The AMANAR project visits the Calar Alto Observatory

A dozen of children from the Granada Association of Friendship with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic have enjoyed the facilities of the Andalusian observatory.

In 2019, the GalileoMobile international organization and the Canarian Association of Friendship with the Saharawi People (ACAPS) launched the "AMANAR: Under the same sky" project, an initiative to promote and support the scientific education of Saharawi children living in camps of refugees in Tinduf (Algeria).

portada.pngAMANAR, which means Pleiades in the Berber language, emerged as an outreach project to inspire the Saharawi community through the observation of the Universe as well as to develop scientific skills, with a special emphasis on teachers, children and young Saharawi people to make them feel part of a global community.

That year, thanks to its association with the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC-CSIC), the project consisted in outreach activities and visits to the Canarian observatories with Saharawi children in the framework of the "Holidays in Peace" program. It was a real success for both the children and the adult collaborators, being even selected as a "Special Project" among the activities of the 100th anniversary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

The pandemic put the project in standby for the next two years, when only virtual training could be organized for Saharawi teachers through mobile devices. But this year, it has been possible to resume AMANAR normally and the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) has joined the project, with the aim of extending it to the Spanish mainland. 

On August 1st, 2022, a group of Saharawi children, who are spending the summer in Granada thanks to the Granada Association of Friendship with the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, as well as their tutors, visited the Calar Alto Observatory during an excursion organized by the IAA-CSIC and the astrotourism company Azimuth. For approximately two hours, the children participated in activities and learned about astronomy in a fun way. 

The visit began with a talk in the complex's visitor room, during which a basic astronomy talk was given. There, they also saw photographs of the observatory during the winter  ̶  to their astonishment, since they had never seen snow  ̶  and images of some of the most relevant objects in our Solar System. They also used 3D glasses to view some of the celestial objects and they were shown a realistic model of the Moon. 

At the end of the talk, they were able to see the Sun through two portable solar telescopes that, due to their characteristics, showed our “king of the sky” as a white (resp. orange) ball. At all times it was clear how amazed were the kids with what they were discovering. 

The visit concluded at midday accessing the largest of the domes at the observatory where, in a simplified manner, they were told how the 3.5-meter telescope works and the science that is made with it. The children were amazed when, at the end of the explanation, the guide rotated the dome to show them how it works. During the afternoon, they visited the surrounding Sierra de los Filabres, where they were told about the reforestation projects in the area. 

The intention of the IAA-CSIC, the Calar Alto Observatory, the Azimuth company and the Granada Association of Friendship with the Democratic Saharawi Arab Republic is to continue participating in this project and to extend it to the children sheltered during the summer in the rest of the Andalusian provinces, starting with Almería, home of our observatory, the largest one in the European mainland

Calar Alto Observatory is one of the infrastructures that belong to the national map of Unique Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (Spanish acronym: ICTS), approved on November 6th, 2018, by the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy Council


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