Last October 21, 2011, I attended the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Formal Gala Dinner at the Science Discovery Center in SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.
Fellow members from my org, UP Astronomical Society; professors and students from different universities namely UPLB, RTU, and DLSU; astronomy educators, and amateur astronomers were also attendees of this gathering.
The event’s theme was ‘Astronomy for Development’. It aimed to educate and promote awareness of Astronomy among Filipinos. It was also to inform the people about the importance of astronomy and to let them know the latest development and innovation in the field.
Speakers were Dr. Rogel Mari Sese, Head of Astrophysics Lab in the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and Physics, UPLB; and Dr. Kevin Govender, the current Director of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development.
Before proceeding with the talks, a short planetarium show entitled “New Horizons” was played to entertain the audience. It was an all-dome-video experience that features a majestic journey through our celestial neighborhood.
Dr. Sese was the first one to deliver a talk. He discussed several key ideas in pursuing Astronomy as a profession particularly in the Philippines. He further explained that having a career in astronomy is challenging and highlighted a few important points on what in takes to be an astronomer. These, according to him are the following:
- Passion – main motivation for one to learn
- Plan – [Because] the learning journey is long
- Perseverance – main motivation for one to finish
He finished his talk my leaving this inspiring message: “Be passionate and patient. It’s all worth it in the end.”
“Astronomy stretches our imagination.”“Science is about exploring God’s universe.”“Astronomy for a better world.”
A short open forum was eventually held after the talks to allow questions from the audience. A lot of curious questions about astrophysics have been asked by several students until after the formal dinner.
All in all, the event was truly a great and memorable experience.
I’m glad that IAU is still taking its commitment in expanding astronomy development programs in areas where astronomy is still an emerging and minor field (such as in the Southeast Asian (SEA) region), even after the successful International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009) was over. At the same time, I’m also proud that the Philippines is already taking part in holding activities such as this which enable young astronomers and students in particular, to further develop their interest in the field.
I hope that there would be more scientific collaborations such as this one, in the near future that could stimulate the rapid growth of science among developing societies.
Ad astra per aspera!