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 !

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Pictures from Venus Transit 5/6 June 2012

Well, it didn't turn out to be so good in turn of the weather, and we had an irritating blockage of clouds over the Easter horizon from Trincomalee, Sri Lanka. We arrived in the observation site around 4.45 am in the morning and were eagerly waiting for the sun rise, Alas !! What we had for our welcome !!!! It was nothing more than a white layer of clouds... And the clouds had the sun imprisoned for almost 2 hours after the dawn and finally it came out of the layer of the clouds but still with a less brightness,

However the Venus transit is still in progress for us in Trincomalee, Sri Lanka and it will last for almost 1 hour more or less. Here I'm posting some pictures of this final Venus transit of the century, taken by me and also some other photos of the outreach campaign we conducted for the school students and people in the areas, It would be great to hear what you guys had been through during the same time, so let's share !!

Above was taken around 7.40 am local time from Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, just above the eastern horizon.
The above was also taken around 8.00 am local time from Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, just above the eastern horizon. 

The above was also taken around 8.10 am local time from Trincomalee, Sri Lanka, just above the eastern horizon.
Some outreach activity photos of  Venus Transit 5/6 June 2012

Please note that prior written permission should be obtained prior to using the images/ pictures given here as they're matter of copyright. 

Trânsito de Vênus, 5/6 de Junho de 2012, ao vivo de Trincomalee 2012''

Olá Pessoal, 

Pena que eu não tive tempo antes para trazer esta notícia antes, sobre o fenômeno histórico, onde pela última vez neste século, assim como em quase todo o nosso tempo de vida. Vênus passará diante do Sol, visto da Terra, ocultando uma pequena parte do disco solar. Eu viajei para Trincomalee na costa leste da ilha (Sri Lnka) só para observar isso alguns segundos mais cedo do que os meus vizinhos em Colombo (Capital do Sri Lanka). Nós (membros do MAS ) estamos trazendo um webcast ao vivo, via streaming de Trincomalee. Vamos, naturalmente, perder os 2 primeiros pontos de contato devido à nossa localização geográfica, porém, poderemos assistir a partir do nascer do sol no horizonte oriental e os pontos 3 e 4 do evento. Estou colocando o link, onde teremos o streaming do trânsito de Vênus . Você tem também a chance de conferir ao vivo, com o streaming abaixo.

Aproveite para compartilhar, desejo-lhe tudo de bom, e um bom clima!

Translation Credit: Hermerio Júnior

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Venus Transit 6th June 2012 Live Webcast/ Streaming from Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

Hello Folks,

Too bad I didn't have time earlier to bring you some early news about this historical phenomenon, where for the last time in this century, as well as in almost all of our life time, Venus makes a transit across solar disk, as seen from the Earth. I've traveled to Trincomalee in the East coast of the island just to observe this a few seconds earlier than my neighbors in Colombo. We (members of MAS) are bringing a live webcast/ streaming from Trincomalee as the event takes place. We will of course miss the first 2 contacts due to our geographical location this time, however we will take it from the sun rise from the eastern horizon to be followed by 3rd and 4th contacts.

Here I'm giving the online link where we will have our Venus transit webpage and you have also the chance of viewing it live from this blog right now.

Enjoy and share and I wish you all good weather !!

Venus Transit 05/06 June 2012, Historical Event of this Century - Don't miss out

What is a transit of Venus?

When Venus passes directly between earth and the sun, we see the distant planet as a small dot gliding slowly across the face of the sun. Historically, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.

When is it?

The next transit of Venus occurs June 5 or 6, 2012, depending on your location. Observers in North America see it the evening of June 5. This will be the last transit of Venus to occur in your lifetime.

Where to Be

Whether and when you can see the 2012 transit of Venus depends on your location. Key highlights include the four "contacts" near the beginning and end of the transit when Venus appears to touch the edge of the sun. Most of North America sees the beginning of the transit in the afternoon and evening (find a clear western horizon!) on June 5, whereas much of Eurasia sees the end of the transit in the morning (find a clear eastern horizon!) on June 6.

For Sri Lanka

Source :

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Golden Moments -5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics

It's always been a pleasant experience cherishing past memories with great happenings. Even now, just a month and a week later, I can be happy going though my own flashback of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics held in Brazil. Blogging requires to be specific sometimes and in this post I will recall about some interesting happenings took place during the 3 days from 19th to 22nd of April 2012. You can always check about the pre-events that preceded the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics and also the event schedule/ program.

