Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences, and one of the most popular amateur hobbies around the world. In fact, there are thousands of astronomy clubs and groups across the globe, but in many developing countries they don’t have the resources to help educate their their members, as well popularize astronomy for students and the public.
“The enthusiasm of most of these groups are vast but they always come across the lack of resources to conduct programs,” said Thilina Heenatigala, from the Sri Lanka Astronomical Association, who has been instrumental in organizing astronomy book drives for fledgling astronomy clubs in developing countries the past few years.
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Astro Book Drive is a project that works on helping improve astronomy education in developing countries by sharing resources. Right now, Astro Book Drive is gathering books and other resources for an astronomy club in Indonesia.
So, c’mon – you know you have some astronomy books, pamphlets and other items that you’d like to donate!
“Even though we are much advanced in technology and internet has a vast amount of resources,” Heenatigala told Universe Today, “most of the groups from developing countries are lacking resources to conduct astronomy programs and educate people. As coming from a developing country myself, I can tell you that one of the most basic, yet powerful ways to bring astronomy to developing countries is through the simple gift of books.”
If you’re like me, you probably have a surplus of astronomy materials lying; these materials are valuable to groups from developing countries.
“This is a global effort and anyone/group welcome to donate what they have, even one book can make big difference,” said Heenatigala. “I’m hoping to keep the book drive running from December through February 2011.”
The group from Indonesia, langitselatan (LS) – Southern Skies – is an astronomy communication and educator media in Indonesia run by young group of astronomy enthusiasts with the vision of getting astronomy in the local media, astronomy education and awareness throughout the country. Heenatigala said LS has been working tirelessly over the years to achieve these by conducting star parties, telescope training, teachers training, hands on activities, story telling session, astronomy discussion and talk shows and astro-presentation.
To expand their efforts, LS hopes to build a small library which will be used by the members, students and the local community. Through the library project, they hope to increase the reading habits of young students and teachers as well. To achieve their dream of setting up a library to improve astronomy education in Indonesia, Astro Book Drive calls the international community to donate Astronomy reading materials.
There are other book drives as well, and will probably be more coming up in 2011. The Astro Book Drive project was started in 2009 as part of the International Year of Astronomy.
“Usually the procedure is to get a group/institutes from a wealthy country to run a book drive for a group in developing country, where they donate from 3 – 10 boxes of books. But for the Indonesian book drive, I had to put an open call since it’s an effort to set up an Astro Library there.”
For more information on specifically the book drive for Indonesia, see this link
Astro Book Drive website main page.
You can see a list of projects at this link.: