In an important joint initiative, Nalanda College Astronomical Society (NCAS), Nalanda College Alumni Astronomical Society (NCAAS) and organised 'Dumbara Sky' on the theme 'Taking Astronomy to Sri Lanka's Villages'. The worldwide initiative taken by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) paved the way for this project, as they celebrated their golden jubilee calling for project proposals under the central theme "Under One Sky". IAU is an organisation dealing with worldwide astronomers, promoting and safeguarding the science of astronomy in all its aspects, and reaching out to the global astronomical community. Fortunately, the Nalandians', out of 160 international special projects, were able to get through to be among the top finalists with 'Dumbara Sky'.
This is the only astronomy special project ever funded by the IAU, in Sri Lanka. It was conducted on February 9-10, in Rambukwella Secondary school, Ududumbara and Kaikawala Secondary school, Meemure, located on the outskirts of the Dumbara mountain range, in some of the most remote villages in Sri Lanka. Students of the Astronomical Society of Hillwood College, Kandy, also took part and gave their fullest support in conducting the programme. “Nalanda College has the best telescope collection among schools in Sri Lanka, which is a great asset. With all this, 'Dumbara Sky' was able to reach the rural areas of our country, to share astronomical knowledge along with creating science awareness, which was the sole purpose of this exercise,” said NCAAS President Eranga Amarasinghe.
It was an interactive event with a variety of activities including moon and star mapping, lectures, quiz competitions, group activities and demonstrations. Telescope demonstration was a memorable time for the kids, as it was the first time they saw a telescope and observed the night sky through it. The programme initiated a constructive dialogue, as many students were curious to learn what’s out there in space. The event ended with water rocket launch by the participants. Finally, NCAS extend their heartfelt gratitude to the Principals of Nalanda College and Hillwood College, Kandy and Astro Minds for their support and guidance. Kudos to the 'creativists' of Nalanda College and Astro Minds for initiating this imaginative concept.
Pics by Aushala Wickaramasinghe & Vinura Rathnayake