I had the pleasure of participating in the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics as an invited speaker as the president of the Mathematical & Astronomical Society of University of Colombo. Having arrived in Brazil for the first time, and being though my first 2 days in Brazil I was slowly having my lessons and learning about the culture and the people, who proved to be very dynamic, spontaneous and friendly as I was progressing with rest of the stay. The hospitality I received was amazing, Professor Marcelo was always making sure I was doing fine and helped me in whatever possible way he could have had, and later as I was traveling in some parts of the Brazil, it proved to be no exception, as the Brazilian hospitality I received was at its best.
My Visa for 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics

Well, Let's get straight into the context, 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics started on the 19th morning inside the cinema hall of the Shopping Boulevard in Campos dos Goytacazes. Saying something about the hosting city, which is usually referred to as Campos, it is located almost in the middle between the cities of Vitória and Rio de Janeiro, which are the metropolitan capitals of Brazilian states of Espirito Santos and Rio de Janeiro respectively. I think you would get to Campos in a 3-hour driver from Rio. In Brazilian Portuguese, Campos means fields and they say Gaytacazes is an Indian tribe that used to live in the area and hence the name Campos dos Goytacazes.

During the Opening Ceremony of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics at Shopping Boulvard, Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, Brazil - People pictured from right to left are, Professor Marcelo Souza from Campos dos Gaytacazes, Brazil, Tamas Ladanyi from Hungary, Johannes Stübler from Austria, Andrea Sanchez-Saldias from Uruguay, Prasanna Deshapriya from Sri Lanka, Dirk Ross from Japan, Dimitri Gadotti from ESO,  Douglas -A representative of Shopping Boulevard, 2 other personnel from Campos dos Goytacazes city.

The audience at the same time: The audience consisted of students, teachers, and citizens of Campos dos Goytacazes

Professor Marcelo Souza, speaking at the opening ceremony
Here you can see the happy face of Professor Marcelo Souza, who is the chief organizer of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics. Also pictured is the Hungarian astro-photographer Tamas Ladanyi from the TWAN- The World At Night project.

Just before the start !
You may see here how crowded the cinema hall was getting just before the start of the opening ceremony. Here you can see Professor Marcelo and some of the members of the Luis Cruls astronomy club as well. I must mention that these guys did an awesome job behind the scenes with so much untiring efforts towards the success of the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics. Thus it is with great gratitude I mention them here for despite their young age they delivered really serious and tough work. I'm really happy to have enjoyed their company throughout my stay in Campos, not only during the meeting, but also prior and post to the event.

Tamas Ladanyi from Hungary - TWAN (The World At Night)
Here you see the first speaker of the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics, Tamas Ladanyi, an astrophotographer from Hungary who also works for the TWAN, specialized in the landscape photography.  During his session he showcased his experience with astrophotography, which was vivid with a lot of fine combinations of skies and landscapes. One of the interesting pieces of his work was the photograph titled in Spanish "Mira mira Mira" (Mira olha Mira em Português) where his daughter Mira, is looking at the red-giant star Mira (a star in the constellation Cetus).
Professor Marcelo performing the interpretation task during the astrophotography workshop of Tamas Ladanyi

During the evening of the second day he also conducted a workshop on using equipment/ gear for astrophotography, touching down many technical specs as well. Then he led an expedition into a darker and distant area of the city with Professor Marcelo to flee from the lights of the city to get involved with more hands-on activity, where he demonstrated exactly the very steps that one needs to follow in taking a decent photo of some celestial object with the inclusion of a landscape as well. I was able to join this expedition and get more insights into my understanding of this beautiful branch of astronomy. Below you will see a picture that Tamas made at the end of the observation session at this remote location, along with all the participants.
Have a thorough look at the southern skies  !!
Southern skies and the participants of the Tamas Ladanyi's workshop -  Tamas himself, Professor Marcelo Souza and Johannes Stübler from Austria are also presented in the picture. (Photo Credit : Tamas Ladanyi)
Me and Tamas Ladanyi
 The second speaker José Carlos Diniz, a Brazilian astronomer from Rio de Janeiro spoke about the difficulties that one must undergo when doing astronomy in Brazil as well as about some determined individuals who have proved themselves exceptional, still to continue practicing astronomy in Brazil despite the various issues. The humorous sense he developed whilst presenting himself added more vibe to his presentation bringing about the ideology of his talk "Astrophotography in Brazil, the victory of passion".

