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 !

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Fiami Sent me a Christmas Gift for IYA2009 : The Lives of Galileo

This was the most amazing bit of highlight that I've got at the moment. It is all about Fiami and his generosity. Yep, he send me a hard copy of his book "Lives of Galileo". I received the English version during this Christmas week, and I was very delighted to have received it. I'm sure I'll never ever forget this in my life. I've also attached the images of the book and you can browse them here. Credit should go to my Uni friend Lakitha for photos.

I have been trying to get this amazing science, astronomy much popularized among all. Therefore I believe Fiami's this exceptional service should be highly valued and appraised, for Fiami, himself has devoted to the course of popularization of astronomy by publishing a book, which depicts the world history and he takes the reader on a tour to different parts of human history with Galileo.
fiami, iya2009, lives, galileo, galilei

Galileo Galilei, whom after the IYA2009 has most been talked about, is significantly brought closer to general public by Fiami. Fiami gretely contributed to IYA2009 with his comic book "The Lives Of Galileo" and his comic book was translated to over 10 languages worldwide, thus boosting the meaning and theme of IYA2009,:- Discovering the universe yourself !!

fiami, iya2009, lives, galileo, galilei

In addition I take this opportunity to thank and congratulate Fiami for the service he's rendered to everybody !!

You can also browse for detailed stuff for Fiami's site

Merry Christmas with IYA2009

This is the Christmas season, and it's so much special because of this is IYA2009 !!
A Christmas in the International Year of Astronomy, However these are late wishes from me to you all !!

This was due to my absence in online during the Christmas season, In fact I went to Southeastern Sri Lanka for the small break I had. I went with my friends down to Tangalle, a coastal area some 220Km far from capital Colombo.

Merry, Christmas,  IYA2009

And I have good NEWS, The skies in Tangalle were clearer and less polluted. I looked at the the heavens so eagerly grabbing the pure sight which is not polluted with human activity, as in Colombo. We also enjoyed the beaches and had a fine visit in Tangalle and I believe this trip to Tangalle brought me an insight in IYA2009, which was finding a perfect place for observation,

I'm pretty sure I'll visit this place again with more equipment and a crew to observe the better skies.

However these are my seasonal greetings for you in this IYA2009

Merry Christmas folks !!
Joyeux Noël!
Frohe Weihnachten !!
Wesołych Świąt!
Buon Natale!
Feliz Natal!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

IYA2009 Closing Ceremony

Preliminary IYA2009 Closing Ceremony Programme


10:00-13.30 REGISTRATION

Session I. Welcome & the IYA2009

14:00-15:00 Welcome addresses:

Università di Padova Rector; Padova Mayor; W. Erdelen (UNESCO); R. Williams (IAU President); Tommaso Maccacaro (INAF President), Italian University & Research Minister *

15:00-15:30 Catherine Cesarsky: "Overview of IYA2009"

15:30-16:00 COFFEE BREAK

Session II IYA2009 in the World

16:00-16:20 Pedro Russo: "Coordinating IYA2009"

16:20-16:40 Lars Lindberg Christensen: "What Worked Best in IYA 2009"

16:40-18:10 Six 15-minutes talks by SPoCs: "IYA2009 Activities & their Impact"

Dr. Claudio Moises Paulo (Mozambique); Ms. Hoda El-Mikaty (Egypt); Prof. Maria Cristina Pineda (Honduras) Dr. Nguyen Quynh Lan (Viet Nam); Dr. Irina Vavilova (Ukraine); Prof. Ranjeev Misra (India)

18:10-18:20 Reynald Seznec (President and CEO of Thales Alenia Space)



Session III. Legacy of Galileo

9:00-9:30 Francesco Palla: "Stars & Planets of Galileo"

9:30-10:00 Paolo Rossi: "Galileo and the Development of Scientific Thought"*

10:00-10:30 George Coyne: "Galileo & the Church: Lessons Learned"

10:30-11:00 COFFEE BREAK

Session IV. Science & Society

11:00-11:30 TBD

11:30-12:00 Norio Kaifu: "Impact of Astronomy and IYA2009 on Asian Society"

12:00-12:30 George Miley: "Importance of Science Education to Society"

12:30-14:00 LUNCH

Session V. Astronomy After the IYA

14:00-14:30 Isabelle Grenier: "Astronomy at all Wavelengths"

