Mehbooba asks scientists to popularise astronomy in J-K

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today called upon the country’s top scientists to help popularise astronomy in the state, saying her government would wholeheartedly support any endeavour aimed at inspiring the youth towards a “relatively alien field”.

“The country’s top scientists should play their role in popularising the subject of astronomy. I will wholeheartedly support any endeavour which aims to inspire state’s young generation towards a relatively alien field,” she said.

She was interacting with a group of leading scientists from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), Bengaluru, and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, at the Civil Secretariat here.

Inviting suggestions from the scientists, she said technologies like remote sensing can help in addressing the concerns of the state, particularly in preventing disasters and reaching out to people in far-flung and inaccessible areas in the region.

She expressed interest in how astronomy and astrophysics can foster development in tourism and agriculture sectors, which have been the backbone of state’s economy, a spokesperson said.

Mehbooba also floated an idea for setting up a planetarium at Srinagar for presenting educational and entertainment shows to the students about the movement of celestial objects.

“It will also be a real attraction for tourists at night if we are able to create such a facility here,” she said.

On forging greater collaboration among IIA, IUAA and the University of Kashmir in the field of science, the spokesperson said a concrete plan for establishing an ‘Advanced Centre for Research in Observational Astrophysics’, affiliated to the Department of Physics, KU, would be submitted shortly.

G C Anupama of IIA Bengaluru explained to the Chief Minister on how J-K can take advantage of its locations to build world-class astronomical facilities, the spokesman said.

She also presented a brief report on the current status of Himalayan Chandra Telescope, a cutting-edge observatory operated by IIA at Hanle, Leh, which has emerged as one of the top five locations in the field of astronomy.

“Given the top-notch facilities available at Leh, we intend to have two more observatories at Merak and Hanle,” Anupama added.