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Monday, April 11, 2011

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. In fact we had conducted an astronomy camp for them previously as well, back in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy and this was the appearance of Old Anandian Astronomical Association in AIS premises for the second time, despite there were some failed attempts to have a camp in 2010. I felt great that we had a Go this time.   

Yep, me I know the answer !

I must mention that we had only few hours to go through and complete the program as it was not possible to have the camp going on till the dawn of the following day, as it happens usually in all other camps. I think this must have been due to the restrictions imposed by this school taking some security matters into consideration. Therefore we had the tough goal of equipping the attendees with as much astronomy knowledge and practical experience as possible during this short period.
We at work ..

First there was an introductory lecture by Hasitha Karunaratne, one of our members and it was followed by my session on Celestial Sphere, It was kind of a deja-vu for me as I delivered the same lecture at AIS in 2009 and however this time, there were more questions and the session was rather interactive with a great feedback from the audience. Soon it was the time for dinner and we were able to get out of the indoors and check out the skies. Needless to say there was significant light pollution as the location was in Colombo suburbs and luckily Moon was there reflecting the light so brightly than previous days, I hope you are aware of the Super full moon phenomenon which was going to take place few days ahead. Actually on the other hand this moon was a constraint for us preventing better observation of other celestial bodies.

Clouds disturbing the observation as well as the excessive light of 'super full moon'

Ramidu Mirissage, during his session

This is how you team-work

Afterward there was another session by Ramidu Mirissage on Astro-photography. This guy had enormous experience capturing stars and wildlife for many years and he was savvy about optics and different parameters needed for astro-photography. This session paved the way to the practical activity we had outside. We managed to set up the telescopes and explained their functionalities and let them observe Moon and Saturn. Additionally we used binoculars as well and ideally Orion constellation was visible at that time and the students had the chance to observe Orion nebula as well. Meantime there were numerous questions being asked on different aspects like cosmology and especially Pluto, whilst some were very keen on using the star chart and getting used to it.      
OK guys, what's the plan ??

Everyone ready with their Landers, Check the clock as well

We're a TEAM
Team !

Finally we had the egg-lander competition which we use to have at many astronomy camps and it was really interesting to see students grouping themselves and brainstorming in the process of creating their own lander which would host the egg to safe land when dropped from the 3rd floor of the highest building situated beside. Their had their own interpretations on as to why they had designed different parts of their craft and how they functioned. It was amazing that some of the groups had related basic concepts of aerodynamics when creating their model of the lander. As far as I'm concerned there were 3 groups who had their lander survive the fall from the 3rd floor in the end.
Ramidu & me, whilst the Lander competition was in progress

Happy :-)

It was a shot 6-hour period that went so fast with fun, joy and of course education. Special thanks should go to the principal & staff and Pamudu Tennakoon of AIS.
Landers in exposition : I'm sure NASA guys would love to check these out.

"This is how you make Landers"  :)

The following were the crew of Old Anandian Astronomical Association who conducted the camp. Further there were members of Anandian Astronomical Association supporting us in the course.
A view from the 3rd floor before the landers being dropped.

  • Anuradha Jayathilake
  • Bhagya Alwis
  • Hasitha Karunaratne
  • Prasanna Deshapriya
  • Ramidu Mirissage
  • Surath Bandaranayake
  • Tharaka Abeyrathne