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, October 31, 2010

Starry Night in Kandy | Another Outreach Event with MAS

Last Friday gave me the hope of the beginning of a fresh weekend, getting started with an astronomy event. It was the members of the Mathematical & Astronomical Society of University of Colombo (MAS), back in outreach action. We had been invited to contribute to the 'Starry Night 2010' organized by St. Anthony's College, Kandy. Basically this 'Starry Night' focused on 2 segments being Astronomy Quiz & Workshop, first of which is an evaluation of observation based astronomy knowledge in general and the latter was aimed for providing more insight into astronomy and observation, particularly aimed at newbies of astronomy.

Our outreach task was to conduct the astronomy workshop and the quiz related observation sessions. As a matter of fact I'd like to note that this is the normal procedure every school adopts when it comes to organizing such an event. This is reflected with my experience with such astronomy campaigns in recent times, You always have a bi-dimensional workout, which has a quiz and a workshop. Moreover this was the twice in a row, that I would be getting involved with the same annual event, organized by the same school. I was there last time too, but I'm afraid I haven't made a blog post about that :(

We left Colombo, actually the University premises, around 1.00 pm starting our way up amidst the hills to Kandy. There were 9 of us, as contributors representing MAS, plus Mr. Jayathu Fernando, a Research Scientist of The Arthur C Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies (ACCIMT), and his family members joining Starry Night 2010 and we were quipped with 2 telescopes + few Meade binoculars, which were the primary resources we were having for this outreach maneuver.

Here are our members that contributed.

  • Prasanna Deshapriya (me)
  • Chethya Vidanapathirana
  • Virajith Samarasinghe
  • Saman Aravinda
  • Nisal Samararatne
  • Gayan Anushka
  • Muditha Bandara Rathnayaka
  • Chamika Niranjan Goonetilaka
  • Chanya Deshani Subasinghe Arachchige

You always know that you can't count on weather, it's a key fact that is unpredictable. It was the same monster that came against us last Friday evening. We managed to arrive at Kandy around 8.00 pm despite the rain fall and some stopping-bys that had to be made on the way. The students started off Starry Night 2010 as soon as we arrived and the first was the lecture by Mr.Jayathu Fernando as the chief guest on instruments, used with astronomy. However the skies remained cloudy and it was rare that you could spot any star at all. It took our hope of observations away and seemed that we would have to be just stick to indoor sessions, which was what actually happened in the end.

Still we conducted the workshop by having separate sessions, covering Observation Astronomy, Star Maps for Dummies, and much more detailed discussion on Rayleigh scattering. There was also a Q&A session allowing the students to raise whatever the questions they had and to have their doubts cleared. But it was really bad that no observation could be made, but we were looking forward for better skies even in the later morning hours, but the waiting never paid off.

In addition to astronomy, Antonians didn't forget to add some variety to the event, with their talented musicians and the great magic show, which took everyone by amusement. It was the first time I saw a magic show during an astronomy event. Hats-off to the dedicated Antonian guys for their great organizing efforts !

In the end we contributed to the last round of the quiz, (but this turned out to be the penultimate in the end) which was a photo based round, where the students were supposed to recognize the projected photos of nubulae, galaxies, and other stellar / extra-terrestrial objects. Soon, it was the time for the announcement of the winners, but we, who were also held the quiz-masters of this quiz, were told that there had been a tie of scores of 2 teams, so that a winner for the quiz would not be announced. Since there was no regulation on a tie-break had been introduced prior, we opted in for 'another' final round and announced that. I prefer calling this last round as '6-photo-slider' since the way it was prepared was so unique. Finally the team from the Ananda College won the quiz and the Isipathana College emerged runners-up.

It was around late noon on Saturday the 30th (just before the Halloween), when we were back in Colombo, after some involvement with astronomy and traveling within a 24-hour period.


