Reach for the stars

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Here’s your chance to get star-struck. ‘The Talking Sky’, a session on constellation mythology, folk tales, star science and more, will be held on March 5 at Reis Magos Fort, Verem. NT KURIOCITY gets you the details

ANNA FERNANDES | NT KURIOCITY

Since the beginning of time, man has looked to the sky to decipher the seasons, to navigate the vast oceans, and to decide the best time to plant their crops. But today, as the stars move across the night sky people of the modern world have little time to look up. In a bid to revive the connection between us and the cosmos, Reis Magos Fort along with Thus is all set to present ‘The Talking Sky’ with Satish Nayak on March 5, 7 p.m. onwards.

The main objective of ‘The Talking Sky’ is to get the people of Goa acquainted with the wonders of astronomy, says Nayak, president of the Association of Friends of Astronomy (AFA) Goa. He adds that AFA has in the past hosted several sky-gazing programmes at Reis Magos Fort. “The upcoming programme will be bigger and more exciting and will include constellation mythology, folk tales, star science and more followed by a sky observation session,” he says.

“Astronomy is how our ancestors made sense of the world around them. Now the only thing we are connected to is our cellular devices,” he laments, adding that he believes we would be much happier if we connected back to the universe. “We are part of astronomy and astronomy is part of us,” says Nayak, who has been involved in the field of astronomy for the past 24 years.

There’s a fine line between astronomy and mythology, he says. “As children we read stories of fantasy and fairytales. Astronomy takes you into a world of wonder, of warriors and kings, and damsels and lions.” As part of the presentation, Nayak will briefly address the evolution of civilisation, from mythology, to astrology and to astronomy.

He will also narrate the story of the 12 constellations and introduce people to the 13th constellation. “The Sumerians gave the world astrology by mapping the stars into 12 constellations. However, as we advance in science we learn new things that they weren’t aware of, for example, the 13th or forgotten constellation of the zodiac,” he says, adding that astronomy is a science as well as an art. “As a pure science, astronomy involves observation, research studies, astrophysics, etc. But as this is an entry-level audience, the programme will focus on the arts side. We will discuss stories, names of stars and how to observe the night sky,” he says.

“Now in cities we are facing a great epidemic of light pollution that has wiped away the entire heritage of astronomy. We want to spread awareness, we want people to be excited to look out at the night sky and observe the stars when they’re away from the hustle and bustle of the cities,” he adds.

Participants can look forward to an evening of learning and sky gazing, he says. “We will also catch a glimpse of the Orion Nebula, the birthplace of stars which can only be seen through a telescope,” he says,  “Astronomy is a beautiful pastime and can be pursued by people of all ages. This is a golden opportunity for people to get into astronomy.”

Those interested in further pursuing astronomy as a hobby will be welcome to join in the other activities organised by AFA. ‘The Talking Sky’ would thus act as a precursor to a series of initiatives to promote astronomy in Goa.

Nayak reveals that next year, Goa will be the first state to introduce astronomy as a subject to class nine students as part of the Goa Board syllabus. “Fifty schools will be introducing astronomy as a subject on a trial basis next year. The theory of the same will be conducted in class, while practicals will be conducted during the night, with the sky as their laboratory.”

(‘The Talking Sky’ will be held on March 5, 7 p.m. onwards at Reis Magos Fort, Verem.)