Soheil Salimi



                Global Astronomy Month (GAM) provides again new chances for all people around the world to observe night sky and enjoy observing the heavens above. It opens new windows of opportunity for amateur astronomers, teachers, astro-photographers and even astrophysics and astronauts to share their knowledge and experiences with public and new generations. GAM gathers new ideas not only in astronomy but also in “Art, Culture and Peace” by connecting people across the world together through the astronomy!

                GAM 2016 inspired a lot of citizens to share their joy and happiness by observing celestial bodies with each other in Saadat-shahr, southern Iran (well-known as the Astronomy Town, just besides the world heritage site Pasargad ). Asghar Kabiri (Founder/President, Astronomical Society of Pasargad Sky (ASPS)) who brought a unique passion of astronomy to this community since more than 20 years ago, and ASPS team conducted several remarkable events in the town during this April. Of course, most of events are based on wide GAM 2016 schedule but some new programs have been added which are mentioned below. Mr. Kabiri awarded “2006 Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Award_ Astronomical Society of the Pacific” and his precious efforts for promoting astronomy caused a significant passion for astronomy and stargazing in Saadat-shahr. This city hosted many astronomers/astro-tourists from inside and outside of Iran for important astronomical events and astrophysics/space seminars.


Where are we in this universe?
[A 10-years old student asked the historic profound human’s question]

                We believe that center of positive changing and progresses for all societies are schools and universities, as a result, GAM 2016 started from there. Students and teachers were excited by observing our star, the Sun, by solar viewing glasses and H-alpha telescope. They could also visit the sun-spots and asked their questions about our star (Fig. 1).

Fig.1, Global Astronomy Month 2016 started with the first lights of the Sun in April at Saadat-shahr-Iran


                Several education programs (followed by Question/Answer (Q/A) session, called “Ask the sky”) were organized in different schools of Saadat-shahr and 6 regions around it (Ali-abad, Akbar-abad, Jisghan, Madar-Soleyman, Boukan and Kordshoul) during April. Mr. Kabiri introduced GAM programs and answered the questions associated with space and astronomy (Fig. 2). After some observation events students were trying to search and find “meteorites” in a jungle out of the city. They learned team working and pleased watching the sky without light pollutions (Fig. 3).

Fig. 2, Mr. Kabiri answered students' questions _ "Ask the sky" programs was held in different regions and schools


Fig. 3, A group of students are busy on a new mission "finding meteorites", out of the city

             What’s more, the team presented the Sun’s beauty to the Pasargad Electric Energy Distribution Organization’s staff (Fig. 4), and raised awareness about light pollution in the astronomy town, how we can decrease it and how it influences on environment, human health and wild life. Hence, for public star parties the lights of some streets completely turned off in order to reduce light pollutions. Figure 5 illustrates before and after turning off the unnecessary lights along Ali-abad street during “International Dark Sky Week 2016”.


Fig. 4, Pasargad Electric Energy Distribution Organization - Let's talk about solar energy and light pollution here



Fig. 5, Turn off the lights please, it's time for star party! (unnecessary lights turned off during “International Dark Sky Week 2016” ) 


             Furthermore, ASPS invited people after Friday praying event in the main Mosque (a custom in muslim communities) to observe the Sun by H-alpha telescope, and solar viewing glasses and they were so surprised to know more about it. The program continued till mid-night by watching the moons, stars, Mars and Jupiter. In almost all cloud-cleared night skies during GAM, the telescopes were souronded by people who were so content to forget busy daily life and connect to the stars with family and friends, at least for several minutes. 

Fig. 6, Obsevation events in popular places/streets

Art, Culture and Peace

           We celebrated Nowruz (Iranian new year) and Global Astronomy Month for the first time next to the Tomb of Cyrus the Great (Fig. 7, April 2012), who was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire (550–330 BC) and presented the “first declaration of human rights” (called Cyrus Cylinder). So Pasargad world heritage site may can be the best place to celebrate “Peace Message of Astronomy” under motto of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) “One People, One Sky”. Students and visitors in Pasargad turned their eyes to the sky for a chance to catch a rare sight of Mercury passing in front of the Sun on May 9 (Fig. 8). In 2004, Saadat-shahr hosted an international team of astronomers including Mike Simmons (Founder/President of AWB) for observing Transit of Venus in Pasargad (Fig. 9).

Fig. 7, Nowruz and GAM were celebrated in Pasargad - April 2012



Fig. 8, Transit of Mercury (May 9, 2016) observed next to the Tomb of Cyrus the Great

Fig. 9, Transit of Venus 2004 - Saadat-shahr hosted international astronomers for this event (Photo by: Babak A.Tafreshi)

             Almost 40 students including Iranian and Afghan students participated in the Children's AstroArt Contest 2016. Some constellations were painted on the walls of schools (Fig. 11) and several analemmatic sundials were built by students in four schools under guidance of Mr. Kabiri.


Fig. 10, Children's AstroArt Contest 2016 (Paintings by: Fatemeh Barat-pour (right) and Razieh Mohammadi (Left))

Fig. 11, Constellations on the walls made the schools more beautiful 

             Another educational program was conducted as a theatre framework, 10th-century Persian outstanding astronomer “Abd Al-Rahman Al Sufi”, also known by his western name, Azophi (903 - 986 C.E.) talked about stars, moons and planets with students. “Al-Sufi was the first astronomer to describe the 'nebulosity' of the nebula in Andromeda in his book of constellations (atlas of heavens). He named the southern group of stars al-Baqar al-Abyad or the 'White Bull' after receiving reports from Arab navigators in the Malay Archipelago. We now know this group of stars as Nubecula Major (the greater Magellanic Cloud) ” [1]. The lunar crater “Azophi” and asteroid “12621 Alsufi” are named in his honour (Fig. 12).

Fig. 12, Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sufi (Azophi) talked directly to the students - The lower pictures shows the locations of Lunar Azophi crater (



             “Astronomical Society of Pasargad Sky (ASPS)” would like to express its sincere gratitude to “Astronomers Without Borders (AWB)”, “Pasargad Electric Energy Distribution Organization”, “Fars Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization” and all people, teachers and students who made Global Astronomy Month 2016 the biggest celebration of astronomy in the Astronomy Town as previous years [Ref.2, a report in French at Astronomie Quebec Magazine-2014, pages 66-70].


             “One People, One Sky”

Soheil Salimi
Executive Director of GAM at “Astronomical Society of Pasargad Sky (ASPS)” 
Paris _ June 2016

[1] Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sufi (Azophi) (903 - 986 C.E.): 
[2] Salimi, S., "Les gens de Saadat Shahr dépendent des étoiles" ,Astronomie Quebec Magazine, (Sep._Oct.,2014), p. 66-70: ​​


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    About Me

    Soheil Salimi was born on July 5, 1992 in Shiraz . From an early age, he has loved the environment and civil engineering. This great passion for engineering has led to an ambition to choose civil engineering as his major in academic studies. He entered Fasa University and achieved many awards during his undergraduate program such as Top Student of the Year Award in Civil Engineering and also ranked himself as the Excellent Student of Civil Engineering, Class of 2014. Soheil started his MSc. in Environmental Engineering at Shiraz University, Iran; and after awarding "Université Paris-Saclay International...


    Location:Shiraz, Fars
    Iran (Islamic Republic of)