This week we are excited to welcome Pranvera Hyseni (Pran) to the Weekly Space Hangout. Pran is a celebrated science popularizer and the founder of “Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo” (AOK). She completed her B.A. in geography in 2019 at the University of Pristina, and now she’s pursuing her Master’s in Planetary Science at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Pran started showing an interest in astronomy at the early age of three, while Kosovo was still entangled in the Serbian conflict of the late 90’s. She grew up on a farm with access to clear night skies, a sight that early-on drew her to astronomy.
She single-handedly brought science to her community by developing a very powerful astronomy outreach organization, “Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo.” Pran established a large, world-wide network of both professional and amateur astronomers who support her initiative with equipment and other resources. She uses this support to provide activities throughout the country of Kosovo.
AOK became internationally recognized following invitations for Pran to be a keynote speaker at some of the world’s largest astronomy conventions and gatherings. Her visits to top observatories, universities, and NASA centers have broadened her experience in both observing and in taking data. Her public education activities were further expanded when she worked in various projects with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Kosovo, as well as other government institutions.
Pran wishes to help rebuild her nation by leveraging the public’s interest in astronomy. The AOK team now comprises two hundred volunteers.
Pran been honored by the International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center with the naming of an asteroid, 45687 Pranverahyseni. The Municipal Assembly of Vushtrri (Kosovo) named her a distinguished student, and she was also honored with the 24Under24 award by the Mars Generation as a young leader in STEM education. She received the “Master Outreach” award from the Astronomy League, and was named as Slooh’s Space Ambassador by Slooh.
Pran was selected as one of the five most influential women in Kosovo. Her current project is to develop and build the first observatory and planetarium in Kosovo.
If you are interested in donating to help build the Kosovo Observatory you can do so by visiting their Go Fund Me campaign site.
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