A look at the star-lit night sky makes us – at least those who realise how big the stars could be and how far they might be – feel so tiny and insignificant. But, the smallness of human beings could not prevent them to gauging movement of stars billions of light years away and sending spacecraft to outer atmospheres. India recently joined the elite club of sending a Mars Orbiter Mission. No one is sure about the country’s material gain from the Rs 450-crore mission, nor the US, Russia or European Union whose missions have reached Mars so far. But thus human beings prove their greatness. It’s like scaling the Everest. They feel great to be on top of the highest peak. And feeling great is important. Here lies the energy of human progress, civilisation.
Astronomy buffs across the world these days are having the same feeling by having the rare glimpse of Comet ISON, which is possibly facing ‘death’. Though astronomers calculated that the comet discovered last year is going to be more visible after November 28, it also runs the risk of being eaten up or burnt up by the sun. Stargazers across the world have already flooded the internet with photos of Comet ISON taken from binoculars or ordinary telescopes. Some of them have even been able to spot the comet through naked eyes an hour before the sunrise. Meghalaya has joined the bandwagon too. The State Council of Science Technology and Environment rightly felt the need of bringing awareness about the charismatic celestial event. This is an opportunity to attract students towards the practical aspects of science, a subject not yet so popular in the region. However, there were not many takers for the Council’s initiative. The only one awareness programme on Comet ISON held in a less significant yet old school hardly had any publicity, thanks to the absence of any MLA or minister to cut the ribbon. Of course, one needs to understand their preoccupations with public ‘obligations’ and of those schools where the coming examinations are the priority. In the process, the young minds have lost one good chance of feeling great by watching the comet, reading about it, speaking about it, and getting the feel of being a member of the universe.