GAM 2019 Blog

by Yunos Bakhshi

My name is Mohammad Morawejzada- A member of the Afghanistan Astronomy Association. I was born in Bamyan Province, the home town of two big and old Buddha statues. But unfortunately, the Taliban destroyed both statues with explosives.

In 2009, I joined the Afghanistan Astronomy Association (AAA).  At first, we had no resources to do astronomy, but using astronomical pictures we went to many schools around Kabul city and talked about the solar system, stars, and other space wonders. Later, we the founders of AAA bought an 8-inch telescope and I very soon become the main telescope operator of the AAA. It is because I studied cinema and know how to use a video camera.

In 2013, we bought an inflatable planetarium which becomes the most interesting, attractive and exciting tool. Using this planetarium, I go to schools and organize planetarium shows for school children. Over the last 5 years, we managed to go to more than 400 schools around Kabul- the Afghanistan Capital and some major cities. Children love planetarium shows especially when they see the Sun, Planets or Moon very close and very big. Sometimes they jump to touch the Sun and planets. Unfortunately, due to the security concern, we can not organize telescopic show/observation during the night, therefore we mostly do planetarium shows.

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In 2016, we managed to publish more than 5000 astronomy books and distributed among school children. During the book distribution campaign again, I took the planetarium around Kabul city schools and organized shows for school children. Some children became very interested in astronomy. They became our members and thus I taught many of them how to work with a Planetarium. Right now I have more than eight girls and boys who do astronomy programs among their classmates. Many children talked about our programs to their parents and now the number of families interested in our programs increased. Therefore, every Friday- the Afghan weekend day- I organize Planetarium show for parents, where mothers and fathers together with their children attend our Planetarium shows.

Doing Astronomy in Afghanistan is not as easy as in other countries. Afghanistan is a Muslim country where the majority are radicals and have fundamental views. It is not so easy for me and my colleagues to talk about some specific topics such as; the creation of life on Earth, how the universe is created and etc… Therefore we are very careful and also many parents warn us not to talk about evolution and some other sensitive topics. Despite this, the children are very happy and love astronomy.

Schools in Afghanistan start at the end of March- based on Solar Calendar- which is a very interesting topic for children. Through Astronomy, they learn the Solar Equinox and Summer Solstice. This year, I want to shoot a documentary about Afghanistan Astronomy Association-AAA, and also about a number of young members of our association. We hope this year security would allow us to go to some provinces and organize Planetarium shows for Afghan School children.


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