Please await the photos and crucial '6-photo-slider'

Friday, October 29, 2010

2 Sri Lankans Visit Europe

In recent times there were a lot of conferences, exhibitions and awareness programs taking place around the globe just focusing on astronomy and related issues. You might remember CAP2010 which was held in South Africa sometime ago in this year. I think this kind of programs help boost the world of astronomy and they help people to gain more insight into this wonderful science.

Well, today I'm gonna focus this post on a couple of events, being JENAM 2010 & Space Generation Congress 2010 (astronomy and space issues related respectively) and their Sri Lankan participation. They were held in Europe within last 8 weeks.

In fact 2 Sri Lankans made their way to Europe for these events representing Sri Lanka and basically I believe that it's been a great chance for our country to be noticed in terms of astronomy and space.

Thilina Heenatigala
The first of these was JENAM - Joint European National Astronomy Meeting, held in Lisbon, Portugal starting from 06th to 10th of last September. Thilina Heenatigala, Secretary of Sri Lanka Astronomical Association represented Sri Lanka and he presented a session on GAM - Global Astronomy Month - 'Inaugurating a New Annual Celebration of the Universe'. In addition to that there were manifold topics, being discussed on the grounds of IYA2009, its various projects and beyond IYA as well.It is also noteworthy that there was a Book Launch "Postcards from the Edge of the Universe" at the ESO stand in collaboration with JENAM 2010.

Yohan Ferreira
The other event was Space Generation Congress 2010, held in Prague, Czech Republic from 23-25 September, 2010. Space Generation Congress is the annual congress organized by The Space Generation Advisory Council, which is a global non-governmental organisation, aiming to represent students and young space professionals to the United Nations, States, and space agencies.Yohan Ferreira, who is the SGAC Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific represented Sri Lanka in for this.

I think we can look forward for more opportunities similar to this, so that we can better showcase how Sri Lanka perceives and contributes to astronomy and space related issues, which in the long run can benefit everybody. Of course hats off to the two guys for their contribution rendered and looking forward to more input....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Star Party 2010

       Star Party 2010Just as its name states STAR PARTY is not merely a function of night sky observation, but an aesthetic introduction to the field of Astronomy, an enigmatic experience for an apprentice, unforgotten night for everybody participating in. In Sri Lanka Star Party is the dream of every stargazer, not only to witness but to get involved. When we embarked upon Star Party in 2004, with the Astronomical Society of Mahamaya Girls’ College, Kandy, being the pioneers of Observation Competitions in South Asia region, it was visible that a gleaming future of Sri Lankan astronomy was lying ahead. Consequently this turned out to be an official launch of a mammoth event of local astronomy calendar.

Even though stargazing assemblages are found frequent in foreign countries, they’re rarely seen in Asian continent. Due to the inadequate allocations and investments in Astronomy field, still a slowly development is in progress. What is more amazing in Star Party is that both amateurs and veterans are allowed to employ their practical aspects of astronomy, enabling their wisdom to pacify the unique taste of this ancient science. Inculcating young astronomers to be accredited professionals is also one of our goals. Now you shall find it easy to understand our definition of Star Party.
Let’s take a brief look at the format of Star Party. In the beginning according to their schools, all the participating school students are divided into teams, each having 5 members. And then there are observation sessions to compete at, inclusive of lunar observation, constellation observation, deep-sky observation plus a quizzical evaluation in the end.
Ultimately the most outstanding team, which has scored highest overall marks, will be awarded champions.

And Star Party is back,

Date : 15th Oct 2010 
Time : 4:30 p.m. local time 
Venue : University of Peradeniya, Kandy, Sri Lanka
Targeted Audience : School Children/ Amateur Astronomers

More Information can be obtained from info [at] and don't forget to check out the official website http://StarParty.LK , This ime there will be an online quiz as well for anybody to take part and end up winning prizes in addition to the webcast [http://Live.StarParty.LK] that will also be on air via the website during the Star Party time