By Thusath Dissanayake
For countless millennia, humanity has gazed in awe at the vast expanse of outer space. On the night of June 28th to the early hours of June 29th, the Astronomical Society embarked on a captivating journey into the cosmos. Enthusiastic stargazers gathered for ASPICE SIDERA ‘23—a night of learning, camaraderie, and exploration of the celestial wonders.
Despite the passage of years, the allure of the stars remained undiminished, as evidenced by the spirited attendance that evening.
The event offered a diverse array of activities, including telescopic observations and rocketry sessions that had attendees on their feet in excitement.
The Countdown to ASPICE SIDERA ‘23
The weeks leading up to the annual Astro Night were abuzz with activity. Students from across the nation competed in the ASTRON: Documentary and Presentation Competition as well as the Curiositas: Inter School Astronomy Quiz. These competitions culminated in the grand showdown during ASPICE SIDERA.
On the night of June 27th, an observation camp provided Astronomical Society members with a chance to familiarize themselves with the equipment before the main event.
Embarking on the Astro Night
Anticipation filled the air as crowds streamed into the college main hall for the Trinity College Astro Night. Representatives from 14 schools nationwide, along with over 60 members of the Astronomical Society of Trinity College, eagerly awaited the commencement of ASPICE SIDERA ‘23. The event kicked off at 6.30pm, graced by the presence of esteemed school dignitaries including Rev Father Shelton Samadanam and Vice Principal Mr. Krishanthan Anthonydas. President of the Astronomical Society, Methul Dissanayake, welcomed the guests to an exciting new chapter in the college’s astronomical journey.
The opening ceremony featured a keynote speech by the distinguished Dr. Thiloshana Ranawaka, a senior lecturer in the Department of Physics at the University of Peradeniya. The audience was treated to captivating presentations and documentaries from the ASTRON: Intra-school Competitions, interspersed with a musical performance by Ryan Weerasekara and Ometh Bandara.
Keynote Insights from Dr. Thiloshana Ranawaka
Dr. Thiloshana Ranawaka, an old Trinitian and an expert in the field of exoplanets and extraterrestrial bodies, graced the event with her extensive knowledge. Her remarkable delivery illuminated the audience on these fascinating subjects.
ASTRON ’23: Fostering Young Astronomers
The night served as a platform to inspire young minds to pursue astronomy. The ASTRON competitions showcased presentations and documentaries, engaging participants in various aspects of the field. Finalists in the presentation category presented their projects, while documentaries were screened for the audience and the judging panel to determine the winners.
Among the Inter-School winners were Girls’ High School, Kandy, and Rahula College, Matara, who excelled in the presentation and documentary categories, respectively.
Curiositas: The Intense Inter-School Quiz
The gripping Curiositas quiz, following online preliminaries, brought the top 10 contenders to the battleground. These young minds engaged in a series of rounds, tested on subjects including Astrophysics, Cosmology, General Astronomy, Observational Astronomy, and Rocketry. The nail-biting finale saw Ananda College emerging as champions after an intense face-off with Dharmaraja College Team A.
Astronomy Workshop and Stargazing
As the early hours of Thursday, June 29th dawned, attendees gathered for stargazing and launching their crafted water rockets in the college quadrangle. Under the cloudless sky, participants enjoyed quality stargazing while the water rockets soared—a captivating sight that ignited infectious enthusiasm.
A Fulfilling Conclusion
As the Astro Night drew to a close, a sense of fulfillment pervaded the atmosphere. Amidst cheers, winners were celebrated on stage, their achievements acknowledged with awards and certificates. Entertainment by talented individuals like Sithum Mendis and Omiru Jayaweera brought a vibrant close to the event.
Thakshala Medagama, the Society’s Secretary, conveyed gratitude, emphasizing that the event marked not an end, but the dawn of a new chapter. The Astronomical Society had risen from dormancy to the forefront of college co-curricular activities.
Special thanks were extended to the organizing committee, teachers, and coordinators for their invaluable guidance and effort.
In all, the Astronomical Society of Trinity College orchestrated a remarkable show with ASPICE SIDERA ‘23.