Shooting stars

Published: Feb 28, 2020, 07:00 IST | Shunashir Sen | Mumbai

Take a peek into outer space at an ongoing exhibition of astronomical photographs in Worli

A nebula shaped like a horse head, captured by Amit Kocharekar
A nebula shaped like a horse head, captured by Amit Kocharekar

Even the sky isn't the limit when it comes to astrophotography, or the act of capturing celestial phenomena on camera. There is so much cosmic activity that keeps outer space busy that it boggles the mind to even think about it. Somewhere, there is a supernova taking place right now, meaning a dying star is exploding with such a loud bang that your ear drums would shatter if you were to hear it. Elsewhere, there's a nebula creating a giant, multi-hued cloud of dust and gas. Comets and meteors are criss-crossing each other as if they are weapons being hurled in a supernal battle. And if they find the right moment, human beings can train a camera upwards and capture all this frenetic movement in less than a second.

The Milky Way captured by Saleel Gharpure

Some such pictures are now on display at Worli's Nehru Centre, in an ongoing exhibition of astronomical photographs that people have contributed to. A few of them depict the relationship between the earth and the sky, says Arvind Paranjpye, director, Nehru Planetarium. "There is one where you have the moon rising behind a church tower. And another shows a crescent moon and Venus really close to each other, with the Gateway of India in the foreground," he says.

A picture of Rosette Nebula by Ishan Mair Wadhwan

He adds that apart from the sense of wonder that such pictures build in the viewer, they are also valuable sources of astronomical observation. Paranjpye would know. He has the honour of an asteroid he discovered with two fellow scientists being named after them. "There are also events like sun spots, photos of which are used for research, and astrophotography helps in discovering new comets, too," he says.

Arvind Paranjpye

But this show isn't for all that. The idea is to mentally transport visitors away from the confines of an exhibition hall to a galaxy far, far away. There is a photo of the Milky Way in which it seems that there is a black slit in a sky full of glittering stars. Then there is one where a nebula forms a cloud shaped like a horse's head. All the photos on display highlight how, as a species, we are such a minuscule part of the universe that there isn't much difference between us and amoeba, really. They highlight how we are all just fleeting visitors on a planet that is likely to survive long after the human race is extinct.

TILL March 2, 11 am
AT Nehru Centre Art Gallery, Lotus Colony, Worli.
CALL 24932667

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