“Anyone can become an astronomer.”
This is the comment made by Dr Nalin Samarasinha of the Planetary Science Institute in the United States during the launch of the new South Pacific Astronomers Society of Enthusiasts (SPASE) platform by the University of Fiji.
“No higher education in astronomy is required to be an amateur astronomer, so you don’t need to have a master’s degree or a doctorate, but you need to have dedication,” he said.
“Amateur astronomers can do astrophotography and that requires a digital camera. If you had a telescope it would be better.
He explained that the best time in Fiji to monitor variable sky phenomena would be from June to September when there are fewer clouds in the sky.
“If you’re doing something scientific, there’s a lot of stuff because of your geographic location, which would be helpful.
“Of course, you would need a telescope to do that.
“You can measure the variation in brightness due to the rotation of asteroids, the variations in the coma characteristics of comets, the variation in brightness of variable stars, and the variable atmospheric characteristics of Jupiter.”
University of Fiji Vice-Chancellor Professor Shaista Shameem said the university is taking a holistic view of its strategy for the next five years.
“The university is exploring new frontiers in learning and teaching,” she said.
“SPASE is part of a larger project the university is engaged in, called the Drua Voyage Project, which offers a short course in celestial navigation to facilitate the university’s focus on climate change resilience in Fiji. as part of our community work.”
The Society’s Acting President and Dean of the School of Business and Economics, Professor Ranasinghe Amaradasa, said the Society aims to help students who were afraid of science subjects, especially math and physics, and to increase their interest in science.