Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Astronomy in Goa-II : College Activities

This post is a part of a series on Astronomy Center activities in Goa. I have outlined the aims and target communities for it, read my guide post for details. The current post will outline only activities for college students. The subsequent posts will discuss school and general public, and examine the physical and other needs of such astronomy activities.

It is highly recommended that activities for general public to be carried out while conducting college-level activities. Not only it is easy, without such activities, general public will not be aware about such a center and will not support it at the local level. One will have to sell the above activities for general public in some form or another. To think of it, college audience is only a part of "general public".

Coming to specific activities for college students:


a) To do simple naked-eye astronomy: get acquainted with stars, and planets.
b) Naked eye observations, particularly of comets, meteors, planets, and other variable objects,

both the above activities are expected to stimulate astronomy discussions and general background.

c) To recount history of sky monitoring and astronomy, in Indian and abroad.

d) To understand connection between astronomy and religion in India.

e) Stories of famous Indian astronomers and mathematicians.

f) To study the growth of science/physics through stories of astronomy and astronomers.

g) To understand role of astronomical observations in calendars

h) To question and contrast astrology from astronomy/astrophysics.


a) To develop graded astronomy curriculum material:
For 11th, 12th and degree level classes. We need to start from simple concepts of stars, planets, moon/sun, etc. gradually, we need to introduce higher concepts along with simple physical interpretation. An ideal starting point for such material will be Indira Gandhi Open University (see their course PHE 15 for astronomy and astrophysics).

b) Simple naked-eye activities can be used to do quantitative analysis of events, such as meteor showers, variable star brightness, etc.

Techniques of Quantitative estimation of brightness of stars, planets, etc. using a telescope and CCDs.

d) To make simple measurements of
star/planet spectra using narrow filters.

Relating measured quantities to class-room physics and mathematics learnt previously by students. In particular: concept of temperature of stars and planets using above spectral measurements, radii of stars assuming temperatures, distances to planets using Newton's laws, binary parameters based on eclipsing binary stars, etc.

f) Conduct astronomy quizzes and competitions.

Encourage astro-photography and virtual observatory : internet-based observations using web-cam connected telescopes and astrophotography.

h) Short and long astronomy projects through collaborations with other astronomy institutions, such as IUCAA.

i) Print and digital media interaction to reach wider audience.

Community-based activities

a) Students could help spread astronomy awareness through school-level camps at various schools

b) Elder students could work with junior students to explain science and techniques of astronomy.

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