14:30-15:00 Roberto Gilmozzi: "Large Ground-based Optical Telescopes"

15:00-15:30 Ron Ekers: "Large Radio Astronomy Projects"

15:30-16:00 COFFEE BREAK

16:00-16:30 Antonella Nota: "Future of Space Astronomy"

16:30-17:00 Robert Williams: "The IAU & Astronomy After the IYA2009"

17:05 Closure of the IYA2009

Browse more stuff @

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

9 Days left in IYA2009

There are only 9 days left for this so cherished IYA2009. In fact it was a great year right from the beginning. In Sri Lanka I can recall how the things got kicked off in January 2009.

First we had the partial solar eclipse in January on 26th. Then came the green comet Lulin, then a lot of cornerstone and special IYA2009 projects also came into effect. Afterwards, the Hundred Hours of Astronomy / 100HA was an amazing experience with the heavens.

Meantime a wide range of outreach projects also took place, you can browse the whole archive here and I'm just rushing through the key events that took place locally and globally. We also conducted seasonal Observation Camps for the benefit of school children and amateur astronomers.

Eyes on the skies was also hit with huge attention during the course of popularizing the IYA2009 and Galileo's 400-year-old legacy the Galileoscope. Many countries issued stamps (Malta/ Italy) and even coins (Australian Royal Mint) in celebration of this mammoth milestone of astronomy. Of course you can browse this blog's archive and found out the stories themselves, that I have blogged earlier.

Globe at Night, From Earth to the Universe and other IYA2009 projects were successful although there were some problems from weather.

We had also the chance of witnessing the eclipse which was on last July.

In September 2009 we had the largest IYA project of Sri Lanka which was Star Party 2009, organized by Ananda College and Mahamaya Girls College. It was also a victory that we were able to feature Star Party 2009 as a Galilean Nights project although the majority of Galilean Nights was held in October.

We also did a podcast for 365days of astronomy and it was the very 1st podcast done by Sri Lanka for this podcast series. We also continued the weekly radio program on Astronomy "Taru Widu Saraniya" @ SLBC. SkyLK was the first astronomy resource for Sri Lankans right from the beginning of IYA2009, providing people with astronomy. IYA2009 news and knowledge.

Thus IYA2009 is coming to the end, Only 9 days left and many of the Earthlings were able to observe the skies and get some know-how than they did previously, discovering the universe on their own.

I feel gkad to have blogged for IYA2009 and being the blogger from Sri Lanka for IYA2009, contributing to the internet with updated details on the niche !!!

Long Live IYA2009 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Another Interesting Story for IYA2009 from Jam Jamam

This is such a wonderful story that I came to know yesterday from my Facebook friend Jam Jamam, I thought you guys would also like to hear it and am just gonna blog about it.

The wonderful day was last Friday, to be precise the 11th of December 2009. Jam and his friends have had a wonderful session of observation and analysis with sophisticated equipment. I believe the session had been so exciting and is really appealing to me, who has never been with such high-tech astronomy stuff so far, In his gallery Jam had uploaded those pictures, he's taken during the unforgettable night.

From his location @ DSO, Normandy, France Jam conducted all this stuff and here are the images of them.

The above image is the conrtol room and here you can see Jam is more concentrating on the screen on left rather than the other, which portrays the Facebook page. The left screen features the Rosette nebula and see guys, what an incredible photo it is !!

Above is the chamber allocated for the telescope and as per Jam the temperature inside was 4 degrees Celsius.

And next is a raw image that Jam's taken featuring Rosette Nebula.
I hope that it won't take Jam a long time to process and decipher the valuable data embedded in those images.. Jam's smart !!

Below is the famous Orion nebula through Jam's equipment. (Focus on the belt to see the nebula, not the whole constellation)

Here you go through the Horse Head nebula, wonderful !! (Rotate it 90 degrees anticlockwise to get the usual image)

However the analyzed data will be featured on Jam's website at and you are encouraged to pay a visit and browse a lot of astronomy data !!

