February 28th is celebrated as National Science Day all over the country, commemorating the discovery of the Raman Effect by C.V. Raman, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
Each year, Science Day is celebrated at the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) observatory at Khodad. The GMRT, which is the world's most powerful telescope operating at low radio frequencies, was built and is being operated by the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR). Although the prime activity at NCRA and GMRT is to carry out frontline research in radio astronomy and astrophysics, and develop state-of-the-art instrumentation for this purpose, NCRA and GMRT observatory also have programmes to popularise science and technology among the general public, especially the student community.
The Science Day celebrations comprise a major component of our outreach programmes. Science Day events are usually spread over two days starting 28th of February, in order to cater to the tremendous response from the general public, especially the students from the schools and colleges in the rural and semi-urban areas and districts in the western Maharashtra, especially those near the GMRT observatory. It is perhaps one of the largest Science Day events in rural India, with about a hundred schools, colleges and institutions participating, and over 25000 people visiting the observatory in 2013 during the two-day event.
The programme consists of a grand Science Exhibition, where children from the schools and colleges exhibit their science projects, and prizes are given for the best entries in different age groups. In addition, there are exhibitions illustrating astronomical themes and concepts, exciting results obtained with the GMRT, various subsystems of GMRT and illustrative models. There are also exhibits and live demonstrations from various research institutes and science popularisation groups, as well as teaching institutions such as the University of Pune and various national laboratories. There are also programmes to interact with well-known scientists and engineers and film shows on astronomical topics of current interest.
The GMRT and the science exhibition will be open to the public from 9.30 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. on 28th February and 1 st March 2014.