International Year of Astronomy 2009

International Year of Astronomy 2009

Total Solar Eclipse 2009

Outreach Programmes

It is desirable that the citizens of the world rediscover their place in the Universe through the day and night time sky, and thereby engage a personal sense of wonder and discovery. It is important that all human beings realise the impact of astronomy and basic sciences on our daily lives, and understand better how scientific knowledge can contribute to a more equitable and peaceful society. This is why the United Nations in its 62nd General Assembly proclaimed 2009 as the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), with the central theme “The Universe, Yours to Discover”.

With the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) we celebrate a momentous event, the first astronomical use of a telescope by Galileo, an invention that initiated 400 years of incredible astronomical discoveries; and pay homage to one of the greatest of scientists. Indeed, Galileo’s telescope triggered a scientific revolution which has profoundly affectedour world view. “Pure logical thinking”, Einstein once wrote, “cannot yield us any knowledge of the empirical world; all knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it. Because Galileo saw this, and particularly he drummed it into the scientific world, he is the father of modern physics – indeed of modern science altogether.”

In each participating country, the IYA 2009 activities will take place locally, regionally and nationally. Vigyan Prasar has chalked out an ambitious campaign with production of a 52-episode radio serial in 19 Indian languages including English, to be broadcast from over 100 stations of All India Radio, and a 26-episode television serial on astronomy along with publications and development of a variety of software; and training programmes at different levels. An important part of the campaign would be activities built around the total solar eclipse of 22 July 2009 which would be visible in India. While celebrating this event we should be guided by the spirit of adventure and questioning that had motivated Galileo, says Professor Jayant V. Narlikar.

The details of the activities undertaken/ to be undertaken by Vigyan Prasar as part of its outreach campaign are given below.

1. Outreach Programmes: International Year of Astronomy 2009

1. Radio Serial on Astronomy
Production and broadcast of a 52 - episode radio serial on astronomy in 19 major Indian languages including English. The programme would be simultaneously broadcast from 117 stations of All India Radio throughout the country from January/February 2009. The work on this project has already begun.
2. Television Serial on Astronomy
Production and telecast of a 26 episode television serial on astronomy in Hindi. The programme would be telecast from the National Channel of Doordarshan on Sunday morning in the slot 0900-0930 hrs. Later, the 26 episodes would be dubbed into 12 major Indian languages and telecast from the regional Doordarshan Kendras (TV Stations) through regional network of Doordarshan spread in the country. The work on this project has already begun.
3. Publications
Publication of about 10 titles at popular level on various topics of astronomy in English and Hindi. These titles would be translated into other Indian languages later on.
4. Activity Kit
Development of a low cost activity kit-cum-educational package containing 25-30 activities on basic aspects/phenomena of astronomy. The activity kit would be brought out in English and Hindi. This has already been developed, and contains a safe solar-viewer.  
5. Demonstrations
Lecture / demonstrations on various aspects of astronomy in association with Scientists / organizations working in the field of astronomy / astrophysics.
6. Training
Training programmes for resource persons from different regions / states of India. The trained resource persons would in turn train more communicators in their states / provinces, deliver talks and conduct activities on popular aspects of astronomy. This programme would be organized in collaboration with government / non-government organizations engaged in science / astronomy popularization.
7. Workshops
Telescope making workshops would be organized in different parts of the country.

 2. Outreach Programmes: Total Solar Eclipse 2009

At School Level
Lectures / demonstrations, quiz / essay /elocution competitions,at district / state levels, and a few simple projects.
The first three winners at the state levels would win a trip to the belt of totality at a suitable place, to watch the eclipse as a prize. 
Thematic charts, posters, activity packages, booklets, and audio / video programmes on different aspects of the eclipse would be produced for the purpose.
6-8 regional workshops-cum-training programmes on telescope making would be organized, each region representing 3-4 states. In each workshop, 20-25 telescopes would be fabricated. The telescope fabricated would be utilized to observe the eclipse and initiate astronomy activities in respective schools.
At Public Level
Lectures / demonstrations, exhibitions, and preparation / dissemination of posters and booklets on various topics.
Articles in newspapers and magazines, booklets on specific topics
Production of radio / television programmes; and their broadcast / telecast
Conscious attempts to be made to encourage people to observe the eclipse with necessary precautions
Address unscientific beliefs/superstitions associated with eclipses and other astronomical phenomena.

Specific Efforts
Utilizing Vigyan Prasar Network (VIPNET) of Science Clubs – 8,000 clubs, mostly in rural areas
Astronomy Cubs in schools
Organization special activities for VIPNET clubs
Distribution Activity kits on Astronomy / TSE 2009
Amateur Radio - Study of propagation of HF / VHF radio waves

Live Telecast / Webcast
An unique feature during TSE 1995 was the live telecast of the event by Doordarshan. This was a result of the close collaboration of VP and Doordarshan. This time too, VP would collaborate with Doordarshan to bring the entire event live on television sets in every home.
Webcast of the entire event on VP’s website


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