Skywatch at Sultan Battery in Boloor Explores Significance of Ugadi
Mangaluru: The occasion was organized by the Amateur Astronomers’ Association, Mangaluru, at the historical rampart of Sultan Battery, at nightfall on Monday, April 4.
The Sultan Battery – more often than not misspelt and mispronounced as Sultan Baththeri – is a 1784 edifice, reputedly built by Tipu Sultan of Mysuru on the bank of quiet-flowing river Phalguni, in order to keep track of enemy attacks from the sea.
It attracts a lot of tourists and visitors for the simple reason of its historical interest and serene surroundings it presents. The view of the river, the Tannirbavi, and Bengare sandpits naturally provide the visitors’ eyes a scenic feast.
But the skywatch on Monday added another reason for enthusiastic crowds to gather to listen to Prof Jayantha, head of the department of Chemistry at St Agnes College, Mangaluru, on the minute details of the planetary combinations and movements of constellations.
It was held with a view to helping the public in general, the star-gazers in particular, to understand the relevance of celestial changes taking place after the sunset on the western horizon, relating to festivities of Ugaadi, the lunar new year day observed in this part of the country.
Ugaadi – literally meaning the beginning of an era – occurs on the day when the length of daytime and night-time are equal. But Ugaadi is observed on different days in different regions, depending on different faiths and creeds.
He prevailed on the need for a change in the mindset of the people based on new scientific discoveries and highlighted the necessity to develop a scientific temper and bent of mind.
He also dealt with other related matters like the position of various other planets and stars in relation to orbits of different heavenly bodies.
The skywatch attracted a good number, students in particular. But the mild overcast played the spoilsport, with the Jupiter playing hide-and-seek with clouds hovering over.
The state-of-the-art telescope set up at the spot provided the gathering an idea of what exactly the instrument meant and how it worked, as some of them appeared to be seeing it for the first time.
Prof Jayantha answered all the questions thrown at him with utmost patience and with authority. He will repeat his awareness camps at the Sultan Battery on April 5 and at the Vardhaman Shetty estate in Gurupur in the evening and the next sunrise.
Prof Jayantha has been conducting awareness camps of this kind, spending a lot of his personal time, resources, and energy during the past years, without expecting anything in return.
His past camps, especially at the time of eclipses, are known for his deep concern to dispel false beliefs that are associated with these natural phenomena which have been occurring for times immemorial.
Another event of this kind is being planned for the first week of May.
by Richard Lasrado