Mumbai does the moonwalk: Nehru Planetarium's Lunar dome opens for public viewing

Updated: Nov 22, 2019, 07:39 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

It is chaand mera dil as Nehru Planetarium's Lunar dome opens for public viewing; tribute to ISRO should ignite curiousity about space science in young minds

Picture of the Lunar Dome at the Nehru Planetarium, unveiled for public viewing on Thursday. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Picture of the Lunar Dome at the Nehru Planetarium, unveiled for public viewing on Thursday. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Mumbaikars have now wearily resigned to the familiar joke of the city's roads resembling the surface of the moon. Potholes are often caricatured as craters and social media is full of the Mumbaikar pictured as an astronaut negotiating those, only half in jest. Now as Mumbai gets a real lunar surface, citizens need to look up, and not down at the roads to witness it. The Nehru Planetarium at Worli opened up 'The Lunar Dome' on Thursday evening for public viewing.

The artists who have painted the dome, have attempted to capture the moon, and give as true a picture of the lunar landscape as possible. Artist Gulammahmad Bukhari, who is known as Sharad in the world of art, has 40 years of experience. He has worked on 500 walls all over India and made 1,000 canvases. Sharad has drawn from all of his experience for the Lunar Dome, which is painted as a doff of the hat to ISRO and Chandrayaan-2 Mission, which India can be very chuffed about.

Conversation starter

With this, the facade of the planetarium becomes the ignition for scientific inquisitiveness. It is a way to bring scientific curiousity and conversation into mainstream discourse. Arvind Paranjpye, director, Nehru Planetarium, said, "This project was started a while ago and was to be launched just after the Chandrayaan-2 mission as a tribute. Yet, sporadic rain played spoilsport and the painting could not reach completion. Yet, just like the undying spirit of ISRO, the team of these young professionals worked diligently to convert their dream into reality. It is a stand out mark of respect."

Paranjpye added, "When the project partners came to us with the idea, we said yes because we knew that anything that brings forth questions and a search for answers about lunar expeditions, needs to be encouraged. The first step of scientific exploration is to ignite young minds."

Moon mission

Hanif Kureshi, artist and creative director of St+art India Foundation, which works on the principle 'Art for All', said artist Sharad was, "One of the finest spray painters from Rajkot. We invited him to work on this structure as he specialises in creating planets and galaxies. The biggest challenge was to paint a moon on such a space and scale. We had to install over 2,500 bamboos for the scaffolding to reach the top. The rain was also a huge challenge."

There was synergy in the creation of the Lunar Dome. From the planetarium, which formed the canvas so to speak, to artists, and their medium — the paint, came together to form the product. Amit Syngle from Asian Paints called Chandrayaan 2 a "milestone in India's space journey," while Abhijit Avasthi, founder of Sideways, which calls itself a creative problem solving outfit said, "The Lunar Dome is a small gesture to thank ISRO for the pride they bring to every Indian."

For Mumbaikars, who have hummed the track 'one way ticket to the moon', there is a viewing station on the Nehru Centre premises from where they can see the dome, entry to which is free.

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