A 19-year-old boy from New Delhi is helping the central government to build affordable low-cost astronomy labs in schools across the country to foster astronomical education and help interested children learn more about the planetary and cosmic bodies.
Aryan Mishra, son of a newspaper vendor is making headlines across the country for establishing low-cost astronomy labs across the central government-run schools across the country to help children pursue astronomical education. Well, this is not for the first time that he is news. He is well known for discovering an asteroid along with one of his classmates at the age of 14-years.
Who Is Aryan Mishra?
Aryan has always been a prodigy. Coming from a family of a Newspaper vendor, his financial conditions weren’t very entertaining. However, his parents had enrolled him in a private school, so that he establishes a good career in future. Since his childhood, he exhibited extra-ordinary learning skills. While he studied all the subjects in school with due interest, his curiosity was more inclined towards stars & planets.
Logical Indian quoted Aryan telling a story about his childhood “When I was in class 2 I wanted to become a train driver. But one night when the entire family was sleeping on the roof to avoid Delhi’s heat, I stared blankly at the sky with a craving to know what is beyond,” he said.
His First Telescope
Ayran’s curiosity motivated him to demand a telescope from his family. However, since he was 11-year-old only and astronomy was not a developed field in the country, his family tried to convince him towards other fields. However, Aryan had started imagining his future between stars and planets. He started saving money by cutting off on his school lunch and school travelling expenses. It took him 18 months to save Rs. 5000 for an expensive telescope, which otherwise would not be an easy thing to buy for his parents. This was the first time when his family understood his interest & curiosity towards astronomy.
Aryan joined the astronomy club in the school and made other students look through his telescope at celestial bodies. “There smile made my day,” Aryan added talking about his classmates’ reactions on seeing towards the unexplored skies.
Discovering Asteroid at the age of 14-Years
In 2014, ‘All India Asteroid Search Campaign’ a nationwide outreach programme was conducted by ‘Astronomical Society of India’. Aryan and his classmate Keerti Vardhan Kukreti, were nominated by their school to participate in the programme. The programme was about discovering a new celestial body like a planet, star, comet, asteroid, meteoroid etc.
Aryan tells the story saying “I didn’t have any laptop or smartphone, so I had to spend hours in a cybercafe, scouring through the data to discover an unidentified object.”
Finally, the duo was able to discover a near-earth asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. This discovery made him famous and the Newspaper’s son was on the front page of the leading newspapers.
“You don’t generally see a newspaper vendor’s son photo in the newspaper daily,” Aryan quoted.
His discovery is currently designated as “2014-00372”.
His Startup – Spark Astronomy
Once he became famous for his discovery, many schools started to invite him to take guest lectures and motivate students. While initially, he enjoyed it, he soon realised that drawing student’s attention towards astronomy was not easy.
“We have chapters on solar system in class 7 and 8. But no astronomy labs to make them see the solar system. To spark students interest, we need to show them the planets and not printed images. This is when the idea of creating an astronomy lab for students popped up in Aryan’s mind.
“I wanted a space, where students will discuss space, and spot the planets on their own,” he said.
He believed that creating a separate space for astronomy in schools will not only draw student’s interest towards astronomy but will also convince parents to let their children pick their favourite subject, astronomy as a prospective career.
As a result, he started his own start-up company in 2018 by the name ‘Spark Astronomy’. The start-up is aimed at building and setting up astronomy labs for private schools to make students see beyond the blue skies. The labs consist of four primary telescopes for sky-watching. Different types of activities are conducted in the lab to help students understand the cosmos.
Aryan’s motivation to set up this lab is his own life story. There used to be times when he showed interest in astronomy but no one took him seriously. He had to work hard to prove his curiosity, interest and potential. He believes that those who are literally into astronomy and cosmos would be benefitted a lot through the astronomy labs.
“Nobody took me seriously because of my age. But once I showed them my passion for space science and made them realise the potential of this astronomy, schools started calling me to set up laboratories,” he said.
Setting Labs Across the Nation
Aryan’s noble initiative caught the eye of K. Vijay Raghavan, the Principal Scientific Advisor to the government of India. Now, Raghavan is bringing these low-cost labs to the central government as well as privately run schools under the Ministry of Human Resource Development.
Soon, the Central government will be setting up astronomy laboratories in Kendriya Vidyalayas and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas across India with the help of Aryan’s startup. Unlike ordinary college-going kids, Aryan is fulfilling his thirst to learn and paving a path for future kids to explore space science with the help of his astronomy labs.
While explaining about the initial project, Aryan said that in the next three months, eight labs will be built in collaboration with government.
As Aspiring Astronaut and an Astrophysicist
Aryan’s passion has earned him so much name in the industry already that he has given lectures alongside former NASA Astronaut Nicole Stott (the first human to paint in space). Not only this, his idol & famous Indian Space Traveller form NASA, Rakesh Sharma has written Aryan a personal message.
He has also met the Indian American astronaut and the United States Navy officer, Sunita William. Also, he has met the CEO of India’s Space Industries, various other Astronauts many scientists from NASA and other space agencies throughout his 4 years of his journey into astronomy. He also met the Late Astronaut Kalpana Chawla’s parents.
You can visit his official facebook page here to get in touch with him:
Apart from this, he is regular in conducting Skype sessions and classes to connect with and teach astronomy aspirants all over the world. He has also been on TEDx talks, the famous talk show, where he spoke on the topic “Look up at the Sky”.
On being asked about his plans, Aryan said that he aspires to become an astronaut or an astrophysicist. Aryan is currently pursuing B.Sc in Physics from Ashoka University.
Author: Keshav Kothari
A young CA Aspirant who is a writer and a photographer with the zeal to convey a positive perception through his work.