Astronomy Camp at AIS 2011

Well, this is the first blog post that I'm publishing after 2 months. I'm really sorry about the absence of updates and news as i was really busy with University academics and AIESEC work. This post is about the Astronomy camp that we conducted for the Asian International School (AIS) last 18th of March

Astronomy Camp - March 2011 at University of Colombo

I'm now gonna blog about an event that we had in our University almost 2 months back. I'm really sorry guys for dragging this such longer due to the busy schedule I've been undergoing last few months due to various reasons. Hope you don't mind me sharing in so late. Anyway here it is...

Watch Total Solar Eclipse 11th July 2010 Live Streaming from EclipseBlog

The most awaited total solar eclipse of the year 2010 is about to take place in less than next 20 hours from now. There have been a lot of groups/ individuals flocked at South Pacific islands and Chilean territories right now waiting for the eclipse to take place.

IYA2009 Commemorative Coins Issued by Many Countries Worldwide

As the title of this post hints, there were lot of countries involved in this worldwide celebration during 2009, which was the 400th anniversary of both the discovery of telescope for astronomical observation by Galileo Galilei and the publication of “Astronomia Nova” by Johannes Kepler. These were the reasons which were prominent in specifying 2009 as the IYA.

A Tribute to Fiami the author of The Lives of Galileo

I have already made a post about Fiami, and his great gift that I received during the Christmas season. I got many great feedback on that and even my friends wanted to read it, as none of them had the comic book with them, So I thought of doing a youtube video featuring Fiami

The Blog Has Moved !

Sunday, March 29, 2009

IYA 2009 Observation Camp, Kandy

Yet another Observation Camp that I contributed, was the Astronomy Camp organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Kandy.
IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya Kandy

The camp was held to promote International Year of Astronomy 2009 -IYA 2009 from the evening of 27th March 2009 to the morning of the next day. It should be mentioned that the girls of the ( present and alumni members ) Mahamaya Girls College, Kandy took immense effort in bringing this camp into a reality. The camp was conducted by present and alumni members of the Anandian Astronomical Association ( more known as AAA) , Ananda College, Sri Lanka. This combination is best reputed as "Star Party Crew", who organize the annual Star Party observation competition.

I, J D Prasanna Deshapriya was fortunate to grace the occasion as an alumnus of AAA together with my colleagues. We managed to get into the school at about 6.30 pm after a 4-hour bus-drive from Colombo. The opening ceremony started at 7.00 pm and Mr. Sithum Gunarathne delivered the first lecture on Introduction to Observation Astronomy and there was an attendance of about 90 students as well.

Then after the dinner at 9.00 pm we had a small competition just like a guessing game and it turned out to be a fun activity while a lot of information, being shared among participants. After that was a lecture by Mr. Pulasthi Kanaththage on "Celestial Sphere" .Then we had a practical observation session as the sky was clear and participating students were educated on how to use the star map/chart. This observation session prevailed nearly for 1 hour and since the sky got into the type V (5), the participants were directed to lecture halls and they were taught on Telescopes, IYA 2009 , History of transformation of Telescopes, and prevailing IYA projects such as Globe at Night project & Galileoscope.Interactive lecture by Mr. Sithum Gunarathne in progress at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya Kandy

Then we arranged our telescope assembly project. Here, we divided the students into 5 groups and asked students to assemble a telescope which was provided to them. This was a great experience to amateurs, who had never even touched a single telescope. Since we had only 3 telescopes this seemed bit troublesome and however we managed to teach them how to assemble the telescopes step by step. All the telescopes were Newtonian reflectors with alti-azimuth mounting system.

