Saturn may just not be the villain many consider it to be. The planet named after the Roman god of agriculture is often associated with one’s ill fate in certain religious beliefs. Saturn (Shani) is seen as inauspicious and a bringer of bad luck in Hindu myths and beliefs. Believers of Hindu astrology, dread the infamous ‘Shani Dosha’ (Malefic Saturn). It is believed that Shani Dosha occurs when the planet is debilitated or ill-placed in one’s birth horoscope and causes a series of misfortune to the individual. Over the years, a lot people have become overly conscious about the apparent negative effects of Saturn (Shani) and have turned a blind eye to its positives.
Many are unaware of the fact that the infamous Saturn and its orbit plays a key role in maintaining Earth’s comfortable temperatures. Any alterations to the gas giant’s orbit could cause our planet’s orbit to elongate, which would result in earth spending a part of every year outside the habitable zone. Saturn might just be doing more good to us, than we think.
Saturn was selected as the theme for 2019 edition of Global Astronomy Month. Kozhikode Planetarium hosted its 3rd edition of the Malabar Star Party on 26th April as a part of the ‘Global Astronomy Month 2019’ celebration, an initiative aimed at bringing more awareness regarding astronomy.
“There are a lot of misbeliefs about it (Saturn). We have to show that Saturn is just another planet, it is more beautiful when you see it scientifically” said the Technical Officer and Innovation Hub in-charge of the Kozhikode Planetarium, Jayanth Ganguly.
“Many people don’t have these facilities …Not many have the privilege of viewing the starry skies in real time, even when it is extremely cloudy outside. So we try to use these facilities to help people see the constellations and planets to gain a better understanding” said Ganguly.
The event began with a talk on the recent Black Hole imaging, conducted by Manash Bagchi, the Curator and Project Co-ordinator of the Kozhikode Planetarium. Bagchi ventured into topics concerning the black hole. The talk covered topics such as what a black hole is, it’s formation, characteristics and various theories proposed regarding the same by scientists like Albert Einstein and Issac Newton. He also explained in detail the efforts gone into achieving the first picture of the black hole, in terms of the equipment used and the people involved.
The event progressed into a session explaining the various constellations known to man and how they were identified. Then followed a ‘Saturn cake’ cutting ceremony that opened the special Saturn talk conducted by Jayanth Ganguly.
He talked about the contributions to understanding Saturn by various scientists such as Galileo Galilei, Christiaan Huygens and Giovanni Cassini. Ganguly also talked about the anatomy of Saturn and its rings, the current studies being made on Saturn were also briefly mentioned.
After a short dinner break, the passionate astronomers then lead the crowd to various other activities throughout the night such as Telescope observation of Mars, Moon Mapping, a talk on deep sky objects and understanding celestial spheres, a tour of the astronomy gallery and finally, an astro film – Europe to Stars. The event was concluded following a brief feedback session held by Ganguly and Bagchi.
Kozhikode Planetarium is the only other planetarium in Kerala apart from Thiruvananthapuram.
Global Astronomy Month 2019:
The ‘Global Astronomy Month’ is an initiative by Astronomers Without Borders, a U.S. - based organisation that aims to spread astronomy across the world and bring together people with passion for the same. It is the world’s largest global celebration of astronomy.
Astronomers Without Borders was founded in 2007 by Mike Simmons and Anoushesh Ansari. They’ve sponsored events such as The World At Night (TWAN) 2009 and the IYA2009’s Global Cornerstone Project 100 hours of Astronomy.
The group organises the Global Astronomy Month every year, in April.