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Samanta Chandrashekhar- He Was A Great Naked Eye Astronomer Of India! He Deserves To Be Celebrated As The Last Light Bearer Of Traditional Indian Astronomy.

Chandrasekhar Singh Samant was an Indian astrologer from Odisha . His full name is Mahamahopadhyaya Samanta Chandrasekhara Sinha Harichandan Mohapatra. However, in Orissa he is popularly known as Pathani Samanta, a nick-name given by his parents.

Although the exact date of birth of Samanta Chandrasekhara is debatable, he is believed to have been born on 13th December, 1835 in a royal family of the princely state of Khandaparagarh presently in the district of Nayagarh. Struck with poverty, child Chandrasekhara had little scope of having any formal school education.

It is said that at the age of 10, one of his uncles initiated him to astronomy and showed him few stars in the sky. This aroused his curiosity for the stars that persisted as a lifetime passion. At the age of 15, he noticed that the position of stars was not in accordance with the rules prescribed in the famous astronomical texts or Siddhantas followed at that time. He was not sure whether the rules were fundamentally wrong or his observations lack the accuracy as demanded by the merit of task.  As there was no instrument maker at that time to supply him with the requisite tools to carry out such precise measurements, he had to develop his own set of instruments out of whatever materials he found, such as bamboo and wood. Sometimes, he used shell of the fruit Bottle gourd, an iron bowl as the raw material.

Chandrasekhara has discovered some original corrections to be applied to the mean motion of the Moon to account for its three important anomalies, i.e. Evection, Variation and Annual Equation. Although some of these anomalies were known to independent observers at various tomes, Chandrasekhara was the only Indian astronomer who has detected and measured all these three values.

Another important contribution Of Chandrasekhara was the improvement of the values of Parallax for the Sun and the Moon which were so important for the calculation and rediction of eclipses. To determine the parallax of the Sun and the Moon, their respective distances from the Earth have to be expressed in terms of Earth radius.

At the age of twenty-three, Chandrasekhara started to record his observations systematically and compiled these findings in a masterpiece treatise written in Sanskrit on palm leaves called Siddhanta Darpana which he completed at the age of only thirty four. But it took 30 years to get published in Devnagari script from Kolkata. It contains 2500 number of slokas of which 2284 are compiled by himself and the rest are done by other scholars.

The section Madhyamadhikara of the first part Purvardha deals with the  time period of days, months and year, mean motions and true positions of the planets. The second section Sphutadhikara mentions about the   Geocentric  Solar System. As described by Samanta, the planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are revolving around the Sun on their own orbits. The Sun along with these planets move  around the stationary Earth. The Moon is also revolving on its orbit around the Earth. For this purpose Samanta himself  has prepared  a geocentric model of the planetary system which is exactly matching with the model of  the great astronomer of  Spain Tycho Brahe and Astronomer of Kerala School Nilakantha Somayajee .

His astronomical observations and calculations with accuracy in naked eyes has made him to be counted as one of the great astronomer of the world. An planetarium named’ Pathani Samanta Planetarium’ is built in Bhubaneswar as a tribute to this great astronomer. The title of Mahamahoadhyaya was convered upon him by the British Govt. in 1893 in recognition of his contribution to astronomy. Samata Chandra Sekhar passed away in 1904.


Sharanya Alva

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