FGASA Advanced Astronomy Qualification
Since FGASA’s launch of our Advanced Astronomy qualification at the beginning of May, we have been inundated with requests for more information about the syllabus.
The qualification follows the same pattern as all the other FGASA qualifications: a learner manual, comprehensive workbook, theory exam (75% pass rate) and practical assessment.
Currently the manual is only available to FGASA members but such has been the response, we are in discussions about making the material available to all guides and private individuals wanting to know more about the stars.
The original manual was released in 2018 but has now been updated in accordance with the feedback received from within the guiding industry. Guiding has always been about reconnecting people with nature and with that in mind, the manual has been redesigned to include much more information pertaining to astronomy’s influence on the Earth and our society, as well as African cultural beliefs with regard to celestial phenomena and the constellations.
The ultimate goal is to give guides a ‘one stop shop’ that contains information on every aspect of astronomy. From how to plan for a star gazing session, to a list of the prominent constellations with their associated mythologies, bright stars and deep sky objects, the manual will allow guides to tailor-make a star gazing experience in accordance with their guest’s interests, at any time of the year.
In addition to this, the manual will also arm guides with a level of knowledge that will enable them to hold in-depth discussions about the influences of astronomy on culture and the environment.
It is vitally important for guides to not fall into the trap of a ‘show and tell’ safari. Simply identifying Venus for example is not an experience... Learning about its atmospheric conditions caused by a runaway greenhouse effect, or explaining why the planet appears so bright in our sky takes the experience to another level, and immerses the guests in the story, allowing them to formulate their own opinions.
We firmly believe that most of the population possesses a strong desire to learn more about the star above. Whether due their seductive,intrinsic beauty; our residual connection with our ancestry; or simply a way to escape the current global lockdown, gazing into space is a deep and holistic experience.
However, many people are afraid of the unknown, and the thought of understanding the infinite expanse of space can be daunting to say the least! Guides are educators, and this manual will allow them to lead their guests on a voyage of celestial discovery that will remove the associated fears and supply them with the necessary skillset to continue exploring the stars from the comfort of their own home.
Star gazing in remote game reserves, accompanied by the soundtrack of the African night, is something that every visitor to our magnificant country should get to experience.
Our world is held together by a vast scaffolding of interactions and their influences, and many of these can be traced back to celestial origins. To understand astronomy is to understand the world.
It is our ultimate connection to nature.