*** star (& navel) gazing

26/08/2013

Friday saw the elementary children, well, in 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 share with you later. Wonder who gave this telescope to the school.

Oh well. The school had arranged for a sumptuous dinner of assorted thingies and also (strangely so!) some fizzy pepshitbeverages (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 building, drawing in the whole experience, the whole night, taking turns at the Telescope.

Of course,  the next day, I had a blow by blow account lasting for an hour, about the events and things that happened the previous night, from my sleepy child. Pure pleasure, what else?

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, Schoo!.

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I could still recollect with intense pleasure, the night, when I got a chance to look at the Crab Nebula with our homemade 150mm dia reflector Telescope.  This was more than 2.5 decades back, when the cities (at least, Chennai, good ol’  Madras as it was known then, in the suburb of which I grew up) did not  have a huge number of weepy and jaundiced  Na vapour lamps and assorted (and assaulting) light pollutants.

… 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 out a mat by the side of a hillock and spent the rest of the night, nebula gazing. Oh the melancholy.

It was an intensely silent night and we were up all through, till the dawn, continually gazing at the distant pasts, across millions of light years,  may be at the times when on our earth, Dinosaurs were happily roaming around…

I really miss my pal (he passed away in 1999) and, the delicately feverish gossamer glow of my akaash ganga, that was quite easily visible in those days.

But, even now I get  ganderbumps, when I think of that night of Naasadiya Sukta dancing in my head…

That night, oh boy, we did  trip the light fantastic!

And, how great that experience was…

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Omphaloskepsicism doesn’t even begin to describe this post, of course! Yeah!

JournalEntry: 20thFeb2010.

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