One of the funny slides of José Carlos Diniz  (Photo Credit : Johannes Stübler)
It was really inspirational as José went on to particularly mention how difficult it was for him and his colleagues to find dark areas for observations in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil and how they finally managed to find better areas in the end in the same vicinity with adventures mixed with huge passion, and love for the astronomy.

The next was the presentation of Johannes Stübler, the National Co-ordinator of AWB (Astronomers without Borders) from Austria. Johannes gave an account about his ambassador role in "Living the Idea", traveling from Linz, his home city in Austria across Jordan, Syria and Turkey, promoting the astronomy and trying to get more people, met on the road to look at the skies and get interested. I was convinced that it is a great coincidence that Johannes Stübler also comes from the same city that Johannes Kepler was once living, as I was gathering more information.
Astronomy Outreach - from Orient to Occident (Photo Credit : Johannes Stübler)
 As I had the chance of having the company of Johannes during the meeting, we were sometimes sharing our ideas and experiences and it was fascinating to hear about the AWB Beer they had in Austria for the GAM (Global Astronomy Month) and I think it shows the innovation and creativity, blended with popularizing astronomy among people.

A souvenir I received from Johannes Stübler
Me and Johannes Stübler, he presented me the gift of the raffle draw :)
 Here is another picture taken during the first day of the meeting. Pictured are José Carlos Diniz, Patrick - the Portuguese<>English interpreter throughout the meeting, Norma Reis from Brasilia, Brazil and Oscar Matsuura from São Paulo, Brazil. Look at the variety of people that astronomy could bring together !
Another picture, you add the caption for this !
Dimitri Gadotti, a Brazilian working at ESO in Chile, during his presentation
The talk about the life and work at ESO telescopes in Chile with a focus on E-ELT, ESO's newest challenge, by Dimitri Gadotti was interesting, and curious as I was wondering how they make such great missions possible. It was also my Why for ESO's preference on southern skies, as they produce a lot of sophisticated cutting-edge accessories and equipment in Europe and transport those all the way across Atlantic Ocean and further to Chilean deserts.

“Jorge Marcgrave in Dutch Brazil: his founder role in Astronomy of Brazil and of the New World” - This sounded different for me in the beginning, Dutch Brazil ? Well, as I was through the presentation of Oscar Matsuura, who is a veteran researcher based in São Paulo, Brazil, I managed to figure out answers to my puzzle. He spoke about the pioneering role of Jorge Marcgrave in astronomy in Dutch Brazil or Brasil holandês as it is said in Brazilian Portuguese and about the influence he had on the people of northern parts of Brazil when they were Dutch colonies. Although I've included the Wikipedia link about Jorge Marcgrave here, I'm more than sure the presentation of Oscar was more resourceful.
Oscar Matsuura, and me outside the Shopping Boulevard, Campos
Attendees for the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics waiting inside the Shopping Boulevard, You can also see the telescopes, multimedia, mobile planetarium, belonging to the Louis Cruls Astronomy Club.
Astronomy + Chess : I've always stumbled upon this game whenever I was out of Sri Lanka. I really don't know how I always find a connection with Chess and end up playing it, as the time permits. With me here is Laura from Louis Cruls Astronomy Club with a keen interest in astronomy.
The second day of 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics continued at Campus Guarus do Instituto Federal Fluminense, a new location also close to the city center.

Dr. Robert Zubrin from United States during his presentation
First presentation in the morning was that of Dr. Robert Zubrin from Mars Society, US about the project "Mars Direct" which is an attempt to get the man to the red planet in no more than a decade. Dr. Zubrin particularly expressed his idea on why this should be done within a time frame of 10 years and no more. He was quite certain about the potential about the project and I think it wouldn't be too far away the day where there would be Mars colonies, probably within our lifetime provided all works out fine.

Professor Marcelo & Dr. Zubrin with Monique, Ana, Lucas & Hermerio - First Brazilian Crew in Mars Desert Research Station
Then followed the report of the first Brazilian crew in Mars Desert Research Station, a facility located in the US. The report was about the experiences of Lucas, Ana, Monique & Hermerio, 4 students of Louis Cruls Astronomy Club who had the chance of visiting Mars Desert Research Station and spending few days there under the crucial conditions, similar to those, to be faced in real exploration activities in Mars. The students were supposed to be crew members, who had different areas to undertake like, geologist, communicator, etc whilst during the stay at this facility. For example Ana, who was in charge of communications had to wait long hours for the feedback from Earth, taking into account the distance between the two planets after she has sent any message/ signal. I believe it was truly an inspiration to all the participants as the students shared their individual experiences. Professor Marcelo also thanked Dr. Zubrin for his involvement in this project and I reckon there would be more chances for the Brazilian students in the future.

