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 !

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

IYA 2009 Official Stamps issued worldwide

Here are some beautiful stamps that have been issued by states of many countries, worldwide in celebration of IYA 2009 and Astronomy in general.

This set of IYA 2009 stamps were issued from KoreaAstronomy IYA 2009 StampsThis amazing IYA 2009 stamp set came from Jersey
Astronomy IYA 2009 Stamps+
Hungary's contribution to IYA 2009 official stamps
Astronomy IYA 2009 Stamps
How Canada involved in IYA 2009 philately project.
Astronomy IYA 2009 StampsIsle of Man also created stamps to feature IYA 2009.

Iceland also did a great role in stamps for IYA 2009
Astronomy IYA 2009 StampsAstronomy IYA 2009 Stamps

Friday, April 17, 2009

Celestial Sphere

Celestial Sphere
Celestial Sphere

Lecturer – J D Prasanna Deshapriya
Event – Observation Camp of Asian International School on March 30, 2009

Have you ever wondered how far the starts really are away from us? Well, what are the closest and most distant stars? If you could provide a better solution for above questions, you are not that far from the correct answer.

If you observe the night skies, it seems that all the stars are same distance away from us. Therefore to make it easy to study, we assume that all the stars lie in a surface of a sphere, whose center is concentric with that of Earth. This sphere is known as “Celestial Sphere”

It is important to understand that each star occupies a unique location of its own, as same as a country does, in the surface of the Earth. The celestial sphere is divided in to 88 parts, each of which contains a constellation.

To identify a location of celestial sphere, we use co-ordination system as same as latitudes and longitudes are used to determine the geographical locations.

Let’s get known more about the geographical co-ordination system. The Earth is divided into two equal parts by the equator. The upper part is called Northern Hemisphere where as the portion, below the equator is called Southern Hemisphere. The lines that are drawn in parallel to the equator are called latitudes and the lines that are perpendicular to the equator are called longitudes. Using this co-ordination system we could explain any single point on the surface of the Earth, since each location has its own attributes of above-mentioned values (latitude & longitude).

Co-ordination Systems of Celestial Sphere

Now, let’s derive a method to explain a location of celestial sphere. In fact there Celestial Hemisphereare two systems in use. These systems help us determine the locations of the stars on the celestial surface.

1. Equatorial Co-ordination system (RA-Dec)

If you could project the attributes of previously discussed terrestrial co-ordination system to the celestial sphere you would get a formal system of co-ordinates for the celestial sphere as well. The celestial equivalent of the equator will be Celestial Equator, where as corresponding components of the latitudes and longitudes will be Declination and Right Ascension (RA-Dec), respectively. Therefore the location of a star will be given in RA and Dec in this system which is known as Equatorial Co-ordination system.

The measurement of declination will be dealt with angles. The values of the declination will be measured as positive (+) if the object/ star is in the northern celestial sphere and the angular values of the southern hemisphere will be assigned a minus (-) value. The measurement of Right Ascension is done by hours. In convention, celestial equator is divided into 24 hours, while an hour is divided into 60 minutes and a minute into 60 seconds.

For example the equatorial co-ordinates of the star Sirius will be RA} 06h 45m and Dec} -16 0 43’

2. Horizontal Co-ordination system (Alti-Azimuth)

Understanding of horizontal co-ordination system is very easy. Suppose you get an object in the sky and you need to find out the horizontal co-ordinates. Measurement is as thus. The value of clockwise angle from north to that object is called as Azimuth of the object. The value of the minimal angle from your horizon will be the altitude of the object.

However the more precise system is RA-Dec system.Celestial Sphere

You might now ask why we need two co-ordination systems. Suppose you told a friend the location of an object with horizontal system. But you need to provide him in detail, the observable time, date and location as well, since the position of the object varies with the time. You have to mention the time as the Earth moves 15 0 per an hour. Thus the location of an abject varies relatively to time. However this change does not affect the Equatorial system, since the system, itself is independent of time.

Equinoxes and Ecliptic

Generally the Sun is considered as a celestial object. But it doesn’t have a unique position in the celestial sphere. However we can draw a line which can illustrate the locations, where the sun will be on. This line or path is called Ecliptic. The Moon and other planets have their trajectories near the ecliptic. When planets are observed, observation should be done in close proximity to ecliptic.

There are two points, where ecliptic crosses the equator. There points are called as equinoxes. The Sun, during its motion arrives at equator from either southern or northern hemispheres. If sun arrived from southern hemisphere, the equinox is called Vernal (March) Equinox, whereas the Sun’s arrival from the northern hemisphere being called as Autumnal (September) Equinox and these arrivals occur on 21st of March and 21st of September respectively.

