On the 24th of January 2017, I got the greatest opportunity ever to attend the ASEAN Astronomy Camp 2017 that was held in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I got this opportunity because in November, I enter this competition in order to get this amazing experience. Unfortunately, I have to travel abroad alone for the first time without any of my friend nor teacher and I was the only one represent Liger. But there were also some of the other Cambodian students who came from different schools and so I have to travel with them and it was really fun and I feel more comfortable knowing that there’s other people I can travel with.
So ASEAN Astronomy Camp is an event organize by NARIT (National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand) public organization. The Camp welcomed 37 high-school students and 9 teachers from a wide range of schools across Southeast Asia. It comprises of 7 national representatives from Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam respectively. I represent Cambodia, obviously and there were 10 other Cambodian students too. So the idea of this camp was to introduce students to the science of Astronomy, technology and also give the students the greatest opportunity to experience with the reality.
This camp was held for 4 days, each and everyday is always busy. There were always loads of fun activities and loads of exciting presentation from scientist, astronomers and telescope experts. We were divided into 5 groups and we were always worked with the group for the rest of the camp. There are 5 big activities which were:
1. Make a sextant – We got to listen to a scientist and he talk about the stars attitude and directions of stars. And then he instructed us on how to make a handmade sextant so that we can use our sextant to measure stars attitude at night when we go star gazing.
2. Planet Walk – We have another talk from another scientist to present us about our solar system. Then we start our activity by calculating the distance between each planet (example from Earth to the sun) with a demonstration model.
3. Making a comet – This is my personal favorite activity because we got to make our own model comet using real equipment and ingredient.
4. Solar observation – For this activity, we use the reflecting telescope to see the sun. If we put a paper through the reflecting telescope, it will actually burn the paper because the sunlight is really strong. In order to observe the sun, we need to put a paper, not too close to the telescope, and then we will see some dotting point on it.
5. Using Dobsonian Telescope – The most challenging activity. We got to listen to a real telescope experts and he told us how the telescope works and different function of it. We then learn how to use the telescope with help from experts but at night, we were using the telescope at night to see the stars without helps from experts at all. It was challenging because the function of the telescope is complicated.
Talking about stargazing at night and in the morning was fabulously. First time in my life that I got to identify stars by naked eyes and also looking at different planets, stars, constellation, galaxies through strong telescope. And first time I got to experience with telescope too. It was so cold up on the mountain but I still make it through because I was curious and I want to talk and learn from the astronomers, scientists and everyone who’s there with me.
My first impression for this event was getting to exchange culture with other people from Asia that participate in the event. I’m so delightful to make friends with them and there’s nothing better than creating a new friendly relationship with other people. These students that join the event are talented and smart and very interesting to communicate with because of their cultures. The food in Thailand are so spicy but so delicious. I miss the food there a lot because whenever I think of it, it makes me hungry.
Talking about the other 10 Cambodian students that went with me, they’re very intelligent too. At first I was scared traveling with them because they all know each other and I’m left alone knowing no one. But it turn out that they’re very pleasure to be with, very kind, generous and funny for sure. I’m so pleased to be friends with them and I hope we will still be connected in the future or maybe we will go back to the camp next year together.
What I notice from this camp was, most of the people that join the ACC events are very passionate about astronomy and now I can see why they like to learn and explore the topic of astronomy because the idea of astronomy is very fascinating. It makes people wonder and want to discover more and more about it and it’ll never end.
This has been one of the best experience that I’ve got in life so far.
ASEAN Astronomy Camp Website
NARIT ASEAN Astronomy Camp 2017 Video