40 Years of Space Age & Beyond - Concludes successfully

40 Years of Space Age & Beyond 2009 - IYA2009-Sri Lanka

Under the International Year of Astronomy 2009 programs, the Royal College Astronomical Society (RCAS) organized an innovative program called 40 Years of Space Age & Beyond” (FYOSA 09). The program which held from 8th to 9th of December 2009, consist of a workshop, Science Fiction Competition and Exhibition of Apollo 11 moon rocks.

The program gathered more than 6000 visitors which included students, teachers, parents and general public. The workshop and the SF competition had a participation of 30 schools around the country. It was two days filled with astronomical experience.

-FYOSA09 Trailer-

1) FYOSA workshop
2) Science Fiction Competition
3) Apollo 11 moon rocks exhibition

FYOSA workshop
8th December 2009

For the 9th consecutive year the RCAS workshop was held this year under the theme of “40years of Space Age & Beyond” - a look back at the 40years of space programs and future view of missions to space and colonization. The workshop is the long running annual project of RCAS and a much waited event in the local astronomy community.

The workshop kicked off at 10:30am with speeches by College Principle, Teacher in Charge and other guests which followed by an interesting lecture – “Moon Colonization” by Dr. Rohan Munasingha of Moratuwa University. The lecture covered all the aspects of moon colonization including scientific background and ongoing colonization ideas. The lecture was followed by a series of video clips on various important space missions since Apollo 11 and some future ones as well.

One of the highlights of the FYOSA 09 program is the Apollo 11 Moon Rock Display which was set up at the other side of the Workshop hall. The exhibition was officially opened by Dr Rohan Munasingha and Prof Kavan Ratnatunga. All the participated students and teachers were given an opportunity to witness the historical moon rocks.

The workshop also didn’t fail to add some entertainment with few songs by RCAS members. The first phase of the workshop concluded with lunch.
The second phase was more exciting. The workshop had a participation of about 150 students and teachers, who were divided into 10 groups for the hands-on-activity – moon colonization. The activity held as a competition.
Advisor of RCAS, Mr. Thilina Heenatigala gave instructions to all the students regarding the activity. The students were given various materials and told to make a model of moon colonization. The lecture done by Dr. Rohan Munasingha was very helpful for all the students to understand the crucial issues when designing a moon colony.

Each of the group was given two hours and was judged for the best designed. It was an intense two hours filled with lots of brainstorming, and exchanging ideas, being active and interacting with each other. The groups were judged from the time activity kicked off and judging was done by Mr. Yohan Ferreira and Mr. Wajira Heenatigala. The activity was monitored by Mr. Thilina Heenatigala. It was coordinated by Mr. Abhiruchika Sriyarathna, Mr. Charith Siriwardana and Mr. Udara Chathuranga.

After two hours all the models were displayed in front of the stage and the groups waited for the announcement of the winner. After a while the final decision was made and one team walked away with NASA materials.

Each of the participated schools were given donation package of NASA materials containing CDs, DVDs, posters, Bookmarks, lithographs, etc… which is another initiative RCAS has been active for the past 5 years, which followed by the award ceremony of SF competition.

The program concluded with a promise by RCAS officials to bring more excitement in next year workshop.

Chief Guest: Dr. Rohan Munasinga
Guest of Honor: Prof. Kavan Ratnatunga
Workshop Advisor: Mr. Thilina Heenatigala

Abhiruchika Sriyarathna
Charith Siriwardana
Udara Chathuranga.


Science Fiction Competition

The Science Fiction competition is another annual project of the RCAS, which has been running since 1999 and was only open to RCAS members. But this year as a tribute to IYA2009, it was open to all the students around the country. The purpose of the competition is to give an opportunity to explore the vivid imagination of young minds.

There were entries from more than 20 schools around the country, both in Sinahala and English language and in three categories – Junior, Intermediate and Senior. The entries were reviewed by officials from Sri Lanka Astronomical Association and Astronomy & Space Study Center.

The award ceremony was held during the FYOSA 09 workshop. All the entries were given certificates and 3 winners selected in each category, were given special IYA2009 – RCAS medals, a gift pack of NASA materials and certificates.


Apollo 11 moon rocks exhibition
8th & 9th December 2009

When Neil Armstrong and crew touched the Moon for the first time 40 years ago, they brought back lunar soil with them to Earth. Small potions of these moonstones were donated to various countries by former US President Richard Nixon. Sri Lanka was lucky enough to be one of the countries to receive these stones.

These moonstones were kept at the National Museum of Sri Lanka, but were not available for public display. With special arrangement via Sri Lanka Astronomical Association, RCAS was able to get the National Museum Apollo 11 exhibition set up for public display for two days.

The feedback was immense; the exhibition reached record of more than 6000 visitors for two days. It was a rare opportunity to witness the history as these moonstones are rarely on public display. Also, there were some unforgettable photographs from Apollo 11 mission displayed at the exhibition along with the moonstones.

The second day of the exhibition included Solar viewing through the RCAS telescope (Helen) and screening of various future mission videos.


Thilina Heenatigala
National Node Secretary
IYA2009 – Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka IYA2009 National Node

Sri Lanka Astronomical Association

International Year of Astronomy 2009

Some unforgettable moments:

Opening Ceremony

Moon Colonization Activity

students brainstorming

some of the groups

judges examining models

one group with their model

few of the groups

waiting to hear the winning team

groups with their models

one of the SF competition winners

junior category SF competition winner

the winning group from the Moon Colonization activity

Apollo 11 Moonstones exhibition

Opening Ceremony of the exhibition

part of the exhibition set up

students viewing the moon rocks

students at the exhibition

more students at the exhibition

students gathering up to witness the historical rocks

solar viewing

screening future mission videos at the exhibition


rainygirl said...

is there any chance that we can read the winner stories?(the SF stories i mean)

P.S. i come here from the AccList forum, i am a member of persian literature group working in Science Fiction and fantasy. that's why i am interested in the result of the award. you can read more about us in this link(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Fantasy_Academy) if you like of course

Thilina Heenatigala said...

Hi, the SF winning entries are published in the local paper, but most of them are in native language. If we are to publish any of the English entries, I will share them with you.

Thanks for sharing the link of Persian Fantasy Academy, it was interesting. Today is the 92nd birth anniversary of Sri Arthur Clarke, I sent an email to ACC-list, hope you seen it.