By Jeffrey R. Charles
Located in Cochabamba Bolivia, Astronomia Sigma Octante is a center for astronomical research which specializes in solar and variable star observing. The group is also involved in education and the training new observers. ASO members are not mere "armchair astronomers"; they are serious observers. The director of ASO, German Morales Chavez, also writes software for astronomical applications.
Prior to the November 3, 1994 total solar eclipse in Bolivia, Astronomia Sigma Octante wrote an impressive multiple page eclipse article for Los Tiempos, a major local newspaper. In this article, they included predictions for the times and magnitude of the eclipse for scores of locations throughout Bolivia. Their eclipse time predictions for my location were within 4 seconds. The group also regularly records sunspot numbers and groups, and reports variable star observations to the AAVSO.
ASO and its members have two 20 cm reflectors, an 8 cm refractor, and some smaller optics. They also designed and fabricated instrumentation such as a multiple sensor photometer for recording light intensity during the November 3, 1994 total solar eclipse. (This is a very respectable accomplishment, owing to the scarcity of good electronics suppliers in Bolivia!)
While in Bolivia, I attended one ASO meeting and visited German at his house. Since then, we have exchanged video, photos, and observational data concerning the total eclipse, and they have sent copies of their monthly solar observation reports.
It recently became possible for ASO to obtain Internet access and hosting of their own home page! Their site contains ASO solar observation reports and other data. It will later contain information about their 1994 total solar eclipse experiments. Most of their material is in Spanish, but a significant amount of it has also been translated into the English language. Click here to see the ASO home page!
ASO is interested in locating sponsors. Interested parties are encouraged to E-mail German Morales Chavez, the Director of ASO at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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