One of the other interesting as well as curious sessions to follow was the presentation of meteorite hunter Dirk Ross from Yamaguchi University, Japan and AWB with the topic "Meteor/Meteorite Soup"
Here is Dirk Ross, as he presents on "Meteor/Meteorite Soup"
One of the facts that Dirk mentioned in his talk still echoes in my mind; he went on to say that there had been only few meteorites found in the Brazilian territories and provided the large size of the country, there could be many more meteorites to discover. Later I got to know that Dirk, himself led some expeditions on lookout for possible meteorites along with some other students, and the results were not positive though. Nevertheless I hope they enjoyed the expeditions.

Dirk is confronted by curious students after his talk !

Dirk Ross at his meteorite hunting workshop, Look at the meteorites on the table !
 I don't know how to relate what happened the following evening, We received the NEWS from locals that there had been a meteor crash close to Campos and someone had recorded it as well and had put the video up on Facebook. We were with Professor Marcelo and he was receiving a lot of calls, reporting about this so-called meteor crash. In a different sense it was funny that Dirk Ross had just delivered his presentation about meteorites during the day and he had just had conducted the workshop in the evening on how to look for and identify them, and few hours later we're receiving a lot of reports on meteorite sighting.
Professor Marcelo, Dirk, Andrea and me as we were receiving the HOT news !, Believe me, this kept us sleepless and awake till the early morning.

However later taking into account the information and all the possibilities, Dirk concluded it to be space junk, seen being burnt as it was entering the atmosphere. However it triggered some fuss and suddenly a lot of interest and attention was paid to what Dirk was trying to explain in his talks.
The Souvenir from Dirk Ross

Still on the second day there were many other sessions and activities too with the inclusion of variety of events both indoors and outdoors.
The areas discussed in the meeting were vivid, here you see Eugênio Reis talking about Sun and its life cycle

Eugênio Reis with students at his outdoor session on solar observation.

Norma Reis from Brasilia, talking about her work with scientific communication, her topic was “Teacher’s MEC Portal exemplified by the site “Astronomy, Astronautics and Space Science at the School”
Here you see Oswaldo Barbosa during his workshop session, he's specialized about rocket propulsion and is from ACRUX Aerospace Technologies based in São Paulo, Brazil.
Outdoor adventure with Oswaldo Barbosa
  Whenever there was a break between the sessions I always tried to talk to fellow speakers and students and learn more about what they do, for I was naturally driven with the curiosity. These times proved to be hard sometimes when I stumbled upon some students who hardly spoke any English. However the universal expression of smile was commonly shared despite the language barrier. Below is one such a situation.
Dirk Ross and me with some students
This is Gennady Saenko from ROSCOSMOS talking about "Russia in Space - Vision and Challenges"
Andrea Sanchez-Saldias from Universidad de La Republica – Uruguay, during her presentation of “Educational experiences in Uruguay (formal and non-formal)”
This is me with Adriano Leonês, who talked about “School in the Stars – Experiences and Reports of three years teaching astronomy”
This is me with Andrea and Claudio, I should mention the latter is a polyglot, believe me he spoke Greek as well, and was one of the interesting characters I got to know during the meeting. I'm putting this picture up because of this amazing guy although I look pretty terrible in the picture, don't look at me !
During my presentation, which was the last on the agenda.
I spoke about the outreach activities of astronomy in Sri Lanka, generally what we do here to popularize astronomy. In addition I also talked a bit about my astronomy career and how IYA2009 boosted my involvement with astronomy outreach. In the picture above, in the slide, I'm seen presenting the annual astronomy magazine "Sigma" of Mathematical & Astronomical Society to the staff adviser Professor Chandana Jayarathne at the 'Star Quest 2011' inter-school astronomy quiz competition held in May 2011. In fact this was a great milestone of my astronomy career as I was the editor of that publication. 

The amazing and promising team of Louis Cruls astronomy club, who were behind the organizing of the 5th International Meeting on Astronomy and Astronautics and bringing it to such a success. Kudos to all of them it was a great event !
It is with great gratitude I mention here Professor Marcelo Souza and his beloved wife Eponine. Professor Marcelo is a wonderful person with a great personality. His hospitality and friendliness is irresistible. Muito obrigado Marcelo por tudo. I humbly feel privileged to have known him.