Watching The Sky

Chess is my obsession and the go to activity to release the stress or escape the burden of mundane reality. But watching the sky was the obsession this week. I even got up at 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. on the same night and went out to the ground to identify the stars/constellations/planets which adorn the sky. And Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Orion, Big Dipper, Sirius have welcomed us!

Few weeks backs I decided to start looking at the sky; also a fascinating activity to introduce to my son. We had attended a Science Utsav event at Ghatkopar, few months back, where the kids and the adults were shown the Moon and its craters using a telescope. My first ever look at a telescope at the age of 41!! Unfortunately due to unclear skies no other objects were seen. But, since then I wished to explore further. So, started googling to figure out how to start. The astroviewer link gives a skymap for a particular area. Initially, just went outside and watched; also showed son the stars that were visible in the sky. We started observing with skymap’s help and Orion was the first constellation we identified. Yeah!! The skymap shows all the 4 directions so you know where to look and you can confirm with the smart compass app on the android phone. The Earth Sky site has these weekly guides which are also useful. On the evening of March 18th around 10 p.m. we identified the Big Dipper. This month, March 2016, the planet Jupiter is visible very clearly in the sky. Some photographs were taken using the smartphone but the final output was not that clear.
The smartphone also proved useful. Some android apps which were installed –

  • Smart Compass
  • Indian Sky Map
  • Start Chart – The Star Chart app proved useful; just point towards the sky and it will tell you the constellation – how cool!!
  • We have been doing this for a week…

    Update: 14/04/2016
    Finally, we, a bunch of families, spent a night under the skies on April 9th. The program was organised by Khagol Mandal. The first session was about exploring the sky where the presenter used a laser torch to point out various objects. He also gave lot of technical information about stars, temperature, supernova, nebulae etc. The children got bored and impatient as they wanted to watch the sky with telescopes. We were already tired having spent the day doing various activities at Saguna Baug. But, the three sessions with telescopes were fantastic. In each session, 2 or 3 telescopes were setup. We got to see a very prominent ring around Saturn, Jupiter, an open cluster which was full of stars, binary stars of Saptarishi – Vashista and Arundhati, Mars, a globular cluster. The sky was showing a lot more stars than we have been able to see near our place in Mumbai. Kudos to Khagol organisers! The session ended at 5 a.m.

    Fears of homeschooling

    Some of the fears which parents usually have –

    1. Socialising
    2. What if the child needs to rejoin the mainstream school (for whatever reason)?
    3. What about the college admissions?
    4. How to respond to those who keep pestering why home schooling?
    5. Role of parents – if not capable to teach even though have knowledge or capable to teach but lack of knowledge in some subjects
    6. Choose a curriculum or just explore different subjects

    The most convincing argument for unschooling

    Why should children be not sent to school and learn on their own at home? In, this article, the author says -

    Unschoolers learn just like you or I learn as adults: based on what interests them, figuring out how to learn it on their own, changing as they change, using whatever resources and learning materials they find, driven by curiosity and practical application rather than because someone says it’s important.

    In last 2-3 years, I have explored stuff which has interested me, on my own – whether it is history, philosophy, world music or maths. Even when it comes to programming, I learned most of the agile related stuff – due to intrinsic motivation of wanting to know how to do deliver working software in better and efficient way.