Thank you again Jam for sharing the story !!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Celebrating Sir Arthur C Clarke's 92nd Birth Anniversary

I believe he's the person of the last century. The mastermind who revolutionized the process of communication, while visualizing about a realistic futurism. Sir Arthur Clarke has already left his legacies behind for all of us, for the whole humanity. Sri Lanka is today proud to have had such a person as a resident throughout many decades. However I believe that it's the time we paid tribute to him in memory of his contributions and ideas in this context, where the 92nd birth anniversary of Sir Arthur Clarke falls on next 16th. (Just 4 days left).

Sri Lankabhimanya Sir Arthur Charles Clarke was born on 16th December 1917 in Minehead, England. Then onwards he led a "diverse career" in his own words, being a space promoter, science popularizer, underwater explorer, and a Sci-Fi author. Well, I don't mean to plagiarize what wikipedia has. If you want the bio, go here to wikipedia.
Celebrating Sir Arthur C Clarke's 92nd Birth Anniversary
However I'm happy that Sir Clarke's last wish (Achieving lasting peace in Sri Lanka) out of his 3 wishes on his 90th birthday, has today come true. May the other 2 will come true sooner rather than later !!

As I guess, locally there would be some programs to celebrate the 92nd birth anniversary of Sir Clarke. Especially as this is IYA2009, there could be interesting turnouts to happen in felicitating Sir Arthur Clarke. Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, (ACCMT) should lead this ceremonies as far as I'm concerned. However it doesn't matter whoever pays tribute as long as Sir Clarke is cherished.

So guys, my wish in the end is that you blog about Sir Clarke on your blogs during this week.
Let as many people as possible to discover the importance of contributions that he had rendered.
I encourage everybody to blog about Sir Clarke celebrating his 92nd Birth Anniversary.

And let me know you idea on that suggestion as well.

Here is Sir Clarke making his speech on his 90th B'day (16th December 2007)

More information:

FYOSA Ends with Success Achieved

As you have been aware from my previous posts, FYOSA (Forty Years of Space Age & Beyond) took place at the premises of Royal College, Colombo as one of the key IYA2009 projects of Sri Lanka. The FYOSA proved to be a magnificent collaboration of astronomy and had a massive multitude of 6000+ visitors during its 2-day duration from 8th to 9th December.

FYOSA was basically conducted with 3 segments which were a workshop, a Sci-Fi competition and a Moon rock exhibition, which showcased stardust from legendary Apollo 11.

Here you can watch the trailer of FYOSA and you can watch it here...

More details would be found here at Thilina's blog..

Friday, December 11, 2009

Recording Taru Widu Saraniya The Astronomy Colloquium on Radio @ SLBC

Apart from the special happening of my blog's celebrating its 1st anniversary there was also another news to blog about. It was the recording session we had @ SLBC (Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation) yesterday evening.

I think you guys are aware of Tharu Widu Saraniya, of which I've blogged before in a previous post, which is here.

The radio broadcast is conducted by Chinthaka Weerakoone, a 3rd-year medical student of University of Sri Jayawaradanepura, Colombo. Tharu Widu Saraniya is broadcast once a week on Wednesdays from 4:30 pm onwards in the local radio channel "Swadeshiiya Sewaya" via FM 90.3 and 97.3

Except Chinthaka Weerakoone, himself there were 3 other contributors for the recording of radio broadcast including me. We were Prasanna Deshapriya, (me) Hasitha Karunarathne and Madusha Dedigamuwa from SkyLK. I represented Mathematical & Astronomical Society of University of Colombo.

Altogether there were about 6 recordings and we talked about modern trends of astronomy such as the up coming Sir Clarke's 92nd birth anniversary on 16th December 2009. We also discussed about the latest finding that reveals that CH4 / Methane of Mars is originated from a metabolic process of existing life. We also shared our ideas about 2012 hoax of word's end and lot of stuff.

So guys, you too can listen to the radio broadcast at above mentioned time lines. Then let us know what you think and moreover you can stand a chance to win an "Ahasa ' magazine for yourself if you answer the question asked at the end of the program.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

1st Anniversary of IYA2009 Astronomy Sri Lanka Blog

Happy Anniversary !!!

Guys, I'm so happy today as today marks the 365th day since the start of this blog. In other words, this IYA2009 blog celebrates its 1st anniversary today. Yes, literally I started this task of blogging on 10th December 2008. You can refer to the archives in this blog for verification !! It's been a whole year full of exciting IYA endeavors throughout !!

I feel it's exciting to be a blogger of astronomy as you have updated news regularly to blog about.

