Know Your Stars and learn from them too

The planetarium offers many activities for children and adults.

Experience a world that is beyond our reach, yet which is brought ever so close to us, to learn, enjoy and marvel at the beauty of creation.

The large dome of the Sky theatre in the Nehru planetarium darkens, as audiences settle into their reclining seats and wait for the “sky” to be filled with stars and the Moon. On the first Sunday of every month, the Bangalore Association of Science Education allows people to learn and understand the constellations and patterns of stars and planets around planet earth, for an entry fee of Rs 30.

Dr Shylaja, the director of the programme, has been lecturing audiences of this show for over 20 years. The planetarium also conducts summer workshops for children in the city on the same topic, introducing astronomy and its various sub elements to students. The programme is conducted in the Sky theatre, and is a unique experience for all enthusiasts and lovers of stars and space.

A model of a rocket at the planetarium

Dr Shylaja walks the audience through a typical night sky, starting from 7pm in the evening, following the movements of the stars, the moon and visible planets through the course of the night, until 5 am in the morning. She names and explains countless constellations that have been identified over 2000 years, which rise and set as the earth rotates. The dome of the Sky theatre acts as a functioning, real sky, giving audiences the illusion of sitting under a sky that is filled with thousands of nebulae, solar systems and the Milky Way galaxy.

“Bengaluru experiences extreme amounts of light and air pollution, making it almost impossible to see more than a couple of constellations with the naked eye,” explains Dr Shylaja. The show generally has a lecture followed by an actual stargazing event, using binoculars and telescopes of varying intensities, to observe planets and stars that are close to the moon and which are generally visible to the naked eye. Many a times, however, that part of the programme is cancelled due to cloudy weather and rains in the city, such as what occurred today.

The building that houses the Sky theatre

According to Dr Shylaja, if you visit the planetarium on the first Sunday of every month, it is possible to trace the movements of all the planets throughout the year, and many people also become well-versed with the constellations and star patterns across the sky. Currently, the planet Jupiter is closest to the Moon, with Saturn and Mars visible around the same area. Meteor showers can often be witnessed in the sky, usually during the day, with massive meteor showers occurring for the first week of May, from the constellation of Aquarius.

The programme is enjoyed by parents and children alike, and inspires a wonderful curiosity among all watchers to know more about the stars and constellations explained by Dr Shylaja.