In late March, the Goa Science Centre and Planetarium organised a night sky observing activity that attracted both locals and tourists. The event, which took place on Miramar Beach near Panaji, featured portable telescopes that allowed attendees to observe celestial objects. While the activity may have seemed unremarkable, it was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for its promotion of India’s rich heritage in astronomy.
The Goa Science Centre and Planetarium is a member of the National Council for Science Museums, which seeks to foster scientific awareness and promote the growth of science and technology in industry and human welfare. The night sky observing event has the potential to encourage astro-tourism in various locations, including Ladakh, the Thar Desert, the Aravali ranges, the Himalayas, and along the Eastern and Western Ghats. Stargazing, solar observations, and experiential learning opportunities could attract amateur astronomy enthusiasts, curious tourists, and school and university students.
In addition, astronomy observatories operated by the Department of Space, the Department of Science and Technology, and the Department of Atomic Energy may open more frequently for public outreach. These developments come at a time when the Union Territory of Ladakh has become home to India’s first Dark Sky Reserve, established in December 2022. The Ladakh administration is currently setting light pollution prevention protocols for several villages within the Changthang Wildlife Sanctuary, including Hanle, Naga, Khuldo, Shado, Punguk, and Bhok.
It is possible that similar dark sky reserves could be established in other parts of India. The National Council for Science Museums can help raise awareness of light pollution hazards and the importance of taking preventive measures. The Council’s efforts can play a significant role in spreading scientific awareness and promoting general awareness among people.