A piece of sky
A school in Dadar is home to a full-dome mobile planetarium this week to let city kids in on the secrets of the universe
I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day," a voiceover paraphrases Vincent Van Gogh's famous quote in Hindi, referring to the Dutch artist's ruminations on the night sky studded with celestial wonders. The visuals support the narration and show a young boy sprawled about on the grass, gazing at the sky. As if on cue, the kids watching the show, too, decide to make the most of the full dome projection they are seated underneath, and lie on their backs to learn about the Great Bear constellation, North Star and Milky Way.
We are at the IES School in Dadar's Hindu Colony, where a mobile planetarium has been set up for the course of this week. The screening is part of a film festival for children under the Sky-On-Wheels project, where 14 shows on themes ranging from astronomy, archaeology, biology, earth science, natural and ancient history, are being projected on an inflatable planetarium in order to make scientific concepts more accessible to children. With shows in Hindi, Marathi and English, eight such screenings are organised every day.
The inflatable planetarium can accommodate 35 kids
"We have taken this project to the north-east, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and the interiors of Maharashtra. This is, however, the first time we have set it up in Mumbai because the city already has the Nehru Planetarium," says Abhijit Shetye, managing director of Infovision, a city-based company speacialising in digital planetarium shows in India. The idea of a mobile set-up, he informs, came to fruition at the behest of renowned astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar, who was keen on taking science to children. While the response, Shetye says, is positive in other cities, having a planetarium with a curated film festival in their neighbourhood is an exciting prospect for Mumbaikars, too. As he informs us about the project, we see parents walk in to make enquiries, call up their kids to check which show they would like to watch, and buy tickets.
The films — Cosmic Life, the story of a boy who wants to be an astronomer; Dinosaurs at Dusk, about a father and daughter who share a fascination for all things that fly; Invaders of Mars, made under the supervision of Emmy award-winning space artist, Don Davis, on the ongoing exploration of Mars, among others — have been scripted by the Nehru Planetarium and planetarium show exhibitors from the US and Netherlands.
Inside the dome, there is pin-drop silence. For 13-year-old Aryan Singh, who has a keen interest in science and has been to the Worli planetarium, the show Cosmic Life is more of a revision. But it's "informative and interactive" nevertheless. The humidity seems to get to the parents accompanying the kids, for the cooler doesn't do much to combat the heat. But beads of sweat mean nothing to the little ones, who have stars, supernovas and galaxies for company on a Tuesday afternoon.
TILL May 31, 10 am to 5 pm
AT IES School, Gate no. 2, Dadar East.
Entry Rs 50 to Rs 120
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