IYA2009 Dawns in the City of Vikram Sarabhai
Location: Kankaria Lake, Ahmedabad, India
1st January 2009
It was twilight, well over a hour before sunrise, when over five hundred school students assembled before the gates of Bal Vatika, Ahmedabad. Over half of them were accompanied by their parents and family members.
There were students from several different schools. Their teachers were also around to give them moral support. Their main object - to welcome the closest star, also called the Garden Star by Sidewalk Astronomer John Dobson and herrald the arrival of the International Year of Astronomy. The plans for this day had been going on for weeks. Their parents reported that the children were more excited then they were during the school picnics.
Minutes before sunrise, four hundred of the children were given colorful ballons to relase at the appointed hour. Dozens of amateur astronomers and several volunters were around, wearing caps with the IYA2009 & Solar Physics 2009 Logos. Children were also carrying play cards and flyers with the Logo of the DAWN of IYA2009 and also the regular IYA2009 logos.
Minutes after the sunrise, after a brief prayer, the children release the 400 colorful baloons in the sky. They clapped their hands. Amateur astronomers, briefly explained to them the object of the celebration. The amateur astronomers also explained why the lake was selected as a venue for DAWN of IYA2009. Besides being a well known landmark in Ahmedabad, it was also had some relation with solar observation. While highlighting that most observatories were located in dark skies region on high altitude areas, the children were informed, that in case of a solar observatory, it was necessary to have it close to a water body, preferably on an island. The cool winds that blew across the lake water, was important to reduce the turbulant motion of the air and provide clarity in studing our nearest star - The Sun.
Telescopes fitted with safe astro solar filters were soon mounted at the venue. We are grateful to Galileo Telescopes of Mumbai for providing these filters to all registrants of the DAWN of IYA2009. The children, as well as their parents, teachers and the morning walkers joined the long line of observers, who had a look at the sun through the scope.
A small group of children sat on the lake side, played a guitair and sang astronomy related songs. All of them were determined to make the Year 2009 as one of the most eventful year in their lives and a fitting tribute to Dr. Vikram A Sarabhai, the Father of Modern Indian Sciences.