Sooner sky again turned out to type II (2) and we went back into observation. I, myself captured few stars and got a lot of effort to capture Jupiter precisely as there was more light pollution around. The students, most of whom were juniors from grades 7 & 8 were astonished to see comprehensively the majestic Jovian planet with its four major satellites - Ganimede, Calisto, Europa & Io with telescopic aid.
The guessing game as conducted by Mr. Hasitha Karunarathne at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya Kandy
Meantime we arranged a small competition to make the best Lunar lander model. They were provided paper, glue, scissors, sellotapes and an egg. The objective was to make the lander so that the egg would be inside and to have the egg survived,( in the sense not-broken) after having collided with the ground during landing. To build a ready-made landing site we selected a tall building and dropped each lander made by a group. The Group Activity of Making Lunar Landing Module at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya KandyIt was really a fun activity and in terms of scientific approach, this determined the

ability of the designer of the craft
to think a bit about airfoil, air-drag, air-resistance, the geometric shape and even the concepts like center of mass, relative to its shape and phenomenon of free fall. In this case most of the crafts survived, since the ground was smooth and wet with fog overnight.
An observational astronomy lecture is in progress at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya Kandy
Eventually as the camping came to an end as the sun rays kissed the star-gazers from the southern mountain hills. The principal, tutorial staff, and of course the students shared a wonderful day in their life with a lot of joy and exciting knowledge of this sidereal science. This was one of immemorial nights in the 29-year old history of School.

This actually implied that a promising future would be lying ahead for the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya, Kandy. Thus I can note that the Astronomy is now being popularized in this city of Temple of Tooth. In the end I take this opportunity to thank Mrs. Malalagama - the Principal of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya- Practical Observation and star-gazing at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya KandyKandy, the tutorial staff the Board of officials and members of respective Astronomical Association and parents of the school children and Sumudu Malalagama and her friends - Indeewari, Thelum & Tharini of Astronomical Society of Mahamaya Girls' College for their efforts in the success of this event.Mr. Sithum Gunarathne demonstrating the functionality of a telescope together with Sanka Lakshan at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya Kandy

Furthermore it's worth saying that school has a great reputation over the island for its Hockey team. Seetha Devi Vidyalaya leads their way in school-based Girls' Hockey islandwide.

The Contributors

1. Pulasthi Kanaththage
2. Sithum Gunarathne
3. Hasitha Karunarathne
4. Madusha Dedigamuwa
5. Prasanna Deshapriya
6. Sanka Lakshan

The Star Party Crew at IYA 2009 Observation Camp,organized by the Astronomical Association of Seetha Devi Balika Vidyalaya Kandy

Friday, March 27, 2009

IYA 2009 celebrated by Southlands, Galle

Southlands College, Galle
Under one of my Astronomy and IYA 2009 outreach projects I got a chance to contribute to the Observation Camp organized by the girls of the Southlands College, Galle, LK. The observation camp started on the 20th of March 2009 from 6.00 pm onwards at the college premises. Together with me, I had the accompany of Mr. Thilina Heenatihala, Mr. Pulasthi Kanaththage, Pavithra, Asitha and Basura as my colleagues.

We started with a lecture on Celestial Sphere by Mr. Pulasthi Kanaththage and when it was getting more late we divided the attendees, who were altogether about 100, into 5 groups. They were taught on how to use the star map/ chart to track the sidereal objects and make out popular constellations easily.

Since the dawn of the next day, we began to employ the girls with their practical awareness of observation. First we told the elder students how to assemble the Newtonian reflector telescope that they had. ( Some parts/ screws were irreversably damaged for not being used for sometime)
Then we g0t them to see Saturn at about 2.00 am on the 21st. Mr. Pulasthi Kanaththage and I, myself took immence effort on capturing the Saturn with the telescope as the area was more polluted with light. Alttough we missed Saturn on the zenith, we manged to get it and show it to girls with precise motion.

Then without much trouble we located Moon and observed the Moon phase and it was a great fascinating scene for the participants, most of whom were amateurs. Later in the morning we captured the sight of great jovian Jupiter ant its four satellites and had to agjust the telescope once a couple of minutes to keep the precision.

