What started as a hobby has grown into a serious initiative. Citizens groups have taken the lead in coming up with an astronomy movement to encourage amateur astronomers to collect and share data about meteor observations and send their findings to reputed international organisations.
The practice is already prevalent in Pune on a smaller scale,where members of Akashmitra,an amateur astronomy group in the city send their data to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO). Since its inception in 2003,Akashmitra has been sending data to the IMO. Today,the group comprises over 200 amateur astronomers.
Kanad Mandke (20),a member of Akashmitra,said,”We are still in the initial stages of planning the citizens’ astronomy movement. However,the idea is to create a common pool for data sharing to which all astronomy lovers can contribute. Internationally such a concept is popular as bodies such as IMO,International Occultation Timing Association and so on ask amateur astronomers to collect data and observations. The data is then analysed by professional astronomers.” Mandke,a student of audiology at Bharti Vidyapeeth University,has been a part of Akashmitra since 2005.
The IMO,founded in 1988, has more than 250 members. The need for such an organisation was felt after in order to facilitate international cooperation of amateur research on meteors. The collection of meteor observations by several methods from around the world ensures the comprehensive study of meteor showers and their relation to comets and interplanetary dust.
Talking about the citizens’ astronomy movement,Arvind Paranjpye,founding member and council member of Akashmitra,scientific officer at Inter University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA),said,”Such a unified structure will give a structure to the whole effort. Later we plan to take it further to the national level. As of now in India we don’t have an umbrella body for sharing information.”
Akashmitra members meet every Thursday to discuss various aspects of astronomy