The Public Astronomical Observatory of Goa, affectionately dubbed PAO, is an initiative of the NGO, Association of Friends of Astronomy (AFA). Set up in the year 1982 this observatory operates from the terrace of the building and is open to all. Amateur astronomy enthusiasts are encouraged to stop by and are eagerly helped by the seasoned locals.
Where to Go
The PAO is located on the well-known 18th June Road of Panaji, which is the capital city of Goa. Located on the terrace of the Junta building, the observatory is easy to find and accessible via all forms of public transport.
When to Go
The Public Astronomical Observatory is open all weekdays from the 14th of November till the 31st of May. Inclement weather during the months of June till October, and the presence of heavy cloud cover is the main reason that it is kept closed in the monsoon season. The entry is free and normal hours are 7.00pm to 11.00pm on weekdays.
What to See
The place is an ideal location for watching the movements of the heavenly bodies in the night sky. Since Goa is a seaside locale, and does not have too many skyscrapers and/or highly lit buildings, the view of the sky is unimpeded.
Amateur astronomers enjoy watching the stars and planets from this vantage point, whilst night time enthusiasts are afforded a great view of the city of Panaji spread out below them.
In addition to regular viewings, the AFA also organizes a number of gatherings, seminars and workshops throughout the year and makes special arrangements for the viewing of special astronomical events.
The locals and regulars here are also helpful at pointing newbies in the right direction and explaining as much as possible of their knowledge of the night skies and the universe.
About AFA and PAO
The AFA is and NGO, i.e. non-government agency, that was formed in 1860 under the Society Registration Act with the objective of bringing together people who wanted to pursue the amateur study of astronomy.
More than a hundred years after its formation, the AFA established the PAO with the idea of popularizing astronomy and science amongst those who have had little to no exposure to the subject.
The PAO is supported by the Department of Science and Technology and Environment, an organization of the Government of Goa, and is the first public observatory in India. All the seminars, clubs, quizzes etc. that take place here are also government funded.
The equipment available is simple but sufficient for amateur study. There are a number of reflector telescopes that are set up for the use of the public and visitors.
So for some night time fun with a bit of learning thrown in on the side, head to the PAO in Panaji. The calm atmosphere and excellent guides make this an experience well worth having on your trip to Goa.