At the end it was all a funny 12 hours with intellectual enhancement for everybody took part.
Special thank goes out to the Teacher in charge of Astronomical Association of Southlands College- Mrs. Nandanee and the present board of officials for their deidication in making this event a reality in IYA 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Lecture for IYA 2009 by Prof. Kavan Ratnatunga

Prof Kavan Ratnatunga

'The Role of Astronomy in Modern Society'
Prof. Kavan Ratnatunga

Organised by
Young Members' Section,
The Institution of Engineers, Sri Lanka

The International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) is a celebration of the 400th anniversary of Galileo Galilee observing the moons of Jupiter in 1609. 2009 is also the 200th birth anniversary of Charles Darwin who published his Origin of the Species in 1859. Both have led to our current scientific understanding of the evolution of the universe and life within it.

The presentation will also address the role of Astronomy in Modern Society, including the understanding of the dangers of global warming and Near Earth Objects.

Date: Monday, 23rd March 2009

Time: 5:30 p.m.

Venue: IESL Auditorium, 120, Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo 7.

All Are Welcome!

Event Flyer

Selected Publications of Lecturer

ApJ = Astrophysical Journal
AJ = Astronomical Journal

Ratnatunga, K. U. Griffiths, R. E. & Ostrander, E. J. 1999, "Disk and Bulge Morphology of WFPC2 galaxies: The HST Medium Deep Survey database" A. J. 118 86-107.

Ratnatunga, K. U. Griffiths, R. E. & Ostrander, E. J. 1999, "The Top Ten List of Gravitational Lens Candidates from the HST Medium Deep Survey" A. J. 117 2010-2023 .

Ratnatunga, K. U., Upgren, A. R. 1997, "Kinematics of Common Dwarf Stars: A Maximum Likelihood Analysis." Ap. J. 476: 811-828.

Ratnatunga, K. U., Ostrander, E. J., Griffiths, R. E., & Im, M. 1995, "New 'Einstein Cross' Gravitational Lens Candidates in Hubble Space Telescope WFPC2 Survey Images." Ap. J. 453 L5-L8.

Ratnatunga, K. U., Griffiths, R. E., Casertano, S., Neuschaefer, L. W., & Wyckoff, E. W. 1994, "Calibration of HST wide field camera for quantitative analysis of faint galaxy images." A. J. 108 2362-2382.

Ratnatunga, K. U., & Yoss, K. M. 1991, "Metalicity and Velocity distribution of Giants towards the Galactic Poles." Ap. J. 377 442-461.

Ratnatunga, K. U., & Casertano, S. 1991, "Absolute magnitude calibration using Trigonometric Parallax: Incomplete, Spectroscopic samples." A. J. 101 1075-1088.

Ratnatunga, K. U. 1990, "Comparison of GSC photometry in three Southern Fields." A. J. 100 280-289

Ratnatunga, K. U., & van den Bergh S. 1989, "The rate of Stellar Collapses in the Galaxy." Ap. J. 343 713-717.

Ratnatunga, K. U., & Freeman, K. C. 1989, "Field K giants in the Galactic Halo II." Ap. J. 339 126-148. 1989ApJ...339..126R

Ratnatunga, K. U., Bahcall, J. N., & Casertano, S. 1989, "Kinematic Modeling of the Galaxy I. The Yale Bright Star Catalog." Ap. J. 339 106-125.

Ratnatunga, K. U. 1988, "Distance independent Study of Moving Groups." A. J. 95 1132-1148.

Free Hosting for Astronomy site during IYA 2009

Web Host Free
In celebration of IYA 2009 - International Year of Astronomy, Web host Volcato Hosting has made arrangements to offer free hosting service to any astronomy site. Therefore this would be an awesome opportunity for you if you still use a subdomain or you are having the plan in the mind.

"By doing this, we can help the astronomy community — from experts, to amateurs and enthusiasts — to share their love of astronomy with the world," explained the company's Director Adam McMaster. "We believe that providing access to reliable web hosting is a great way to get more people interested in astronomy. What better way to help promote the International Year of Astronomy than to allow astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts everywhere to get themselves online and share their experiences?"

