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Astronomy @ Taj Workshop, Agra, India, February 2016

A few months ago, I was recruited to join Astronomy At Taj. This wasn't a regular astronomy conference; rather, it was combination star-formation workshop / educational winter school / cultural exchange tour. I spent four days in Agra as part of it. I gave three talks (two on New Horizons, and one on planet formation), and participated on two panels (one on ET open to the public, and one on Contact).

The conference was attended by roughly 30 undergraduate Indian astronomy & physics students, and a dozen Canadian students. There were another 50+ engineering students from the host institution, Anand Engineering College, in Agra. Most of these local students helped put the conference together. While India has some well-developed infrastructure in astronomy, most of it is centered in a few places (Bangalore, Pune, maybe Delhi?) so many students across the country don't get a lot of exposure. This was perhaps the first astronomy meeting in Agra ever. Besides tourists coming for the Taj, Agra is not regularly visited... the closest commercial airport is 3-4 hours away in Delhi. Our conference was at the College on the outskirts of Agra, about 90 minutes away from the Taj itself.

Thank you to Pranav Sharma for inviting me -- Pranav is one of the amazing shining stars of modern, young India. His counterpart in Canada is Shantanu Basu at U. Western Ontario, who pulled this off from the Canadian side. It was really fantastic to get to meet a good fraction of India's astronomy students... so much energy and enthusiasm throughout.

I didn't take many photos during the workshop... there were a lot of people with cameras, and the program was dense with talks and workshops. But I do have a few from the trip to the Taj, and a couple from the days before and after.

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Henry Throop

Last modified 11 Jun 2023