As the world celebrates 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy, space scientists and eminent astronomers will get together at a conference on ‘Indian astronomy, ancient and modern’, at Town Hall from June 27 to 30.
Noted scientist Dr UR Rao, chairman of the governing council of the Physical Research Laboratory (PRL) and former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), will inaugurate the conference and deliver the keynote address on ‘Aryabhatta to Chandrayaan and beyond’.
The four-day event will highlight aspects of the heritage of astronomy, a science which is deep-rooted in India. The event is being jointly organised by the Indian Planetary Society, Gujarat Science Academy, Gujarat Council on Science and Technology, the department of higher education and Naranpura Vedhshala.
“There is a perception that science is complicated as it involves calculations and theorems. But this is not the case. The way students are taught science is very crucial in defining its meaning,” said Akshay Malhotra, CEO of the Indian Planetary Society. “We intend to draw the attention of students to science by means of such conferences,” he said.
Eminent scientists and policymakers including Dr Mohanbhai I Patel (DSc); Rajesh Kochhar emeritus scientist of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research; Sibaji Raha, director of the JC Bose Institute, Kolkata; Ram Sagar, director of ARIES; Govind Swarup, former centre director of NCRF, Pune; MS Raghunathan, professor of mathematics at TIFR; Dipan Ghosh; Virendra Singh, former director of TIFR; Narendra Bhandari; K Sivaprasad; S Ramadurai and JN Desai will speak at the conference on various aspects related to the main theme.
The conference will have special sessions for school and college students and teachers on the pioneering works of Ramanujan, Homi Bhabha, Sir CV Raman, S Chandrasekhar, Satyendranath Bose, Meghnad Saha, Aryabhatta, Bhaskaracharya and others. The conference will also feature the screening of a documentary film on the solar system, Einstein and Galileo, allowing students and teachers to interact with experts. “The students attending the conference will learn a lot from it. I am sure they will come in large numbers,” said Narottam Sahoo, senior scientist of Science City.
Also on the occasion, the Indian Planetary Society will present the Balvantbhai Parekh gold medal to Dr Mohanbhai Patel for his contribution to science, and the Manubhai Mehta silver medal to Deepak Bhimani and the Sohanraj Shah silver medal to Dhananjay Raval for their efforts to popularise science in India.
Moreover, Dr UN Rao will release a booklet on ‘Indian astronomy, ancient and modern’, along with special issues of Virat Surya and Kids’ Science, two science periodicals published by the Indian Planetary Society. “This will be a programme to make the younger generation aware of careers in astronomy and space science,” said Dr JJ Rawal, president of the Indian Planetary Society and convenor of the conference.