Headquartered in UK, since 2002 Volcato offers a range of services including cPanel hosting plans alongside Managed Dedicated Server options. More information available at

However please find be another site that offers free web hosting for any domain..

Free Website Hosting

Globe at Night, now in progress

Globe at NightGlobe at Night- the worldwide star count project started on last 16th March 2009. Globe at Night would be a major focus of International Year of Astronomy 2009-IYA 2009- and the project is scheduled to last till next 28th as urban skies are now being scrutinized by both digital and natural means. The mission is to obtain precise measurements of metropolitan area skies around the globe with the use of sky-quality meters.

The darker your sky, the more stars you'll see. You can easily contribute to this worldwide cause bu submitting the count of stars you see in the night and eventually the data will be useful to analyze the most observation-friendly areas, where there will be least amount of light pollution. Actually in comparison to the dark skies you observe in the highlands and countryside, the urban city skies are more polluted with light, causing very bad results to suburban observations as well.

Globe at Night is an excellent opportunity for people to get outside and see the night sky. Even from towns and cities it is possible to see Orion, and the information we get from everyone who takes part will allow us to build up a map of light pollution around the UK, and worldwide.' says Professor Ian Robson, chair of IYA2009 in the UK.

In this project the constellation of Orion is used to gauge how dark the sky is, and this is often referred to as magnitude in the sense of Globe at Night.Globe at Night

'We have now passed the point where more than half of the world's population live in urban areas, which are notorious for being excessively lit or badly lit by artificial lights. GLOBE at night is an easy way for people around the world to connect with the increasingly powerful and accepted idea that good lighting saves money; it reduces our greenhouse gases by lowering our use of electrical power; it is better for public safety; and it allows everyone to share the wonders of the night sky.' says Dr Connie Walker, senior science education specialist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the US national research and development centre for ground-based night time astronomy.

NASA Webcast to highlight Sun-Earth Day:Today

Sun Earth Day
Under the theme "Our Sun, Yours to Discover", annual Sun-Earth Day will be celebrated today, around the world. To promote the event, NASA scientists have launched a special Webcast, for the students and teachers to discover the importance of Sun and its influence on Earth, while SUN-Earth Day is recognized in conjunction with the spring equinox. The Webcast will commence today(20th) at 1 p.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time= UTC-4h) and in Sri Lanka the equivalent time would be 10:30 p.m.

Theme itself, celebrates the International Year of Astronomy 2009 ( IYA 2009) and focuses the daytime astronomy. A bunch of new discoveries about sun will be shared among the interactive-event participants, around the globe, including NASA, personnel as well. Participating students will be asked to present individual sundials, whereas others will be engaged in tasks, related to monitoring the sun and producing a unique space weather forecast through their own analysis.

"Tremendous strides have been made with satellite and ground-based observations of the sun, which have enabled us to monitor the sun to gain a better understanding of the processes that govern its influence on our solar system," says Eric Christian, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Sun-Earth Day basically emphasizes the Sun and its influence on Earth and geospace -the proximity of Earth. Throughout last 9 years NASA has been organizing various types of projects to popularize the idea and make more people educated about the cause. There have been many NASA-sponsored public outreach events for Sun-Earth Day, mainly focusing NASA heliophysics research and discoveries. However the mission is to have as many people, including kids form kindergardens to grade 12 students, as possible to witness sidereal events and get them effectively involved through webcasts, podcasts, demonstrations, star parties and etc.

"These events also support the spirit of international collaboration, We are excited about sharing the latest discoveries about our sun and encourage others to join our quest for a greater
Sun Earth Dayunderstanding of our closest star."says Lou Mayo, project manager at Goddard for Sun-Earth Day 2009.

Goddard is producing the Sun-Earth Day webcast. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and the Adler Planetarium in Chicago also are participating in the broadcast. Moreover NASA Television and the agency's Web site will broadcast the event live.

