Learning astronomy and astrophysics

Updated: Aug 26, 2014, 16:14 PM IST

Interested in understanding of space topics? Then take up a course in Astronomy and Astrophysics says Patricia Mascarenhas

Are all stars like the Sun? The answer to this basic question has driven the field of astronomy and astrophysics for nearly a 100 years. They are among the oldest of sciences that are concerned with the study of the origin, composition and evolution of the universe on a various scales.

Like most countries, space science in India too has been growing over the years and with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) focusing on moon research and India launching the AstroSat, next year, many are showing interest in this field. “In addition to the graduate and post grad students, there are quite a good number of aspirants from high school and undergraduate level as well,” says Dr GSD Babu, director, MP Birla Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore. “Apart from this crop, we also get several people from corporate offices coming in just to learn about the stars and other topics related to this subject,” he adds.

Looking at the interest shown by students and the public in general the Bangalore-based institute is conducting a 100 hour certificate course in Astronomy and Astrophysics. “The primary aim of this programme is to inculcate scientific awareness of the subject among young students and to motivate them to pursue careers in astronomy and astrophysics,” informs Babu. It is planned to provide an in-depth exposure of the technical intricacies involved in the study of astronomy and astrophysics to students who have an aptitude for the subject. “It is also expected to set a platform for those students who would eventually pursue higher studies or research in the subject,” he adds.

The classes are being held only on Sundays until December 7, 2014. “Lectures are being conducted by scientists and professors of international repute. Topics including the stars, sun, solar system, milky way and other galaxies, space astronomy, radio astronomy, astrobiology, cosmology will be covered,” informs Babu. It also includes an exposure to the observational techniques and the usage of astronomical telescopes (X-Ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared and radio) as well as the focal plane instruments of various types of telescopes.

Speaking about her first time experience, Komala S, an astronomy aspirant, says, “I’ve always been curious about this subject and the course basically gives you a broad understanding of all that you need to know about the universe, the stars and the various visible and also invisible objects in the sky,”adding that, it satisfies the curiosity of the human mind to some extent. Krishnakumar Kowshik, second year MSC student, Jain University also agrees, “It actually adds on to our knowledge. We get hands on experience which is a stepping stone for those who wish to pursue this as a full time career.” Kowshik looks forward to enroll himself in more advanced courses post course completion.

As for job prospects, based on aptitude and other required qualifications as per prevailing regulations, those of who successfully complete the course can take up teaching positions with various educational institutions, like schools, colleges and universities, where astronomy is included as part of the science programmes.