Mehbooba Mufti watches Mercury’s transit of the Sun

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti today watched a rare celestial event, Mercury’s transit of the Sun, at the University of Kashmir (KU) here.

Because of cloudy weather, she watched the event through live transmission.

President, Astronomical Society of India, Prof Ajit Kembhari, explained the spectacle to the Chief Minister, which occurs only when the Sun, the Mercury and the Earth are lined up in one plane.

This occurs only a dozen or so times in a century and will occur next in 2032, Kembhari said.

The Chief Minister was also briefed about the need to set up a centre of astrophysics in Kashmir University for popularising the culture of exploration and inculcating scientific thinking among aspiring students, an official spokesperson said.

Education Minister Naeem Akhter floated the idea of introducing astrophysics as a subject at undergraduate level while Vice Chancellor of the University, Prof Khursheed Iqbal Andrabi, underlined the need for setting up an observatory in Kashmir to help promote astronomy as a subject, he said.

Mufti presented a telescope to a group of young girl students.

Director of Indian Institute of Astrophysics Prof Sree Kumaar, Secretary ASI Prof D Banerjee, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Ahmed Lone and Director School Education Shah Faisal were also present on the occasion.