NASA TV streaming video, downlink and scheduling information

USeful resources:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

"100 Hours of Astronomy" Celebrated by Goddard Space Flight Center

Goddard Space Flight Center
The 100 Hours of Astronomy a courtesy of IYA 2009 will be featured throughout the globe from 2-5 April 2009 and celebrated with the public involvement. In conjunction with the IYA 2009 NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has organized an observation period where public is invited to share the experience during the above timeframe.

NASA news says that there would be lot of events happening ranging from webcasts, tours and education-related showcases, to rocket launchings. The organixing is conducted by the Astrophysics Science Division at Goddard, letting the general public to have a general impression on Galileo and his 400 year old legacy-IYA 2009.

The planned activities include tours to Goddard facilities, rocket launching with the NARHAMS Rocket Club, workshops on how to get started with a telescope, a "Yuri's Night" celebration on 3rd April and moreover, a concert by The Chromatics. Please note that so

me of these a

activities require registration. Apart form these activities at Goddard premises, there will also be a wide range of activities as well. These will be inclusive of a 4.5 mile "Planet Walk" along the Baltimore-Annapolis, and a "Star Party" hosted by the Astronomy Department at Anne Arundel

Community College. Furthermore there would be discussions by planetary scientists!

Goddard Space Flight Center

Therefore Universe shall ever by yours, to discover, as just as the IYA 2009 theme states.

If you're not a Stargazer, Why not be one?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Pluto Day Today: Pluto Rejuvenates in the Illinoisan Sense

pluto day
pluto day
The Pluto is again declared a planet in the State of Illinois and it's celebrated today under the theme "Pluto Day" today upon the discovery of the controversial heavenly body back in 1930.

LRB096 04130 KXB 14171 r


WHEREAS, Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of the planet Pluto,
was born on a farm near the Illinois community of Streator; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Tombaugh served as a researcher at the
prestigious Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Tombaugh first detected the presence of Pluto
in 1930; and
WHEREAS, Dr. Tombaugh is so far the only Illinoisan and
only American to ever discover a planet; and
WHEREAS, For more than 75 years, Pluto was considered the
ninth planet of the Solar System; and
WHEREAS, A spacecraft called New Horizons was launched in
January 2006 to explore Pluto in the year 2015; and
WHEREAS, Pluto has three moons: Charon, Nix and Hydra; and
WHEREAS, Pluto's average orbit is more than three billion
miles from the sun; and
WHEREAS, Pluto was unfairly downgraded to a "dwarf" planet

The script continues.... and click here for full detail

Thursday, March 12, 2009

SPS - Society of Physics Students dominates IYA 2009

Society of Physics StudentsThe SPS - Society of Physics Students- and Sigma Pi Sigma are collaborating in celebration of IYA 2009 and YoS - Year of Science. All the affiliated events will be launched with the theme " A Universe of Wonder"

SPS will work together with other respective participants for IYA 2009 in the special Cornerstand project, which is aimed at enabling 1M students to build their own telescope to experience the effect on how the great Italian mastermind could have observed the heavens. Coined as "Galileoscopes" these telescope will help amateurs to enjoy and feel the presence of IYA 2009 to the bottoms of their hearts while it lasts. SPS SOCKs - Science Outreach Catalyst Kids- will look into the matters of Galileoscopes and their function.

In its endeavours of popularizing the universal ambition, YoS is launching a large range of public Society of Physics Studentsawareness projects, to enable better understanding of the science and its being. Meantime COPUS network - Coalition on the Public Understanding of Science - is also supporting the cause by getting together with allied bodies, such like, SPS and APS. They will strive together to unveil profiles, websites, games, videos, and of course, experiments to the March's "Physics & Technology" thematic hub on YoS 2009 website. In connection of this effort, SPS looks forward to conduct an experiment on "the science of rolling objects". You too can contribute your own data, related to this experiment by submitting them on the YoS 2009 web portal , and later they will be used to analyse the ultimate report of the project.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Galileoscope Impresses All, Tried it?

