Local astronomy society’s proposal receives IAU global award

James Kon

The Astronomical Society of Brunei Darussalam’s (PABD) ‘Making Space for All’ (MASA) proposal was selected to receive the global award of Telescopes for All by the International Astronomy Union (IAU) recently.

Seventeen communities of underrepresented groups around the world including Brunei Darussalam were selected to receive telescopes signed by astronauts and Nobel Laureates.

This is the first group of telescopes to be distributed by Telescopes for All: Inspiring Stars and Stars Shine for Everyone Collaboration.

Brunei’s participation in the programme with the proposal ‘Making Space for All’ was from PABD member Nur Bazilah binti Zainal Abidin.

Telescopes for All is a collaboration between the International Astronomical Union Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO), Stars Shine for Everyone (Sterren Schitteren voor Iedereen, SSVI) and Universe Awareness/University of Leiden, according to PABD.

The programme seeks to broaden the horizons of children, parents, and educators to spark an interest in science and promote equal opportunities for pursuing a career in astronomy.

Astronomical Society of Brunei Darussalam (PABD) member Nur Bazilah binti Zainal Abidin, one of the global Telescope for All award recipients by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). PHOTO: JAMES KON

The Telescopes for All programme is one of the legacy actions arising from the IAU100 celebrations and follows the successful collaboration in 2019. The 17 telescopes are donated by Bresser.

The programme received 172 applications endorsed by the IAU National Outreach Coordinators (NOCs) from 34 countries.

The selected proposals will bring telescopes to children in rural areas in Cameroon and Tunisia, migrants and refugees in Spain, and children with hearing and visual impairments in Indonesia and Nepal, to name just a few.

MASA is a proposed short-term action plan for one of PABD’s initiatives to encourage the development of astronomy and enhance the interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education among the community, especially children with disabilities and women in Brunei Darussalam.

The shipping of the telescopes will begin in late September 2020 provided COVID-19 safety measures are permitted.

Brunei is among the 17 international recipients to receive a set of telescope from IAU.

The other recipients of the telescopes are Telescopes for All in the heart of Argentina, Villa Mercedes Astronomy Club, Argentina, Seichu-Jurá Project, Sociedade de Astronomia do Maranhão, Brazil, Telescopes for All in Cameroon, Bilingual Secondary School, Cameroon, A Telescope for the Mangilaluk School in Tuktoyaktuk, Canada, Telescopes for All in Chile, ‘Hermanos Carrera’ School, Angol, Los Lagos Region, Chile, Telescopes for All in the Dominican Republic, ASTRODOM, Dominican Republic, Telescopes for All in Haiti, Haiti, Groupe Astro-Jeunes-Ado, Haiti, The Universe for Everyone, Andromeda, Ahmad Dahlan University, Indonesia, Astronomy is Open to Everyone, Asif n Ait Bounouh Association for Culture and Awareness, Morocco, Telescopes for All in Nepal, Blind Rocks!, Nepal, Telescopes for All in Panama, Panama Rainforest Discovery Center, Panama, Mirando al Cielo, Paraguay, Telescopes for All in Peru, Huaycán Cultural, Peru, Socio-educative support for migrant and refugee children, Spain, Telescopes for All in Tunisia, Enfidha Astronomy Club, Tunisia and Astronomy for All, Saigon Astrokids (SAK), Vietnam.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, a digital camera will be provided with each telescope, so that outreach professionals and science educators can conduct their observations and share them safely with their community online until safety measures allow for face-to-face interactions.