Bangalore cool to virtual telescope idea

CIOL Bureau
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BANGALORE, INDIA: India's premier science city failed to live up to its reputation as it gave a tepid response to a Microsoft-sponsored workshop here on the concept of the "virtual telescope".


Though the city is host to about 70 scientific and research institutions, including the renowned Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), there were only a few takers to peep into the universe or scan the outer space through the computer-programmed telescope.

"We had only 70 registrations for the two-day workshop that began Thursday," Microsoft Research lab spokesman Sridhar Vedantham told IANS.

The low-key participation was conspicuous as the Satish Dhawan auditorium in the IISc campus was not even half full.


About 80 participants, including some faculty members and students of IISc and amateurs from the Bangalore Astronomical Society and the Jawaharlal Nehru planetarium, attended the workshop on first day and not even half of them turned up on the second day.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, partnered with Microsoft Research Labs to conduct the workshop in which a computer programme that allows you to scan the universe and zoom into outer space through its Windows was on demo.

"The participation may be small but their interest is overwhelming," Microsoft programme manager Yan Xu said.


But an IISc faculty member said on condition of anonymity that he did not find anything that was useful for science research at the workshop. "It is a good programme to educate students who are willing to learn astronomy but not much for research," he said.

However, researcher Chaitra Hegde found the demo seminar engaging.

"As an amateur astronomer, I found it to be a good learning experience that can be used for science popularisation," she said.

The programme enables students and scholars to conduct astronomical research, promote science education and create entertainment.