From 1950s to present....
Our society was known as the Mathematical and Astronomical Society at the beginning and later was renamed as the Astronomical Society. This is one of the oldest astronomical societies in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan astronomers Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe and Professor V. K. Samaranayake worked together to establish this society back in 1959, and we can proudly consider it as the first scientific collaboration towards astronomy in Sri Lanka at university level.
The Molesworth telescope (12 1/2″ (32 cm) reflecting telescope) which is more than 100 years old, was gifted to the University of Colombo and kept inside the observatory dome in the university playgrounds. Major P. B. Molesworth was the first owner of the telescope who made his astronomical observations in Trincomalee. He was considered as the finest amateur planetary observer alive in the world during the decade 1896-1905. A crater about 16 km in diameter on the southern hemisphere of Mars (211° W, 28° S) has been named after him. This telescope captured Jupiter’s great South Tropical Disturbance and a complex dusky region in the planet’s South Tropical Zone, both of which are significant contributions to the history of astronomy. Today, this valuable object acts as an astronomy teaching tool that has created many talented Sri Lankan astronomers.
From then we were able to participate actively in the development of astronomy in Sri Lanka. The SIGMA magazine which is an annual publication of the society plays a major role in the distribution of knowledge and improvement of literary skills in internal students as well.
As the Astronomical Society of University of Colombo, we have been organizing exhibitions, observation camps and awareness sessions regarding astronomy and space sciences. Star Quest is the Interschool Astronomical Quiz competition organized by the society quenching the thirst of school students around Sri Lanka. This is our flagship event of the year which is held with the participation of more than 50 schools.
In 2012 we observed the Venus transit, which is a very rare astronomical event that happens only once per 112 years. Two teams from our Astronomical Society observed this last Venus transit of the century, one team at the University of Colombo premises and another team on the coast of Trincomalee. We also broadcasted it live across the internet along with a knowledge-sharing discussion. Also, school students, undergraduates, and the general public were given the opportunity to observe this once-in-a-lifetime event.
2019 was an important year for the Sri Lankan scientific community where we had the chance to organize the national event for the annular solar eclipse that occurred on 26th of December 2019. The Astronomical Society was able to organize two observation sites in University of Jaffna and University of Colombo where a live feed of the event was broadcasted through our website. We were honored with the participation of Dr. Michael G Gavrilov who is the chairman of the International Astronomy Olympiad Association.