On Friday, May 24, 2019, the IAU president, Ewine van Dishoeck came on a working visit to the West African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (WA-ROAD). She was hosted at the National Space Research & Development Agency, Obasanjo Space Center, Abuja, Nigeria.
Her first engagement was a closed door session with the management of the National Space Research & Development Agency and WA-ROAD. Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria organized a Space Science & Astronomy quiz for about 200 high school students, who were anticipating the chance to see the IAU president. After the meeting, she made a presentation that denoted,’We are all world citizens under the same beautiful sky,’ to a hall full of high school students, who eagerly anticipated the opportunity to listen to her. She had a barrage of questions from the students afterwards, and she gracefully answered every single question presented to her. After the question & answer session, she presented prizes to the top 10 students in the quiz competition.
The IAU president proceeded to the National Space Museum, where she was taken on a tour of the facility by the National Coordinator of AWBNigeria, Mrs. Olayinka Fagbemiro, and she inspected the WA-ROAD and AWBNigeria offices.
In pursuit of sustainable development in Nigeria with the use of astronomy, Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria organized the 2019 Girls Astronomy camp in Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria, with the aim of encouraging young school girls to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education in School. The two sustainable focus growth problems this camp aimed to make contributions are inequality and quality education. This event held on May 10, 2019 at Salem University campus in Lokoja. This program catered to 200 secondary school girls from different schools within Kogi state.
In attendance was the Commissioner for Education , Kogi State, Mrs. Rosemary Ojochenemi Osikoya; the Director of the Center for Atmospheric Research, Prof. Babatunde Rabiu; the Vice-Chancellor, Salem University, Prof. Dorcas Oluwade and other top government officials.
Mrs. Osikoya gave a motivational speech to encourage the girls to dream. She iterated that the girls have adequate potential and intellectual ability to excel in STEM but lack equipment, infrastructure, manpower amongst others. Prof. Oluwade commended the organisers of the program, saying it would help the girls develop an interest in STEM.
Engr. Yewande & Engr. Ekubo made presentations on Women in Aerospace and AWB Nigeria and its activities respectively. The presentation aimed at inspiring the girls to study STEM and the amazing possibilities that can come from it. They learnt about women’s contributions to the space race and science & technology. The girls responded with a lot of questions which were answered. They received a brief about the sun and used solar glasses to look at the sun.
Other activities for the camp included coupling of galileoscopes; constructing paper satellites; Universe in a box games; Tinkering with rotors and markers; and building lego structures. After all the activities, certificates were awarded to the participants and their school teachers.
In commemoration of all that Yuri Gagarin achieved as the first man to go to space, Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria organized a Yuri’s commemorative symposium at the Defence Space Administration Headquarters, Abuja. In the symposium, the National Coordinator, Mrs. Fagbemiro, made an introductory speech about our purpose at the meeting and she introduced the AWB members to the audience, which comprised mainly of staff of the Defence Space Administration. Engr. Timi Ekubo, an AWB member, made a presentation about Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria, our activities and upcoming projects. This was followed by a presentation by Engr. Onuche Ogu. Mr. Ogu made a presentation on Yuri Gagarin and Space exploration timeline from before the 1500’s.
The next day, April 12, 2019, AWBNigeria celebrated Yuri’s night in conjunction in National Space Research & Development Agency. Short talks were given about Yuri Gagarin, Space related questions were entertained and answered, and people were able to view the Moon and Sirius with AWBNigeria telescopes.
AWBNigeria in collaboration with Space Generation Advisory Council organized a Yuri’s night event tagged Inspire Abuja. It was packed with series of space related presentations and it ended with a star gazing session.
2018 was an amazing year for AWBNigeria. We organized a flurry of activities that keeping tabs on them would prove tasking, we learnt, we grew in number, and most importantly we kept true to our mandate of spreading astronomy throughout Nigeria.
Throughout last year, our outreaches have impacted on the lives of over 3000 school children and over 2000 members of the General public. Key events held last year were the Girls’ Astronomer’s Camp, Yuri’s Night, Mars opposition, Star parties, and many school outreaches.
2019 holds a lot of promise. We remain committed to spreading astronomy throughout Nigeria by virtue of the passion of our team. You can follow our activities on our Facebook page and Twitter (@AWBNigeria). If you’re in Nigeria, you can join us by filling the registration form here
We had the opportunity to experience the Total Lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27, 2018. The event held at Jabi Lake Park in Abuja, Nigeria. It was interesting to see Mars at its closest to Earth in 15 years. There was heavy rainfall earlier in the day and the skies remained cloudy for the whole day. This had a negative impact on our viewing but, we had a glimpse of the eclipse for about 5 minutes till the clouds covered the moon.
Jupiter, Venus and Mars appeared brightly on our horizon per time before cloud cover took its toll. We had several visitors and enthusiasts that came over and learned about the Lunar eclipse and Mars opposition. Some of them indicated keen interest in joining our team. One People, One Sky.
In the evening of May 16, 2018, the AWBNigeria team went to Air force Girls Comprehensive School, Airport road to unveil the 5 Telescopes donated to the team by Astronomers Without Borders. All the students of the school were in attendance and they were excited for the opportunity to take a look at the stars. This school participated in the recently concluded Girls Astronomers Camp at Obasanjo Space Center. One of their students, Kabir Ummulkhair Hassan, won the Astronomers Quiz prize.
The students were very organized as they waited for nightfall to take a look at the stars. As they waited, the National Coordinator of AWBNigeria, Mrs. Olayinka Fagbemiro and other AWBNigeria Team members delivered Pep Talk about AWB, Astronomy, and our activities.
On our horizon was Venus, Jupiter, Sirius and Acturus. We battled with Cloud cover as it is currently Rainy season in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the students had the opportunity to take a look at the stars.
We at AWBNigeria are very grateful to Astronomers Without Borders and all the donors for making this possible. We remain committed to spreading Astronomy throughout Nigeria and demystifying the subject of Astronomy and Space Science. Thanks and God bless!