Solar Eclipse Observation at Pubic Astronomical Observatory

The Public Astronomical Observatory at Junta House, Panaji which has the distinction of being the first Public Observatory in India is completing 25 years this year. The Observatory is a unique example of a government facility, run with Government funds in Govt premises but excellently managed by an NGO, Association of Friends of Astronomy (Goa).
In the institution section  we wish to bring before our readers the activities of this dedicated institution. We wish to say ‘hats off’ to AFA for the yeomen service it has been rendering to Goa and Goans especially to Panaji.

Nurturing scientific temper by igniting young minds with the power of science is the only sure shot method of India to the next level of its development. Association of Friends of Astronomy or AFA as it is fondly called is an organization that has been furthering this cause for the past twenty five years.
AFA was started way back in December 1982, which incidentally was the year Halley’s comet was seen in the skies. Percivel Noronha a retired IAS officer from government services instantiated the organisation along with a few like minded astronomy enthusiasts. Since then the institution has been attracting hundreds of science and astronomy hungry minds from across Goa. The organisation has over 2500 members as of now and is linked to over 100 schools across Goa.

Solar experiments
Solar experiments being carried out at the observatory

ASSOCIATION OF FRIENDS OF ASTRONOMY (GOA)
The Association opens its arms to all individuals who are mesmerized by the awesome universe and are curious to know more about it. As on 2015, Association of Friends of Astronomy (Goa) has 9 Centers in Goa: The main unit at Panjim and sub units at Margao, Mapusa, Vasco, Porvorim and Canacona and Rural astronomy centres at Morjim, Sakhalim & Borim. Any individual regardless of age and education is welcome to join the Association and enrich his life with the beautiful and timeless hobby of appreciating The Mother of Science…ASTRONOMY.

Worshop on Astrophysics with youngsters in rapt attention
Worshop on Astrophysics with youngsters in rapt attention

PUBLIC ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY
The P.A.O. Panjim was set up by Association of Friends of Astronomy (Goa) in 1990 and is supported and funded by the Department of Science, Technology & Environment (Govt. of Goa). It is the first public observatory to be set up in India and is voluntarily managed by the members of Association of Friends of Astronomy (Goa). Another Public Astronomical Observatory was instituted in Margao in 2003 and 3rd one came up in 2010 at Mapusa. The Vasco observatory (Founded: 2013) & Canacona observatory (Founded: 2013) were setup with the assistance of educational institutions. Similarly the Rural Astronomy centers of Morjim & Borim villages are also setup with the help of schools and have the distinction of being the only Rural Astronomy centers in the Country. The recently started Sakhali Center has also proved as a great resource to students in the area . At all these centers general public can view the Cosmos free of cost.

Inauguration of the observatory way back  in 1982
Inauguration of the observatory way back in 1982

The Association activities are grouped into seven clubs and being a member of AFA (Goa) entitles you to participate in the events of all the clubs as per your interest…
AFA Observers Club -Dedicated to promote observational astronomy as a hobby, Members are privileged to learn, practice, perfect and enjoy …
AFA Astrokids Club – a fun club to give enjoyable and hands on experience of Science and Astronomy to students below 15years of age
AFA Science Forum – is a platform for conducting many science based activities in disciplines allied to, but different from Astronomy
AFA Literary Club -Promotes the much needed and fast diminishing hobby of reading and is a club dedicated to appreciate the scientific literary field.
AFA Thinking Caps – is a club actively dedicated to quizzing, brain storming and increasing ones knowledge through inquiry and thought. Activities conducted are…..
AFA photography Club – Anybody wanting to pair the thrilling hobby of photography to astronomy is welcome to join our astrophotography team and venture into many new forms of scientific photography. The AFA Astrophotography buffs have been a part of Goa at Night – a very prestigious project on the lines of the international TWAN project in landscape astrophotography involving field trips at night to various built and natural heritage spots of Goa in collaboration with Archeological Survey of India.
Saturday Star Screen -is the film club of AFA (Goa). Regular screenings of astronomy and space documentaries, short films, sc-fi films, etc and discussions on the same are held. Films pertaining to other sciences are also frequently screened.

Youngsters waiting with starry eyes for their turn to peep at the stars
Youngsters waiting with starry eyes for their turn to peep at the stars

Science Outreach Programs

Science outreach: all members are privileged to conduct the following activities , provided they gather the prerequisite skills and information.
Guiding Visitors: explaining the night sky and conducting telescopic observations for visitors at the public Astronomical Observatories of Panjim, Mapusa and Margao. (Honorarium is paid for these duties )
School Programms; conducting Astronomy power point presentations and night sky observations for groups all over Goa at Schools, Colleges, Camps, Events, Etc (Honorarium is paid for these duties and pick and drop facility by car is also offered.)
Rural education: a satisfying and humbling experience of conducting Science and astronomy outreach activities for rural areas, rural astronomy centers and underprivileged students. (Honorarium is paid for these activities)
Resource person: A person with can develop knowledge of Astronomy and public speaking skills at the observatory can make use of this and present lectures, workshops talks, power points at Seminars, programs, observatory events and the like ( Honorarium is paid for these talks ).
Teaching skills: Astronomy is a rare skill and there is need of Astro-teachers all the time. People interested in developing their knowledge and conducting talks, lectures, training sessions and also take up astronomy education at the Organization’s Astro-classroom-project ( ie academic lectures in tune with astronomy curriculum in different schools of Goa in classroom time. Honorarium will be paid. )

Foreign visitors at the observatory
Foreign visitors at the observatory

Sidewalk astronomy: chance to conduct public observation programs at beaches, temple fairs and public areas is a great training in crowd management and community outreach.
Event Management: The Association is continuously in the process of conducting different academic and scientific events around Goa and dedication, ideas, innovations and event management skills are acquired all the time in AFA (Goa).
Carrier Guidance: Carrier guidance can be provided to interested students in astronomy, astrophysics and allied avenues.
Trips and Tours: serious and dedicated members of all ages can get the privilege of being deputed outside Goa for Astronomy Seminars, Workshops, training sessions, tours to scientific organizations and institutes, visits to places where rare celestial occurrences will be visible and so on.

JOIN AFA FAMILY ……

If you are thrilled and amazed when you look up at the star studded sky, were always inquisitive of space, wanted to become an astronaut when you were a kid!! Or wanted to know more about the universe, but never had the time… then AFA(Goa) is where you should belong.

AFA is waiting for you…

PUBLIC ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATORY , 7th Floor, Junta House, Panaji, Goa
Email: contact@afagoa.org Website – http://afagoa.org/
Facebook Page :www.facebook.com/groups/thinkingcaps/