Being strangers to their own skies, our ancestors were able to observe the heavens, 4 centuries ago, as the telescope came into being. He was none other than Galileo Galilei, an Italian who changes the way of the flow of the world. He was so selfless that he illustrated his observations and published them and left behind all of the legacies with his demise. However with gratitude to this influential man, his offspring is advancing towards distant goals and thus 2009 remarks the 400th anniversary of the primordial telescopic observations, ever done by an Earthling -Galileo-

Although Galileo's telescope was so primitive relative to present telescopes, it was smart enough to let Galileo observe the purified cosmos. Among his observations, were Jupiter's satellites, Saturn's rings, phases of Venus and Moon's craters.

Now Guess What?

Since it's IYA 2009 already, you still have the rights to recall what Galileo might have seen. Not a Déjà vu for you, but for him, in case he still existed. It's the Galileoscope.

It's great to see that Galileoscope ranks among other equivalents Cornerstand projects and the idea is to create a replica of what Galileo used 4 centuries ago. Follwing would be what is required to assemble this phenominal legacy.

  • A glass of 2-inch lens
  • Plastic casing
  • Eyepiece
  • Barlow lens
Actually Barlow lens are used to double the magnification and the construction of Galileoscope is expremely simple. Even a child could do it with a little support of a mature. For anyone interested in buying a Galileoscope, we got good nows. It's only $15!. Unbelieavable ha?

However the ambition of the promoters is to make telescopes as cheaply as possible worldwide ans physically enabling anyone to observe the skies, while spreading the news of the IYA 2009 in every nook and corner.

Furthermore, the organizers have made it such that you can have the privilege of donating a telescope to the needy, anywhere in the world. A telescope can be donated anonymously for only $12.50. If you have time, feel free to pay a visit to the Galileoscope page. There are many resources available to be obtained and benefited. Even if you feel so generous, don't throw away the idea of donating a telescope to a fellow earthling on your very mother planet.

Monday, March 9, 2009

IYA 2009 Random but important poster, I came across online

Astronomy IYA 2009 Sri Lanka

Sunday, March 8, 2009

IYA 2009 makes oldest telescopes to flock together in Adler Planetarium

Astronomy IYA 20091609 has been the turning point of human civilization for the fact that it was the very occasion when an individual earthling was able to observe the heavens of the universe and it will prove that soon. Thus Galileo Galilei's observation led to greater enhancements later on and after 400 years, celebrating the 4th century of the initial outreach International year of Astronomy resembles the importance of astronomy and its fundamental and sublime influence on almost everything.

In connection with the IYA 2009 the Adler Planetarium is arranging an exhibition of world's oldest telescopes to have Astronomy IYA 2009more popularization towards the IYA 2009. This will be conducted with two shows.

1.Telescopes: Through the Looking Glass

From 22nd May 2009 onwards, anyone can have an edge over anything of its nature. This 18th century Italian production would be one of the best featured and many ancient telescopes will be unveiled for public exposure. Vary from foot to 20 feet in length they are like to be the most hits by visitors. Thus the Adler Planetarium will reserve the rights to officially exhibit the most irresistible collection of primitive telescoAstronomy IYA 2009pes and would definitely be counted as a pinnacle.

2. 3-D Universe: A Symphony

This is yet another feat that is able to house a great lot of information and attraction. The event kicks off in the virtual art gallery and inspiring and picturesque images will be on display featuring, nebulae, galaxies, and other cosmic enigmas. Also you can enjoy the music of Mussorgsky's suite " Pictures at an Exhibition" being performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, March 5, 2009

IYA 2009 & Globe at Night 2009

IYA 2009 Plan

"Globe at Night" the 4th segment of the International Star-counting Program will be launched with a massive participation from 16th-28th March 2009 and is treated as a major happening in the Dark Sky Awareness Cornerstone project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, known as IYA 2009.