Initially this blog was started as a my own idea and I tired to blog as frequent as possible updating you people with regular news regrading IYA2009. Right from the beginning there were a lot of people who were supportive for my task of blogging. They include Prof. Kavan Ratnatunga, the SPoC of national node of Sri Lanka, Mr. Thilina Heenatigala, the national node secretary, Mr. Hasitha Karunaratne and Mr. Anuradha Jayathilake the webmasters of and many others to whom my sincere thank goes out to.

1st Anniversary of IYA2009 Astronomy Sri Lanka Blog

I'd also thank you people the community around me for encouraging me with your valuable ideas via comments and keeping me up throughout the blogging. Therefore it's my sincere wish that you would join hands with me in this endeavor of promoting and sharing stuff for IYA2009.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

CH4 on Red Planet; Mars has origins of life or water, or both: Researches Suggest

According to a latest research Methane (Chemical Formula CH4; where 4 is sub-scripted) on Mars comes as a result of a meteorite impact taken place many eras ago, is no longer valid. New hypotheses include either of following candidates or both may be.

The first idea is that CH4 could be a by-product of some metabolism, happening with animalcules on Red Planet and the other suggestion of the research says it could be a consequence of Martian seismic activity.

Initially Methane on Mars was detected a decade back in 1999 and again at regular intervals. However there was not strong suggestion earlier about the origin of the organic gas CH4 on Mars.

CH4 on Red Planet Mars has origins of life or water, or both: Researches Suggest
The lifetime of Martian Methane is not longer than few centuries as an atmospheric chemical reaction depletes it together with the sunlight.

The research was conducted by Imperial College London.

Therefore this would be a god news for all of you to enjoy !!

Read more stuff here with Universe Today.

2009 Geminids Meteor Shower: A Chance not to be missed in IYA2009

Guys, Get ready have your stuff arranged outdoors, Make the Binos ready !!!

Well, you might ask me what's the hack's going on and what I'm so much impressed about, Yes it's a big thing.. A bigger thing compared to past years, The Geminids on the Way, Hopefully as per the calculations the Geminids 2009 will likely to be more happening. Yep the best meteor shower in whole IYA2009, is about to show off.

Conditions will be ideals for you if you're located in North America, nut if you aren't don't give up I say. It would be a long cold night probably there in the US during next few days. As per the Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, the peak of 2009 Geminids meteor shower will peak on 13th and 14th of December 2009. Let's see what the International Meteor Organization, has got to say,. They say that the maximum activity should occur around 12:10 a.m. EST (0510 UT) on Dec. 14th 2009.

Now let's see what Geminids is all about. In fact it's 3200 Phaethon which is the matter of focus.
It's now a dead comet that orbited the sun and has evolved into a stream of star dust today. As the Earth makes its way around the sun, the 3200 Phaethon is encountered during mid-December. Apparently the 3200 Phaethon, which is nothing more than a piece of rocks stuff makes its presence in the foreground of constellation Gemini, hence the name Geminids is coined.

Here is a graph plotted by Bill Cooke in order to have an idea on how the meteor shower will evolve and has already evolved throughout the decades. According to the latest data, one could assume that there would be 140-200 counts per hour during the peak as 3200 Phaethon is passed with its celestial debris.

2009 Geminid Meteor Shower: A Chance not to be missed in IYA2009
Have a break and Enjoy the Geminids from your end !!

I'm pretty sure this would prove to be an unforgettable experience for all in this later part of IYA2009..

Galileoscope Another Legacy of IYA2009

It seems like that IYA2009 is leaving us with a lot of legacies left behind. I think many of you guys have experienced Galilean moments and funny moments in this IYA2009. However for us Sri Lankans it was unable to get Galileoscopes and even IYA2009 Firstscope as a legendary tool and as well as a souvenir to cherish the International Year of Astronomy 2009. I tired to get them down via the national node but the efforts didn't succeed.

However I believe that there are ample of people with Galileoscopes with them at the moment,
Therefore I'm posting this youtube video to show you how how to assemble and utilized, mount the Galileoscope out of the pack. This clearly shows how it's done perfectly.

Of course, you might wonder what could be seen with a Galileoscope ?

