Astronomy educator Nandivada Rathnasree passed away on May 9 after battling with COVID-19. She was the director of the Nehru Planetarium and Science Museum in Delhi for the last 21 years.
The passionate astronomy educator joined the planetarium in 1996 and was set to retire in November 2021. She has been credited with several promising and new initiatives and projects during her long stint. The 57-year-old was also the first chairperson of the Astronomical Society of India’s public outreach and education committee (ASI-POEC).
Rathnasree was admitted to a Delhi hospital due to COVID-19 complications and after a spending week in ICU she passed away on Sunday. She was married to Patrick Das Gupta, a professor in Delhi University’s department of physics and astrophysics, and is survived by a son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter.
Appointed director of the Nehru Planetarium in 1999, Rathnasree held the position until her death. During these 21 years of service, she became the torchbearer of astronomy education in India. Paying a tribute to the renowned Scientist, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA) said that the late academician was “one of the most active science communicators in the country” and that she was driven to help disseminate Astronomy to the public, especially the kids.
The tweet noted her as an inspiration to countless people who aspire to take up Astronomy and Science Communication. Under her leadership, Nehru Planetarium became one of the city’s iconic institutions.
She was one of the most active science communicators in the country and was driven to help disseminate Astronomy to the public, especially the kids, and was an inspiration to countless people to take up Astronomy and Science Communication. pic.twitter.com/bqLWJrmBMU
— IUCAA Scipop (@IUCAAScipop) May 9, 2021
IUCAA added in a series of tweets saying Rathnasree was passionate about sharing “India’s rich heritage of Science” and she was also a foremost expert on the Jantar Mantar complexes in Delhi, Jaipur and Varanasi. She would often educate the people and often perform experiments or measurements with her students.
“Extremely saddened to learn about the unfortunate demise of Dr N. Rathnasree,” the official Twitter account of the Ministry of Culture wrote in a tweet mourning the death of the astronomy educator.
Extremely saddened to learn about the unfortunate demise of Dr N. Rathnasree, Director of Nehru Planetarium under @_NMML_ passed away on sunday. Heartfelt condolences to the family & prayers for the departed soul & God to provide strength to the bereaved family. pic.twitter.com/rn9CaoDFxQ
— Ministry of Culture (@MinOfCultureGoI) May 11, 2021
Rathnasree had a PhD in stellar evolution from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research and did post-doctoral research on pulsar astronomy at the University of Vermont, US.
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