December 5, 2012
STARS It was in Madhya Pradesh, Central India, that my parents encouraged my interest in science, telling me about stars, rocks, and dinosaurs. I was still a small boy, but even then, my parents´ love of nature and their natural surroundings influenced me profoundly, and stimulated my curiosity to know more and more about the world we live in. At that time in my school days, the fantastic night sky in Jabalpur, Central India, fascinated me, and I began to get to know the constellations with the help of a very old and tattered star atlas, dated 1926, that belonged to my mother. I still have this antique atlas, with illustrations of the night sky in India, month by month, but today it is more a part of my collection than a guide to the stars. My father once told me that millions of years ago the Jabalpur region in Central India was all under water, where many sediments were deposited, and dinosaurs roamed around the shores, as evidenced by fossils now found in rocks that overlie those that formed the Gondwana continent. Stories like this sparked my imagination, and although I never found any fossils, I used to go on long walks and collect colourful minerals and quartz crystals. Little did I know that I would go on to study geology at the University of Nagpur, not far from Jabalpur. It is now plain to me that most of the stimulus and encouragement to satisfy my curiosity came from them. Although I followed a carreer in geosciences, ever since then, I never stopped looking at stars, planets, and constellations.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.