IYA 2009 astronomy

The classic citizen-science exercise, involving people, regardless of their expertise, to enjoy gazing at the constellation of Orion,with their naked eyes is more popularized this time than ever. Meantime scientific efforts will be carried-out using standard equipment to obtain precise and digital measurements to enhance the degree of overall observation wise success.

The effect of lighting-pollution on the environment and the disappearance of the dark night skies are majorly concerned and emphasized in the Globe at Night 2009 program.


IYA 2009 astronomy

We have now passed the point where more than half of the world's population lives in urban areas, which are notorious for being excessively lit or badly lit by artificial lights" says Dr. Connie Walker, senior science education specialist at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. "GLOBE at Night is an easy way for people around the world to connect with the increasingly accepted and powerful idea that good lighting saves money, it reduces greenhouse gases by lowering our use of electrical power, it is better for public safety, and it allows everyone to share the wonders of the night sky." she further added.


During the previous episodes of Globe at Night during the last 3 years, people from various parts of the globe (in more than 100 countries) have contributed towards the success of the project and there had been over 20,000 measurements of the starry nights.

It is interesting to see some cities, such like Norman, Oklahoma, Mishawaka, Indiana, Willimantic, Connecticut, and Waynesville, Ohio, are organizing observation camps to get both students, enthusiasts, amateurs and public advocates and representatives from local city and county administration to a unique platform. "Connecticut kids are collaborating with students in Wales, Canada and Romania on GLOBE at Night, and we have an extensive campaign planned with the schools near the observatories of north-central Chile," Walker said.

"Astronomy from the Ground Up" a network of small science and nature centers fostered by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) and the National Science Foundation, 146 amateur astronomers that are part of the ASP-NASA Night-Sky Network, and (soon) the Association of Science-Technology Centers have already received related training and guidance in GLOBE at Night and affiliated projects.

"International organizing efforts for GLOBE at Night have been strong in countries like Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain and the United Kingdom, to name a few" she added.

Upcoming chances to learn more about GLOBE at Night include the March 6 episode of the IYA2009 "365 Days of Astronomy" podcast and oral sessions at the upcoming meeting of the National Science Teachers Association in New Orleans, March 19-20.

In more news, cities, such as Tucson, Arizona, are collaborating GLOBE at Night with involvement in the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)'s EarthHour event , which encourages everyone to turn out their lights from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time on the evening of Saturday, March 28, the final night of GLOBE at Night 2009. This seems as a beginning of a promising future of clear observation as far as the event is concerned.

"We also encourage everyone to participate in the star-counting activity being carried out under the banner of IYA2009 in October, called ‘The Great World Wide Star Count.' Another star-hunting program called ‘How Many Stars' is available the rest of the year," Walker added. According to Walker, during up-coming 2010 episode of, GLOBE at Night it is expected that this will be adopted as a core activity of the Girl Scouts of America.

More info:

Dark-Skies Awareness is associated with other 10 global cornerstone projects, supported by the International Astronomical Union's IYA2009 efforts. For more information on a variety of programs including the 3 star-hunting programs, a planetarium show, a presence in Second Life, and joint programs with U.S. national parks, amateur astronomers and some of the greatest environmental photographers in the world, see

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Famous Deutsches Museum gets ready for IYA2009

The reputed Deutsches Museum is arranging a well-planned scenario for celebrating IYA 2009.

The activities include following:

