio astronomy winter school at Pune gives experimental learning experience to 30 students

Radio astronomy winter school is a joint initiative of NCRA-TIFR and IUCAA
Students of winter school learning about the four metre radio telescope at National Centre for Radio Astrophysics.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
Students of winter school learning about the four metre radio telescope at National Centre for Radio Astrophysics.(Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
Updated on Dec 21, 2018 04:29 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByPrachi Bari

As many as 30 students from across India are busy gaining hands-on experience and additional knowledge through the radio astronomy winter school which is a joint initiative by NCRA - TIFR (National Centre for Radio Astrophysics and Tata Institute of Fundamental Research) and IUCAA (Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics). The sessions are annually held in the month of December and is alternatively conducted by the two institutions. The eleventh batch of students this year have been attending sessions from December 14 which will go on till December 24.

The joint collaborative initiative was started in 2007 and the Radio Physics Laboratory has been conducting the Radio Astronomy winter schools for college students (RAWSC) from 2008 onwards.

The students of the winter school are those who are passionate about astronomy or physics. Most of them want to be part of either of the two institutions. Isha Shailesh who is studying Integrated MSc in Physics and in her third year said that she is part of the group which is experimenting at Inter University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) and has visited IUCAA for the summer course too.

Bhavesh Rajpoot is a 2nd year student of BSc with specialisation in Physics at Fergusson College and he said, “Apart from academics, the best part of being shortlisted for the course are the experiments,” said Rajput.

Poorva Bhalerao is a BTech student of computer engineering from MKSSS’s Cummins College of Engineering for women said, “This course exposes us to all branches of astronomy and is a detailed study of what is in the universe. As a child I would often look up at the night sky and wonder. Now we get to study about the higher elements out there.” Kaustav Goswami from Dibrugarh University found the course to be different from the other workshops that he has attended. “With the hands on training, it is easier to understand how to apply the theories learnt. Goswami revealed that he plans to pursue a doctorate in Radio Astronomy after which he wants to be part of NCRA. Shantanu Saha who is studying second year BTech in aerospace at IIST Thiruvanthpuram said, “Lecturers are teaching us all about astronomy besides telling us about future prospects and growth of this field.” Jameer Manur, coordinator and electronic engineer (research) IUCAA said that the winter school was co-founded by Professor Joydeep Bagchi from IUCAA and Professor Bhal Chandra Joshi from NCRA in the year 2008.

“This year NCRA has been hosting the 11th winter school for a period of 10 days starting from December 14. The school provides hands on training program for the second and third year BSc and B Tech students interested in Astronomy in general and Radio Astronomy in particular,” he said. The students are exposed to a series of lectures by eminent scientists. They also get ample opportunities to carry out simple radio astronomy experiments which in turn exposes them to new developments in radio astrophysics. The students are exposed to radio astronomy techniques, analysis and they learn to interpret from simple hands-on experiments. The students of the winter school are taken on a visit to GMRT (Giant Meterwave Radio Telescope) operated by NCRA, in which they get a see how it functions and how the data processed.

“Motivational speech and interaction with eminent scientists who are pioneers in their fields also takes place. Last year Professor Govind Swaroop , Pioneer in Radio Astronomy and founder of NCRA interaction with the students of winter school. This year, Professor Jayant Narliker, founder and former director of IUCAA will be visiting the students to guide the students on their career path,” said Jameer.

Subhashis Roy, co ordinator for radio astronomy winter school from NCRA said that it is the only programme which emphasizes on hands- on experiments.

“Majority of students who attend the winter school have gone to some of the finest premier institutes to do their Ph D. The main goal is to provide a platform for training undergraduate students of science and engineering in radio astronomy techniques and instrumentation, thereby generating enough human resources for various national facilities for radio astronomy and also for enhancing Indian participation in international radio astronomy facilities,” he said.

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