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Opening Boundaries in Astronomy
Astronomy at Taj: Winter School on Astronomy-2016
Image Credit: Image by: Moses Monterroza

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Winter School on Astronomy brings nations together to pursue astronomy

A few days from now students, researchers, and professors across India and the world will come together to explore the universe we know as of now. Four day winter school in astronomy for undergraduate university students targeting aspiring astronomers or astronomy enthusiasts that are enrolled in other programs as well. In a series of lectures and hands-on workshops led by leading practitioners in the field the Winter School on Astronomy intends to instil curiosity as well as inform the students about astronomy.

A workshop on stellar clusters is also organized on the last day and show students some of the latest developments in research.

Second in series, the Winter School on Astronomy is a major development towards boundary-less astronomy education. This unconventional event is a combination of several initiatives. It is an educational event, as a winter school in astronomy for college undergraduate students. It also represents a cultural exchange and interaction between students from India and various countries. For Canadian students it represented a valuable study abroad opportunity organized by Western University's Department of Physics and Astronomy, and conveniently occurring during Reading Week at Western in the inaugural school held at Agra last year. Another goal is to bring astronomy and science awareness to the general public.

The inaugural school called ‘Astronomy at Taj’ housed about 65 students from India, representing the vast range of the country, from Jammu and Punjab in the north, Gujarat and Maharashtra in the west, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the south, and West Bengal to the east. There were 12 delegates from Western, plus their friends and spouses. There were 8 Canadian students at the event, which was open to students from all disciplines as long as they had an interest in astronomy, and these included Western students enrolled in Astronomy, Physics, Anthropology, Engineering, English, and Political Science programs. One student from Indonesia also made an admirable effort and attended the school. The 40% female student participation rate was higher than the typical North American average for Physics or Astronomy undergraduate programs. There were ten internationally renowned invited speakers, from India, Canada, Denmark, France, Japan, and the USA.

Astronomy at Taj was an attempt to see what can happen by simply bringing people together. Students from all over India, and the world, came together for a week to share this experience. It was not the scientific talks or conference lunches that made many of these students claim it was the best week of their life. What made it so special was they were able to talk with one another, share experiences and hear first-hand the different challenges in life from all around the globe.
This year with more than one hundred participants and support from the International Astronomical Union, the Winter School on Astronomy reaches closer towards a greater goal of popularizing astronomy and encouraging students to pursue astronomy.




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