It is highly recommended that activities for general public to be carried out while conducting school- and college-level activities. Not only is it easy to do so, but without such activities general public will not be aware about such a center and will not support it at the local level.
Goa is poor on astronomy awareness, as is most of India, even though Goans are quite enterprising and curious people. There are hardly any facilities for astronomy activities, except for Public Astronomy Observatory, a group in Panjim that does lots of good work. So, there is much to do with such a center in Goa.
The aims is to spread awareness about astronomy, physics, and general science related to both, to general public, students, policy makers, alike.
- Astronomy awareness camps (mobile and stationary in Surla): To educate common public about important astronomy events, regular calendar events, etc.
- Regular in-house open-air (naked-eye) astronomy activities: meteor showers, eclipses, and like. This is to maintain public involvement in astronomy center.
- Planetarium-based activities: Much of the Summer and Monsoon season, when skies are not clear, a mobile planetarium would be an ideal instrument of astronomy display. A mobile planetarium has been active in IUCAA, Pune, and has been a successful venture.
- Panel discussions and lectures by experts on topics of interest for general audience
- To question astrology and dubious connections used to sell it using astronomical terminology. This is to clearly identify difference in science of astronomy/astrophysics and what different astrological practices follow. In particular, calendars, astronomical events of planets and terminologies.
- To highlight astronomy education and research issues in front of common public and policy makers. This is to advocate more participation in national and international activities, such as Olympiads, telescopes, collaborations, etc.
In the subsequent parts I will outline physical and other needs to conduct the activities for three types of audiences.