star (& navel) gazing

Friday, the 19th of February, 2010 saw the elementary children in, well, their Ag, Au and Pt.

The school closed slightly early on friday – so that the upper elementary children could get back to the school later in the evening, eagerly looking forward to a night of star watching.

Now, many of these upper elementary children have been working on the ideas of the universe for quite a while. Also, the school seems to have acquired a brand new and a very fine (high resolution) astronomical telescope recently – the details of which I would find out later.

Oh well. The school had arranged for a sumptuous dinner of assorted thingies and also some fizzy beverages (or so a little bird told me, oh the horror) to help the children stay awake (I suppose) and contented. It was the first night of all these children staying in the school premises overnight and they seem to have had loads of fun – waking up and watching the skies and getting fascinated and falling asleep and pulling each other’s legs and playing, periodically and practically  the whole night.

There was a Stellarium based presentation of the skies and the constellations / stars / planets that  the children were suppose to see; the children marched up and down the new ErdKinder building drawing in the whole experience, the whole night, taking turns at the Telescope.

Of course, I had a blow by blow account lasting for an hour, about the events and things that happened that night, from my sleepy child. In my opinion, this indeed is the right time to instill that sense of awe, humility and possibilities of contemplation in the elementary children. I am glad and pleased that it happened. Thanks, nammashaale.

I could still recollect with intense pleasure, the night, when I got a chance to look at the Crab Nebula. This was more than 2 decades back, when the cities (at least, Chennai) did not  have a huge number of weepy Na vapour lamps and assorted (and assaulting) light pollutants – there was practically no Internet too, then.

One January night, a pal of mine and I, had taken my good ol’ Rajdoot motorcycle  (‘Jagaddal’ it was affectionately called then by me, in an obvious reference to the nice Ritwik Ghatak film – Ajantrik – ‘non-mechanical’) went well beyond the city of Madras – spread a mat by the side of a hillock and spent the rest of the night, nebula gazing.

It was an intensely silent sight and that whole night we were contiunally gazing at the distant pasts, across millions of light years, may be at the times when on our earth Dinosaurs were happily roaming around… Even now I get ganderbumps, when I think of that night of Naasadiya Sukta dancing in my head…

That night, we did trip the light fantastic! And oh boy, how great that experience was…


Omphaloskepticism doesnt’ even begin to describe this post, of course!

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