The Sky on Bike is an astronomy outreach programme which aims to introduce the wonders of the night sky to identified groups of economically disadvantaged and uneducated population in Indian villages with the aim to create a scientific temper.
We envision telescopes being carried on bicycles, and we’ve zealously named this arrangement as “Sky Bike”. These sky bikes will be used at locations where public will be gathered to conduct observations. Trained volunteers whom we’ll call Educators will explain the night sky and show the sky through telescopes, hand out colorful handouts and enact street plays. These sky bikes aim to foster science education and dispel myths, as myths related to celestial events are rampant in many areas of India.
The project was started on a great note with the motive to use it to reach as many people as possible in the identified target audience range. The core team identified a few motivated volunteers who registered to volunteer with us for the SKY BIKE project. Along with creating this group of ingenious minds who will take the project ahead to the public, the core team conducted design discussion meetings.
R&D FOR BIKE AND TELESCOPE SELECTION
In critical design reviews conducted from 1st to 5th August, the design for both the Sky bikes and telescope were finalized.
Various factors were kept in mind while designing the bikes including:
– They should be economically affordable
– They should be easily available
– A sturdy and efficient design.
These factors would ascertain that such bikes be easily bought to build and expand this project and as an effort that people can buy these bikes at a nominal cost and take the project further.
The bicycle was selected to be a normal roadster bike that is easily available amongst the common masses and is also economical.
Design needs for the telescope included the following parameters:
– It should be economically viable
– It should be easily procurable
– Indigenously available
– Not too heavy to be carried on a bike
The telescope identified was a 150mm F/5 Telescope with a tube length of 65 cm.
These telescopes were procured from Gnomon Astrotech Pvt. Ltd. (GAPL), a pioneer company dealing in Astronomy in India. Further this telescope has a specification that is suitable to observe the celestial bodies along with being of an appropriate weight which makes it comfortable to be carried on a bike. This telescope is also resilient to the jerks that it may have to tolerate when on road.
We are also planning to incorporate an additional ‘truss’ structure that would hold the telescope on the bike, and would also help minimize the associated jerks.
The truss structure is the attachment with which the telescope would be mounted on the bicycle. The structure needs to be designed such that it holds the telescope upright, and should be lightweight so that it can be carried on bike without disturbing the stability. Further, the structure would be designed in a way so that it can absorb the jerks due to travel on road, such that the telescope is safe. This is in the design and production stage right now.
Test Run of Sky Bike
The next step for the team is to test this developed Sky Bike on the road, and to use it to conduct observations. As soon as the Sky bike is tested and finalized, we will first conduct a trial run at a nearby location with public, and call for more volunteers who will take this project to as many areas as possible through trainings provided by our core team.
Publicity: We plan to start creating interest by publicizing. In the next steps we will do the following:
– Social Media, Blogs and website
– Creating attractive graphics and collateral such as handouts and flyers
Along with observation and handouts, we would like to run some street plays. For this purpose, we will recruit volunteers among students and friends. We will also create some basic scripts. These street plays will also focus on myth busting related to astronomical events. They will be used to connect to the masses and educate them.