Students take keen interest in astronomy

Bhutan’s first satellite Bhutan-1 CubeSat was launched in 2018 marking a milestone in Bhutan’s space science and technology journey. Likewise, Project Panoptes was started in 2019 in line with His Majesty’s personal passion and interest to pursue technology for the benefit of Bhutanese society. As part of Project Panoptes, six astronomers who are in Bhutan delivered a lecture to interested students and took them for a stargazing exercise in Thimphu yesterday. 

Project Panoptes installs telescopes that can be used to detect planets beyond our solar system. The initiative is to strengthen Bhutan’s space programme by inspiring children to take an interest in space.

During the recent astronomy lecture, over 50 students were taught about the intriguing concepts of star birth, death, and reincarnation. Additionally, many students joined the lecture virtually, demonstrating their eagerness to delve into the mysteries of the universe.

Jigdrel Yeshey Thinley, a student from Little Dragon Primary School, expressed his joy at being part of this rare educational opportunity. He hopes that more students like him will have the chance to experience such enlightening sessions.

Another student, Yuri Yuestho Lodey, shared her excitement about interacting with astronomers from around the world and having her questions about space answered.

Following the lecture, as darkness enveloped Thimphu valley, the students eagerly engaged with various telescopes to observe the celestial wonders from the serene Kuensel Phodrang.

Principal Tashi Chhoezom Namgyel of Little Dragon Primary School commended the students’ extensive knowledge of space, noting that they surpassed what textbooks offer. Connecting the abundant information available on the internet to their real-life experiences allows the students to apply and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.

The presence of school children at the event surprised James Schalkwyk from Breakthrough Initiatives, who initially expected an adult audience. However, he was impressed by the students’ intelligence and vast background knowledge.

Olivier Guyon, an astronomer from Subaru Telescope, highlighted the students’ curiosity and insightful questions, emphasizing that Bhutan’s clear skies provide an ideal environment for nurturing interest in astronomy. He expressed optimism about the bright future of astronomy in Bhutan.

The GovTech Agency organised the activity to educate the youth about space, science, and technology.

Devika Pradhan

Edited by Sherub Dorji

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