Technical Words used in Observational Astronomy
1. Zenith – If you draw an imaginary line directly above your head, the point that the line crosses the celestial sphere is called as Zenith.
2. Nadir – If you draw imaginary line directly below your legs, the point that the line crosses the celestial sphere is called as Nadir.
3. Celestial poles – The corresponding poles that you get when the axis of the Earth is extended and celestial sphere rotates around these poles
4. Meridian - The imaginary circle that you get when the north and south of the horizon and Zenith is joined vial a line. This is also called as Hour Circle

Copyrights Reserved: Anandian Astronomical Association (AAA)

Free Education Materials

Please find all the educational materials found at to be copyrights of Anandian Astronomical Association, and are applicable to all the civil laws and duplication, plagiarism or amendments to the original blueprints is strictly prohibited and those who found guilty will be dealt with legally.

1. Celestial Sphere - Click here for PDF
Celestial SphereClick here for HTML data

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cheapest Telescope : IYA FirstScope

IYA 2009 Latest Official Product FirstScope Telescope
IYA 2009 & IYA 2009 Global Sponsor: Celestron proudly present the latest featured official product of IYA 2009, FirstScope Telescope. This standard Dobsonian style telescope is ideal for an amateur and it's so lovely that anyone is attracted to its awesome look. The FirstScope comes with a reflector optical tube with 76 mm aperture.

This handy astronomical telescope is easy to carry outdoors and use. The user-friendly navigation allows you to direct the tube into whatever direction you like and observe the heavens. What is more exciting is FirstScope is only priced at $ 24.50 (US Currency) plus shipping payments. The FirstScope is available within the IYA 2009 Network. Unfortunately the individual orders are not accepted and the orders should be made via the Single Points of Contacts as bulk orders. IYA 2009 Single Points of Contacts, who are willing to order the telescope should contact Celestron, before 30 June 2009, which is the deadline.

Celestron FirstScope - Order Form

  • Name:
  • Country:
  • Organisation:
  • Shipping Address:
  • E-mail:
  • Telephone:
  • Number of FirstScopes:

Please send the order form as soon as possible (before 30 June 2009) to:

For more information please contact:

Michelle Meskill
Marketing Manager
Tel.: +1-310-328-9560 ext. 205
or visit:

100 HA : Solar Observation Camp By Royal College

100 Hours of Astronomy Sri Lanka
Under one of the key events of the Cornerstone Projects of IYA 2009, and as one of the public involved activities of 100 HA ( 100 Hours of Astronomy ) of Sri Lanka, the Solar Observation Campaign was more highlighted. This Solar Observation Camp was conducted by the members of the Royal College Astronomical Association (RCAS) on the 4th of April 2009 from 1.00 pm to 3.00 pm at the Viharamaha Devi Park, Colombo.
100 HA in Action in Sri Lanka100 HA in Action in Sri Lanka
The amateur astronomers, led by the president Thishan Pavithra did pretty well to add more attraction to this public outreach event, with the aim of popularizing IYA 2009 , Astronomy and 100 HA as well. The crew comprised of 4 members and they educated the general public and children who visited the Viharamaha Devi Park during the time. Since it was a bright Saturday noon a lot of people were there and the efforts were successful enough to have more than 12o people flocked to oberve the Sun.100 HA in Action in Sri Lanka

The team used 3 telescopes, including a Newtonian reflector telescope and a Galilean Refractory telescope for the Observation together with relevant filters to avoid the irreversible100 HA Solar Observation Campaign by Royal College Astronomical Crew damage, caused to eyes when observed directly.

Thus one of the 100 HA activities of Sri Lanka concluded with much enthusiasm and joy.100 HA in Action in Sri Lanka
100 HA in Action in Sri Lanka

It's great that IYA 2009 has gone so well..and you can visit the Largest IYA 2009 project of Sri Lanka which is Star Party 2009

Moreover you can come over here to Sri Lanka for the solar eclipse which is happening in January 2010. The official Eclipse 2010 blog is here.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

100 HA celebrated in Nepal with much enthusiasm

The Nepal celebrated 100 HA (100 Hours of Astronomy ) from April 2-5 , 2009 with a variety of activities, with more public outreach, as just as the 100 HA was meant to be. Following were of major focus of Nepalese IYA 2009 activities related with 100 HA.

