Thursday, April 17, 2014

Public astronomy flourishing in Pakistan

by Salman Hameed

I have posted many times about astronomy in Pakistan (see links below), which I think is maturing nicely. There still aren't that many professional astronomers, but the amateur astronomy scene seems to have attained a critical mass. I know that there are active groups both in Lahore and Karachi, and there is growing interest in Islamabad as well. I don't know when is a good time, but may be they should think about forming a national body (Pakistan Astronomical Society?) that can coordinate astronomy outreach, facilitate annual or bi-annual gatherings, and can even launch some systematic observing projects. While there have been many efforts to build professional telescopes as well, the formation of such an organization may also streamline that process. In balance, there is a downside as well. Some of the wonderful energy that is driving the current astronomy scene may get diverted into dealing with organizational matters of the more boring side. I think the formation of a larger umbrella organization will have benefits in the long run - unless it gets mired into pointless bureaucracy.

In any case, here are some wonderful pictures from a public event in Lahore held on April 12th (you can see more images from Umair Asim's website here):

And they are not wasting their time during the day either. Here are some pictures from March 25th:

Here is a trip to Lahore Grammar School on February 22nd:

And here is a spectacular image from Umair Asim's solar telescope:

Not to be left behind, Karachi Amateurs Astronomers Society (KAAS) also held public functions in the last couple of weeks. Here are some pictures:

And from an event on April 6th: 

Recently, Dawn newspaper provided a wonderful photographic essay on one of KAAS's observing excursions. I will here add only two photographs, but you should check all of these out here:

Related posts:
Astronomy catching on in Pakistan
Pakistani Astronomers Shine During the International Year of Astronomy
Another Astrofest by Khwarizmi Science Society
More Astronomy News from Pakistan
International Year of Astronomy in Pakistan


Unknown said...

Food for thought at the right time. Volunteers please step forward.

Akbar said...

Amastropak yahoo group founded by Dr Salman Hameed was one of the earliest foundation stones for a potential unifying platform for Pakistani astronomers. In 2006, I launched pilot website as Pakistan Amateur Astronomers Society and purchased the prestigious domain. In 2008, I suggested in a meeting with amateur astronomers in Karachi to launch it as a country wide platform for amateur astronomers in Pakistan. Our astronomy was still quite primordial and relatively not well coordinated. Mr Khalid Marwat, a very senior amateur astronomer, suggested that at this level when we do not have the required threshold in our experience and equipment, we would rather stick to our grounds as local astronomer group as it will be harder to organize a country wide platform, and much of our energy will be diverted into management issues, as you also rightly pointed out in your article too. Karachi Astronomers Society was then born, and rapidly gained 'critical mass' (thumbs up Salman for the interesting catchphrase). The website is still running as Pakistan Amateur Astronomers Society to keep the mission alive for a unified platform any time we get motivated to go ahead (Unless someone comes up with their own name, plan or resources, like Pakistan Astronomical Society etc). I only recently changed the website title to The Kaastrodome to honour Pakistan's first private dome observatory built in Karachi by Karachi Astronomers Society.

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