  1. Evolution of the Universe Exhibition
    A show explaining how our Universe has developed, starting from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago, and bringing us up to the present day. Questions that puzzle astronomers will be examined, and there will even be a look into the cosmic future.
  2. Reopening of the Renovated Goerz-Reflector
    After a year's absence, this lovingly-restored telescope will be back in action! A public observation night will give it the return it deserves.
  3. 40 Years after the Moon Landing
    An exhibition focusing on the exciting topic of man's exploration of the Moon. Actual lunar rock samples and original Apollo space suits will be present.
  4. Moon Pictures
    The Earth's natural satellite is the focus of this exhibition containing stunning images spanning many ages.
  5. Lecture Series
    Aimed at the general public, titles include "Black holes in the LHC particle accelerator?" and "Blue flashes from the cosmos - the hunt for cosmic particles." More information (in German):
  6. Astronomy Day 2009
    The Excellence Cluster Universe, TUMLab and Technical University of Munich are working with the Deutsches Museum to dedicate a day to astronomy, hosting many events and activities in the building. More information (in German):
  7. Long Night of the Museums
    17 October 2009. A marathon observation session using portable telescopes.
  8. Educational Programmes
    Ranging from "training educators" to sessions for the whole family. More information (in German):
  9. Astronomy Courses with the Technical University of Munich
    Opportunities for school children to learn about the night sky, telescopes, astronomical imaging and remote observations. More information (in German):

For more information, visit Please be aware that the content is in German.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

University of Texas at San Antanio (UTSA) Celebrates IYA 2009


An interesting IYA 2009 promoting session has been arranged by the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy and these sessions are to be held at the end of the every month starting from February 2009. The first session "Friday Nights, Celestial Lights!" was a grand successful event, which was held from 6:30 p.m. onwards on Friday, Feb. 27 with a free screening of "Cosmic Voyage" in the Science Building Theater (2.01.12) on the 1604 Campus.

In these sessions
UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy invites public to UTSA Science Building to view a multimedia presentation, to observe through the telesccopes of the department and to learn about astronomy and IYA 2009. Admission will totally be free, of course.


"An interesting overview of the universe", the film narrated by actor Morgan Freeman was first shown in IMAX theaters. It is planned, if the night sky is clear, to enable telescope viewing following the movie at 7:30 p.m. on the Science Building fourth-floor patio. Additionally for sky observation, there will be a 15-inch Newtonian telescope and several 8-inch Cassegrain telescopes. The theater and the roof patio are wheelchair accessible. Therefore anyone could just visit and experience the benefits of IYA 2009 and astronomy with modern facilities and professionals, who will be readily available during the sessions.


With a clear sky, there will be great views of Venus; the crescent moon; the constellations Orion, Gemini, Taurus and others; the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda galaxy. Saturn will be seen at the end of the session at 9:30 p.m.

Apart from this monthly session there would be more opportunities where anyone could get access to the information and activities, especially conducted in affiliation with IYA 2009. Paying tribute to Galileo Galilei's efforts after 400 years, UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy have arranged a variety of scenarios and projects to improve the understanding of Astronomy and IYA 2009 in general. According to the agenda, there are more educational activities for children and families, telescopic observation and star-gazing, multimedia, screening of films, professional lectures in the long run to happen.

The ultimate target of the series is to communicate the impact of astronomy on society and culture over the last 400 years, while sparking interest in astronomy by a new generation of space explorers. The sky is always ready for those who want to learn more about the universe.

The Universe, Yours to Discover

Stay tuned with updates:

e-mail Daniel Boice, Eric Schlegel, or Mark Jurena

MiraCosta College is on its way to unveil spectacular mural-sized images

MiraCosta College now reserves the privilege of hosting the unveiling of 2 new mural-sized images of the famous spiral galaxy M 101 (Messier 101). The unveiling will be from NASA's Three Great Observatories: namely The Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Updates/ Reports

There was a public talk by Dr. Michelle Thaller of the California Institute of Technology on Friday, February 27, at 7:30 p.m. in the gym at MiraCosta, 1 Barnard Drive, Oceanside and this was followed by a star-gazing party where the attendees got an opportunity to enjoy the starry night skies with MiraCosta's telescopes and other facilities. The admission was free for anyone and that was aimed at popularizing the IYA 2009 activities and having a general impression on public.

It was also highlighted that the free distribution of a limited number of 8”x10” lithographs of M101 drew much attention to the event. Lithographs were issued on first-come first-served basis. However the images are on display at MiraCosta throughout the year 2009.

Additional detail is available from MiraCosta astronomy professor Rica Sirbaugh French at (760) 757-2121, ext. 6506.