We are requesting support from the Government of Sri Lanka to develop a National Astronomical Observatory consisting of a research class 1.5 meter robotic telescope. This project will play an important role in developing astronomy research and education in the country. The new facility described in this proposal will be the largest optical telescope facility in the country to be located in the geographical centre of the country, in Dambulla.
Not like any other branch of science, astronomy can generate spontaneous interest in students and general public. This interest when properly focused in science education can bring great results to country. Astronomy is an important part of the university and school education and growing gradually. Even the largest existing telescope facility in the country, the 45cm Cassegrain optical telescope at the Arthur C Clarke Institute in Moratuwa, is not in a position to cater the increasing demand.
The proposed telescope will serve as a workbench for university students and professional astronomers for their research projects. School children and the public will be educated in astronomy through various outreach activities based on the facility. Considering the geographical position of the proposed observatory there will be a huge potential of developing this site as a place of tourist attraction. In addition to the astronomical observatory, a science Exploratorium and a 3D theater can be incorporated.
The National Astronomical Observatory of this proposal could serve as a seed for the funding and activation of this facility.