2nd April - Screening of "The Eyes on The Skies" movie at St. Xavier's College, Kathmandu
3rd April - Postponement of arrangements to next day, due to bad weather.
4th April - 1. An interactive program at Celebration Co-Ed School
  • Screening "The Eyes on The Skies"
  • Lectures on Astronomy and Solar ObservationNepal Astronomical Society (NASO)
  • Showcase of videos on Sun
2. Star party at Takshashila Academy : Solar Observation with 4" Newtonian

Thus 100 HA, one of the key Cornerstone projects of IYA 2009 concluded successfully in the Nepalese sense.

Credits: Suresh Bhattarai of Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO)

See more in detail:

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Solar Observation Camp at Colombo

Solar Observation at Colombo
In connection with IYA 2009 Cornerstone project, 100 Hours of Astronomy, a solar observation session has been arranged here in Colombo, Sri Lanka. The observation session is aimed at popularizing the IYA 2009 and hitting the general crowd with this brand new idea. Please find below the schedule.

Date - Saturday 04th April 2009 Venue - Vihara Maha Devi Park Duration - From 11.00 a.m to 2.00 p.m.

Invitation is free for anyone.
Be there to witness the helioscopy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

IYA 2009 Celebrated by AIS, Colombo

The Science Union of Asian International School, Colombo (AIS) organized last Monday, an Observation camp to highlight the IYA 2009, taking place worldwide. I felt glad as this was the third Observation Camp that I was contributing just within 10 Days. The Camp was conducted by the alumni of Anandian Astronomical Association, Ananda College, Colombo 10.

The camp started off at 7.00 pm on the 30th of Maech 2009 with a lecture on Introduction to Astronomy and this was delivered by Mr. Lasitha Senarathne, a 3rd year student of University of Colombo. Then Mr. Hasitha Karunarathe, an IT student of APIIT and who is also the webmaster of explained how the programme would be going through in next few hours.
IYA 2009 Observation Camp at AIS
After a short while I, Prasanna Deshapriya also lectured the AIS students on Celestial Sphere and there was a great response from the audience as the attendees were eager to the exposure of Observational type exploration, on which they didn't have much experience. Then the dinner time arrived and sky was getting better, although it was more gloomy and cloudy in the evening. With our telescope we were able to catch the Moon which was setting from the West. Thus we were able to let AIS students observe the Lunar and they could possibly see the craters of the Moon as well.

After the dinner there was a Guessing Game which which took all the gathering with amazement. It was like this. A volunteer was asked to come forward in the beginning and he was given a key-word IYA 2009 Observation Camp at AISrelated to Astronomy and all he had to do was give cluses to the audience without revealing the keyword. The student who first correctly got the keyword was awarded with a small gift ( Chocolate) and now it was his chance to repeat the game, provided with a new keyword.

Then there was a brief discussion on "Eye and Optics inside" conducted by Mr. Kusal Weerasinghe a medical faculty student of University of Colombo and it seemed more appealing to the audience of AIS. They were further informed about IYA - International Year of Astronomy and the story behind that. Next I gave an introduction to Using Sky Chart and taught them how to identify the stars and constellations during the night.

We also got the students and teachers of AIS to observe the Saturn and it's belts during its position in zenith. The telescopic functions were done by Mr.Varuna Gunasekara and Mr. Pulasthi Kanaththage who were both past presidents of Anandian Astronomical Association.

After all there came the most-waited event "The Lander Activity". The AIS students were divided into 4 groups and each group had to make a lander, whose landing should be able to survive the egg which was inside. Provided with the scissors, celo-tapes, glue, cardboard, IYA 2009 Observation Camp at AIScotton-wool and other needy, the groups performed pretty well under the inspection of Mr.Kusal Weerasinghe and Mr. Madusha Dedigamuwa. However amazingly the 4 landers survived their eggs as dropped from the 4th flour of the tallest building in AIS.

We called the halt to the Camp at midnight precisely at about 00:15 am next day (31st March 2009) as they organizers asked us to do so, since there were unavoidable security circumstances.

However although the Observation camp lasted for 5 hours the AIS students seemed to have experienced a new dimention of knowledge and fun, which was indeed out of the box for them.

Contributors of Anandian Astrnomical Association:
IYA 2009 Observation Camp at AIS
1. Mr.Varuna Gunasekara
2. Mr. Pulasthi Kanaththage
3. Mr. Lasitha Senarathne
4. Mr. Kusal Weerasinghe
5. Mr. Hasitha Karunarathe
6. Mr. Madusha Dedigamuwa
7. Mr. Prasanna Deshapriya