Observing astronomical laboratory

Observing astronomical laboratory

Observing astronomical laboratory

What could have been the better celebration of World Heritage Day than taking the young ones around historical Jantar Mantar, right in the heart of the City? This 300 years old astronomical laboratory has four yantras or instruments which were built to know the position of the Sun, the moon in the ancient times.

Science NGO, SPACE along with Archeological Survey of India, organised a heritage walk around Jantar Mantar for school students to encourage them to enjoy and protect heritage sites around. Approximately 70 students of different schools participated in this walk, enjoying the architectural wonder.

International Monuments and Sites Day has been traditionally called the World Heritage Day. The day aims to encourage people enjoy and protect heritage sites around. With this sprit, CB Devgun, President, SPACE, acted as an educational guide to the students who attended the scientific walk at Jantar Mantar.

Other than students, young astronomy enthusiasts, tourists and general public also participated in this event. Devgun demonstrated and discussed the working of the ancient instruments; Samrat Yantra, Misra Yantra, Ram Yantra and Jai Prakash Yantra. Built by Maharaja Jai Singh II of Jaipur, Jantar Mantar rests in Connaught Place since 18th century. However, only a handful of people know of it as an
astronomical observatory.

“Samrat Yantra, the largest and the most imposing one among the four, was used to measure the accurate time of the day and motion of the Sun in the sky. The yantra was used as a Sundial to determine the time using position of the Sun and its shadow on the yantra,” he informs.

Jantar Mantar, meaning instrument and formula, is one of the five similar astronomical observatories built by Maharaja Jai Singh. Besides Delhi, it was also built in Jaipur, Varanasi, Ujjain and Mathura. “Jantar Mantar in Jaipur has been maintained very well. More or less it is similar to the one in Delhi except that the Jaipur observatory has some more yantras,” says Devgun.

Participants were shown how Samrat Yantra can be used as a giant sundial to tell time. They were also shown how Ram Yantra and Jai Prakash Yantra have two separate complementary structures so that the ancient astronomer could step inside the instrument and do their measurements. The participants were excited to find out how ancient astronomers studied the motions of the sun, moon and planets without the help of any high tech satellites or telescopes, and told time without any clocks.

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