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Matka Planetarium

Draw the evening stars on the days of the Spring Equinox, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, for the year 2009, the International Year of Astronomy. Make a Matka Planetarium with the light polluted Delhi skies and a Matka Planetarium with gaon waale skies and feel the difference!

Very happy with the trip to the Sarojini Nagar Matka market

One matka painted all black, waiting to be transformed into a planetarium dome

What an exhilirating, if strenuous activity this is! The most interesting aspect of this activity being the one to one connection this gives to anyone participating in it throughout, with each and every segment of the sky. The stars are not just something sprinkled with a brush - every one of them has a specific position in the sky at 9:00 PM on the evening of the Spring Equinox day 2009 and so much of care was taken by the participating students to place the stars as accurately as possible.

Getting started. The Horizon and Meridian are done

Kudos to Megha Arora (team leader) and the students of S.P.A.C.E. Module 3 from Our Lady of Fatima Convent School, Gurgaon, ( Teachers : Roli Singhal and Meetu Bose and students : Megha Arora, Akshat, Taniy Pahiya, Vipul, Akash, Sagarika and Mansi Chauhan) who worked so meticulously all day on a Sunday, to make the Delhi skies for March 2009. They used strings and a scale to measure and draw the horizon, splice the matka dome into segments of the sky and then draw in, the stars. I would really like to salute their team :-)

Patang ka maanjha is very useful for measurements on a spherical surface.

And now, it is time to start placing the stars

Just the few stars from light polluted Delhi skies (with a limiting magnitude of 2.5 - well, Delhi skies do get that bad, sometimes) - took them all day, as they were so meticulous in what they were doing.

Megha putting the finishing touches to Delhi's March equinox skies

The one oversight in this excercise happened from not thinking through and cautioning the students not to highlight the fainter stars with decorative star like strokes. If these decorative strokes were confined to just the brightest of stars, we would have had a more realistic looking sky. Well, this was one thing learnt from the days work :-)

When faced with a skymap with limiting magnitude of 6, it was realised that this will be a week's work - not a day's work. But, our mutual never say die spirit has decided that we will give it as many days as necessary and keep this activity ongoing over the whole of 2009, if necessary, to get the matka planetaria constructed. One matka for each season, for Delhi skies and one matka for each season, for gaon waale skies.

Children made their own matka during the NMML Bal Mela

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Page last modified on December 05, 2008, at 09:10 AM EST