An astronomical adventure

The Nehru Planetarium in New Delhi is famous mainly because of two attractions: the panoramic sky theater which is attended by 200,000 visitors every year and the space suit of cosmonaut Rakesh Sharma who was the first Indian citizen to travel in space.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog

I had come here many many years ago and therefore hardly remembered anything at all about this place. So it was going to be the day when I would once again awaken that good and old inquisitive child within which had remained sleeping for so long.

And in fact there were lots of other children also, little ones, big ones, dressed neatly in their distinctive uniforms, all standing in a long queue, along with their respected teachers. Even college going students my age had come for the main show and I was at least able to talk about our common interests in astronomy and astrophysics.

The sky theater show was going to start at 11.30 and I had some time on me still. So I bought the ticket and then headed towards the nearby Nehru memorial museum which was originally the residence of the first Prime Minister of India turned into a state of the art museum today and open to school students free of cost.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog

Here again there were boys and girls in uniforms of different institutions from all the corners of Delhi. Even though the museum was self-guided, the teachers nonetheless instructed their students all through the building and I tagged along and listened and learned. History better be taught in this practical manner this was totally worth it.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog
Nehru and his mother in Kashmiri dress

I returned to the planetarium building just in time, presented my 80 Rupees ticket at the entry gate, picked up the best seats along with other people and we all eagerly waited for the film to begin. The chairs in the theater rivaled those of Pewdiepie's "but can you do this?" fame. It was as if we all laid on the grass and observed in silence the beautiful chaotic night sky. The movie was quite informative as well.

The topic today was solar system and exploration. The film ended at around 12.20 p.m. and if you ask me I'd say it could have been made longer. No doubt there already was lots of facts and history in the film but still more was missing such as the successful 2013 Mars mission Mangalyan. I am sure the movie will get updated pretty soon. Then we exited and spent some time in exploring the gallery.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog

There also was a simulation of the phenomenon of gravitational lensing. A steel ball could be rolled through a sloping channel. It would follow a straight line path on the flattened sheet. Then with the lever pulled down the sheet was distorted and curved downwards as shown.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog

The ball would then deflect from straight path in much the same way as light is deflected by the warping of spacetime.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog
traces of the two trajectories

Apart from this physical demonstration and many others, there also was a bronze bust of the renowned Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei placed right next to his pioneering book, drawings and astronomical findings. The whole thing was lit with rich scientific history.

Then very opposite to the Galilean stall there was an automated weighing scale on which one could comfortably stand and measure his or her weight on the earth and on any other planet of the solar system.

delhi nehru planetarium latest blog

Then I ate my lunch sitting on the green ground in front of the memorial museum and casually posted some pictures on the social media. Overall the trip was completely worth it with a little bit of everything – entertainment, history, science, politics and philosophy.

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