OBSERVATORIES IN INDIA
Every one of us has, at some point in our lives, looked up at the skies and wondered what is out there. We may have learned about stars and constellations, galaxies and nebulas, planets and comets, and so many other celestial objects and phenomena. But there has been no coherent way of observing them. For most city dwellers today, the amount of light and dust pollution we live under makes even sighting of the moon a novelty.
Every big city has a planetarium in India. But a planetarium, while it is quite an experience, is still just a recording of the night sky. Many colleges and research centres have observatories for their students, but those are usually meant for research purposes and are inaccessible to the public.
That is where Starscapes Observatories comes in. It is the first chain of observatories where anybody can visit to gets their curiosity about the universe satisfied. There are regular shows every evening where you can learn about reading the night sky, identifying objects in it, and the science behind their movements and appearances. You will get to observe the Moon, various planets, galaxies, and nebulae and even some interesting star systems, through our state-of-the-art equipment. There are shows during the day too – you will see our very own star, the Sun, through special filters that let you study its surface. And maybe, if you are lucky, you will be able to catch a sunspot or a solar flare!
WHERE ARE THE OBSERVATORIES LOCATED?
The two biggest factors affecting a stargazing experience are light pollution and dust pollution. Our Observatories are located at locations in small towns, usually near hill stations or elevated land. Such places are typically low on light, and have much clearer air than what we experience in cities and big towns. These locations also happen to be at or near popular holiday destinations, making them easily accessible to you when you are out with your family or friends.
WHAT TO SEE AT THE STARSCAPES OBSERVATORIES?
At the Starscapes Observatories, the night sky belongs to you. Each observatory has shows that last for forty-five minutes to an hour. Conducted by our resident expert StarGuides, you will spend time looking at the night sky. You will get to know about stars and constellations – identifying them, their origins, the science behind them, the mythologies we as humans built around them, and the rules governing their cycles and appearances.
You will then get to observe various celestial objects through our state-of-the-art telescopes mounted in our observatories. Depending on the time of the month or year, the night sky has various interesting objects to observe in detail. Observe the craters on the moon. Study the phases of Venus as it orbits the Sun. Look for mysterious “canals” on the surface of Mars that made humans think there were intelligent creatures on Mars. See if you can spot the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, the largest storm in the Solar System, and look for the four Jovian satellites orbiting Jupiter as bright dots. Marvel at the glorious rings of Saturn. And feast your eyes on Uranus, something which was impossible for humans to even see prior to the invention of the telescope over four hundred years ago.
You’ll also have the chance to observe nebulas such as the Orion Nebula, a large cloud in the middle of the Constellation Orion’s “belt”, a place where stars and planets are being born. You’ll also get to see the Milky Way’s nearest big neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy, which is double the size of our galaxy. Many other galaxies, nebulae, and star cluster systems can be spotted from our observatories.
During the day, you will be able to catch a glimpse of the nearest star to us, the Sun. Equipped with special protective filters, our telescopes will be perfectly safe for you to stare at the bright orange disk that you normally cannot glance at. If you’re lucky, you might be able to locate a sunspot. The even luckier ones among us will get to see a rare solar flare – a massive storm that shoots out of the Sun’s surface and is responsible for magnetic storms on the Earth.
WHAT TO DO AT THE STARSCAPES OBSERVATORIES?
Apart from the Sky Shows, the Observatories will also periodically host activities for its customers. Learn how to build rockets, and launch them with hydraulic, chemical, or mechanical power. Understand the concepts behind cameras by actually making one by yourself. Figure out how the ancients grasped the concept of time by making your own sundials.
These and many other activities will be included in our workshops that are pre-scheduled and conducted at the Observatory premises. The schedules will be intimated through our social media pages well in advance for you to plan your trips.
You can also visit the Starscapes Experience Bases that are located along with our observatories. Here, you’ll create craters on the simulated surface of the Moon, ride a Rover on the surface of Mars, and take a virtual journey through space and time in different spacecraft, thus learning about the universe.
WHAT TO TAKE BACK HOME?
Apart from the memories of an overwhelming experience, you can get a photo of yourself with the starry sky. This is a specially curated snap of yourself and your loved ones, against a stunning backdrop of a star-studded night sky. This requires the right backdrop and location, and that’s available near or at each of our observatories.
We also have a Starscapes Store, stacked with memorabilia and souvenirs that you can carry back home. You will find various models, optical tools, guides, and books on the night sky. This will also where you would want to go to in case you want to buy telescopes and binoculars. Our team will also help you if you’re interested in purchasing larger telescopes. We will help you set them up, and learn how to optimally use and maintain them.