“Touch of the Universe” activity led in India

A report of activity from a recipient of the “Touch of the Universe” kit, Divyadarshan Purohit from India

“It was very keen demand for a long time for useful system with help of which we can show the sky to the visually impaired. The IAU-OAD & University of Valencia have recently developed a specially designed kit for the visually impaired which was gifted to Gurudev Observatory with the help of Dr. Amelia Ortz-Gil (UDV, Spain), including custom duty. This is the very first kit for India for our project “Aavo Chhule Aasmaan” (Let us touch the sky ).
 
Sessions:
My family and I have started special sessions for the blind under our project “Aavo Chhule Aasmaan” . We have conducted three session with very grand success. The sessions took place at:
 
(1) Blind girls school where 40 girls are studying from 1 to 10th std. This was a very fruitful session. The girls asked about how to become astronauts, about the International Space Station (ISS), the procedure to be an astronomer/cosmologist, climate change and global warming or lightening and rainbow phenomena. They differentiated the phase of waning and waxing moon by touching the Tactile moon map. They were amazed to learn that moon is a globe just like Earth and were surprised to know about sun, sunspots, galaxies & hot gas at various wavelength.
 
(2) Blind association where 12 blind men were with us. They were interested in learning about the Solar system & moon.
 
(3) A planetarium with 150 visually impaired men & women.
 
Media coverage
As usual both print & electronic media help us tremendous by giving continuous news of the sessions. One of the Leading Newspaper of Gujarat “Sandesh” has dedicated whole page 3 for this purpose.All  local,state & national level channel & Radio FM Mirchi joined us.With help of media we were able to spread the message up to 50 million Indians within a week.
 
Suggestions:
(1) Books, maps, DVDs in form of braille & audio must be translated in local language.
(2) More assistants should be there to take more successful sessions.
(3) Some more models e.g. Solar system, Comets would be required.
 
Conclusion:
During our carrier we never got such self satisfaction & happiness which we had during these session. We are very much grateful to Dr. Amelia Oritz-Gil and friends at the IAU for such a incredible gift. For more pictures & videos kindly have a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gurudevobservatory/sets/.