August 2008, all attention goes to China for the Olympic game. One World One Dream is the motto of the games. But Olympic game is not the only important events in China. Early August, all astronomers from Asia Pacific gather together for the 10th Asian Pacific Regional IAU Meeting, in Kunming, Yunan Province, P.R. China. This meeting was held from 3 – 6 August and attended by more than 300 participants. This meeting holds 8 topics sessions, with one of them was Education and Popularisation of Astronomy.
In APRIM 2008, education and popularisation of astronomy session emphasised on Asia Pacific countries preparation for International Year of Astronomy 2009. The meeting was started with a brief explanation by Prof. Norio Kaifu about IYA2009 and Japan activity during this event. In his talks, Prof. Kaifu also proposed network collaboration in Asian Star. Asian star is a collaboration program between countries in Asia to collect good myth/legends relating to stars and universe in each counties and regions.
Why do we need this? Until nowadays, all stories about stars and universe are mostly based on Greek or Roman culture and legends while this region are rich of cultures and stories. In accordance to that, we can use ethnoastronomy and archeoastronomy as a stepping stone to explain the right meaning of astronomical event. One representative from Indonesia, Dewi Pramesti, talked about her research on this field entitled “Folklore as an Astronomical Study of Indonesian Traditional Society, Case Study: Bima Sakti and Betara Kala”.
During APRIM 2008, Asia Pacific network wass not the only topic. We also had South East Asia Astronomy Network (SEAAN) topic by Dr. Hakim L. Malasan and Dr. Busaba Kramer. In his talks Dr. Hakim told us about Astronomy development in this region. SEAAN aims to establish effective mechanisms for nurturing and sharing the development and experiences in astronomy research and education among South-East Asian countries.
The idea of networking on astronomy education for teachers and students was positively responded to be developed among SEAAN countries in the future. Another networking proposal also came from Gunma Astronomical Observatories (GAO) in Japan for International networking on astronomy research and education. One of the network collaboration by Gunma is between Gunma Astronomical Observatory and Bosscha Observatory in Indonesia through GAO-ITB RTS for remote service observation between both countries.
Aside to the networking program, there were reports about astronomy education and popularisation from several countries like Azerbaijan, Japan, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia. From Japan, Dr. H. Agata shows us his galileoscope, which was really simple, nice and very useful for educational purpose. Moreover, it is cheap.
From Indonesia, Avivah Yamani from langitselatan (southern sky) talked about astronomy communicating through online media. Langitselatan, an astronomy media in Indonesia language, was built since 2005 under the named centaurusonline.com. But in 2007 they changed the name to Indonesia language (langitselatan.com). As an online media, this site does not only give information about astronomy but provide simple application as well. Online skymap is one of user favorite page in this site. From this webpage, Avivah and friends also analyze users characteristic and needs, and found out that their main problem is the lack of fundamental knowledge on Astronomy. So fundamental education in science especially physics and astronomy, are needed.
For IYA 2009, there are 4 cornerstone projects introduced to the participants; Galileoscope, Universe Awareness, Developing Astronomy Globally and Galileo Teacher Training Program. These 4 cornerstone project have been proposed to be networking in Asia Pacific, in order to be able to work together to develop astronomy education and popularisation in these region for teachers, students, and also for all disadvantage children.
IYA 2009 reports also came from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Canada, Russia, and Thailand. Each country had unique program related to their culture and needs.
published in 2nd IOAA Newsletter