Two prestigious Pune institutes, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute and Jyotirvidya Parisanstha, have come together to offer a one-week, introductory course on ancient Indian astronomy for the general public. The short course aims to provide a functional understanding of how astronomy was practised in ancient India, around tenth century CE.
"Introduction to Ancient Indian Astronomy" will begin online on 8 February with registrations for the course opening on 20 January. It will be held via Zoom for a period of five days from 8 pm to 9.30 pm. Participants will have the choice to opt for either the English or Marathi batch; the latter will commence on 15 February.
Astronomy, astrophysics, and allied areas have enjoyed great success in recent years, so much so that three of the four most recent Nobel prizes in physics were awarded for research accomplishments in the field. As future advances promise to take us ahead in our journey of understanding the cosmos, a look back at the astronomy practices of ancient India can help us access and appreciate the Indic roots of astronomy better.
The Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute is a pioneering institute of orientology in India. It works to spread the knowledge and wisdom of the East, especially India. Along the way, it has become a treasure trove of manuscripts and rare books too.
The institute has been organising short online courses with an Indic focus for eight months now. The previous courses dealt with Indian heritage and the Vedas. Going with the theme, next is ancient Indian astronomy.
"The idea is to take these different parts of Indian heritage and make them accessible to Indian people, and by live interaction," said Chinmay Bhandari, coordinator of digital initiative at the institute.
The collaborating institute is Jyotirvidya Parisanstha, India's oldest association of amateur astronomers with a unique legacy dating back many decades, to 1944.
When it was conceived, and even for many years after, the group was among the few, if not the only one, with a focus on amateur astronomy. Ever since, JVP, as it is fondly called locally, has been engaged in teaching the ways of astronomy to the public while also carrying out field work themselves.
Jyotirvidya Parisanstha is leading the ancient Indian astronomy course with three of its members joining one member from the Bhandarkar Institute to form the four-member faculty teaching the course.
As for eligibility, Bhandari says "ample curiosity" is enough to enroll in the course.
The participants will learn how the ancients viewed and sometimes recorded planetary bodies, how India's indigenous time measurement systems worked, who the leading astronomers of the time were, what scientific instruments were used back in the day, what did astronomy inscriptions say, and more.
They will also learn how to work with a digital stargazing platform for astronomy.
The course fee is Rs 1,000. The course material will be provided by the institute, including a 90-page booklet on the basics of astronomy.
For more details, write to [email protected].
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