Yes it's so amazing that IYA2009 has been able to replicate astronomy genius Galileo's telescope with today's material. You can observe the crater of Moon, the phases of Venus, the Jovian Jupiter complete with Galilean satellites, Saturn's rings and many celestial and heavenly objects that are too much faded/ invisible to be seen with naked eye. I thank for the collective efforts of International Astronomical Union (IAU), United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

So here is the video....

Furthermore, as I believe this video will be able to give an insight and reflect the IYA2009's legacy Galileoscope for the people who are unable to have it so far. Everyone is encouraged to get a Galileoscope and go out in the night for observing heavens even in this latter past of IYA2009. (See: only 22 days or just 3 weeks left in this IYA2009 ) Hurry up guys !! Grab your IYA2009 souvenir Galileoscope right now ASAP.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bringing Astronomy to Galle : Another Outreach Project in IYA2009

IYA2009 is now almost at the end. Already more than 11 months have passed my leaving ourselves with amazing legacies to cherish. I'm publishing this post as the 119th post of this IYA2009 blog. In fact this is an update about the latest outreach project I contributed.

I got in touch with this through the Department of Physics, University of Colombo, where I'm reading for my B.Sc at the moment. Especially I would like to thank Ms. Monika Madhavee, Mr. Buddhika Priyasad, Ms. Chethya Vidanapathirana of MAS (Mathematical & Astronomical Society) of UoC (University of Colombo) who made me aware of this outreach project and encouraged me in many instances during the scope of the project.

So let's go ahead with the story...

In fact this project was conducted by the NSF (National Science Foundation), Sri Lanka together with the Universities of Colombo & Kelaniya. I was affiliated to the crew of University of Colombo during this project and contributed to the astronomy segment of the project (Project was comprised of a bunch of sciences such as Chemistry, Physics, Astronomy, Geology, Botany, Zoology, Electronics, etc and each segment was headed by a professional of the field). In our crew, were senior lectures of Department of Physics, Dr. Gamini Piyadasa & Dr. Gomez together with demonstrators from the same department and other departments as well. I had 2 of my batch mates also in our crew, namely Kasun Madushanka & Thilini Dilhara.
Bringing Astronomy to Galle : Another Outreach Project in IYA2009
We left Colombo around 6.30 am in the morning of 3rd of December 2009 towards Galle. As we were supposed to conduct the astronomy session/ segment we brought a Newtonian telescope and some lenses to demonstrate how the idea came into being initially. Our destination was the President's Girls School, Walahanduwa, Galle and we arrived there at about 9.45 am. The school was a government school which was built after the tsunami catastrophe devastated the local coastal area back in 2004.

This outreach project was a workshop, in fact and we had an audience from Grades 6-8. In addition to the girls of President's Girls School, there were other children from nearby schools such as Richmond College, Siri Dhamma Vidyalaya, Sangamitta Vidyalaya, etc. Within a short while after the arrival, were welcome by the School staff and we set up our individual built-in mobile labs where we were gonna demonstrate different science stuff.

I, Kasun & Thilini were the conductors of astronomy session. We mounted the Newtonian telescope that Kasun had bought few months ago and focused it to distant objects. However I should say that we had to use simple language, free of scientific terms as we were dealing with secondary level children. This made it easy for them to understand the session and learn new astronomy stuff.

By the end of the workshop we had 8 sessions with 8 (10-15 members in a single group )groups each of which lasted for about 45 minutes. We educated the children not only on the astronomy and telescope, but also on the grounds of IYA2009 and Galileo with a brief explanation on significance of IYA2009. It was glad to see that the students were being really enthusiastic and learning new things about the most ancient science on Earth.

Moreover we demonstrated how the idea of tele-scope (later known as telescope) came into being with thanks to the efforts of Hans Lippershey and then further developed/ utilized for astronomical means by the great scientist Galileo Galilei, 400 yeas back in 1609.

We conducted the sessions towards 4.00 pm and all of a sudden it began to rain as well. (Refer to weather report on 3rd Dec). In the closing ceremony we distributed valuable gift packs, sponsored by NSF among the participants. We came back to Colombo in the late evening at about 8.00 pm amidst heavy showers.

I hope there would be more programs like this to boost the knowledge of school children on astronomy and science in general in order to make them understand the importance of those fundamental sciences and learn how the nature behaves. So far IYA2009 has been so successful in bringing this out with its unique theme UNIVERSE YOURS TO DISCOVER.