A Boholana Grade 11 student was among the eight chosen Philippine delegates, along with 32 young foreign participants, to the recent National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Astronomy Camp 2018 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Senior high school student Dianne Ligon Mar of the Tagbilaran City Science High School (TCSHS) successfully made her way to the competitive camp and was the only student from the Visayas.
The seven other Philippine student-delegates were all from Luzon—three from the University of the Philippines (UP) Integrated School and four from the Philippine Science High School (PSHS).
The NARIT sponsored the ASEAN Astronomy Camp, which was established in 2015 as an annual activity to educate students from the ASEAN region on astronomy.
The activity was conducted under the South East Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (SEA-ROAD) and supported by the United Nations (UN) International Training Center in Astronomy (ITCA).
It was certified by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) and the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
The ASEAN Astronomy Camp is part of NARIT’s main mission to ensure the stability of sustainable knowledge transfer in astronomy and natural science through human capacity building at the regional scale.
The fourth since its inception, this year’s camp on January 25-28 had 40 ASEAN-wide high school participants—eight from Thailand; eight, Cambodia; two, Lao PDR; two Myanmar; four, Vietnam; four, Indonesia; four, Malaysia; and eight, the Philippines, plus their 10 accompanying affiliated lecturers.
The camp was held atop the Doi Inthanon National Park in Chiang Mai where the Thai National Observatory, which houses a 2.4-meter optical telescope, the biggest in Southeast Asia, is located.
At 2,565 meters above mean sea level, the summit of Doi Inthanon Mountain is the highest in Thailand and a perfect location for a one-of-a-kind facility where temperature drops to as low as three degrees.
While camping, the Boholana teen and her peers were given a chance to experience first-hand the professional operation of Team NARIT at the Doi Inthanon National Park Headquarters, approximately 15 kilometers to the summit.
They were kept busy by well-designed activities, which included the “planet walk,” astronomical distance measurement, and hands-on activities such as “making a sextant, making a comet,” using the Dobsonian telescope, as well as night and morning stargazing and solar observation.
The NARIT shouldered Mar’s registration, accommodation and food expenses while the Provincial Government of Bohol, through the Provincial Youth Development Office under the Office of Gov. Edgar M. Chatto, paid for her travel expenses.
Mar’s school principal, Corazon H. Samuya, helped facilitate the processing of the student’s camp qualifying and travel papers.
As an ASEAN Astronomy Camp alumna, Mar is favored and privileged this early to join other work-related activities at NARIT when she will reach 18.
It is the goal of NARIT to assist young, budding astronomers by providing them opportunity to build networks with like-minded students across the ASEAN region.
Young Mar’s selection to the rare learning exposure in a neighboring Southeast Asian land followed her province’s impressive hosting last year of four separate high-level ASEAN meetings. (Zjem Kisha R. Arigo/Dave M.)