Astro Tourism-A A +A
By Ver Pacete
As I See It
Friday, October 11, 2013
EXPERIENCE space like never before! What is the universe? How did it start? When will it end? What is the Milky Way? Why do stars twinkle? What’s the difference between planets and stars? Why do astronauts float in space? All these are wonderful questions waiting for exciting answers?
I was in Legazpi City, Albay last week for the annual tourism conference. I met the former senator, Nikki Coseteng. She joined us in our breakfast table at Oriental Hotel. She is a good conversationalist. Our topic started from the streamlining of tourism from the elementary school up to college in her institution, Diliman Preparatory School in Quezon City wherein she is president and chief executive officer. She invited me there as resource person to talk on tourism last February 2012.
Our conversation with Cristine Mansinares, the Negros Occidental provincial tourism officer, shifted to events in astronomy. She started talking about her NCeries project. This is about space dome, film showing, ask-an-astronomer, space science exhibit, solar viewing, star gazing and other fun-filled activities that could happen in a dome. She will be meeting Gov. Freddie Marañon on Oct.22 at the Provincial Capitol about this project which she will bring to Negros. She told us that the governor has approved it but details need discussion and she wants Tintin and me to go with her.
That was thrilling for me but I could not imagine getting inside the dome to sit down with my teen-age son John, and the two of us with different likes and dislikes, would listen to the astronomer giving lecture. Nikki said, “ Ver, to erase your doubt about what you know and what you don’t know, I am inviting you and Tintin to go right now with me. Our space science roadshow is ten minutes away from our hotel. It is stationed in one of the universities here in Legazpi City.”
The NCeries Space Science Roadshow is a complete resource provider for space technology and astronomy education in the Philippines. It features educational exhibits, services and state-of-the-art equipment to bring space science to life. Inside the Space Dome (Digital Mobile Interactive Planetarium), I was stunned like a 5-year old kid. The digital planetarium can accommodate an average of one hundred people at a time and up to 1,200 people per day in a 30-minute interactive show that stimulates a 360-degree display of celestial objects in a unique digital environment.
I thought I knew my astronomy. The astronomer giving lecture was amused with my reaction. I found out that my knowledge in astronomy on simple details is not enough. My teen-age son could be better than me. In this roadshow, there is also the collection of quality astronomical movies showcasing different technological breakthroughs in space science that provide a deeper appreciation of our expanding universe.
There are astronomers around to provide first-rate, updated information to make the discussion interactive and easy to understand. Participants are encouraged to ask questions and unveil their innate curiosity and fascination about the universe. In the space science exhibit, I found a rare collection of authentic meteorites, optical illusions, and stunning photographs highlighting the solar system, deep sky objects and space exploration. If the project comes to Negros, we may have the chance for solar viewing and star gazing sessions using high-powered telescopes. I was told that there is even rocket making and launching. Interested teachers could be trained at Galileo Teacher Training Program.
To deepen our knowledge, new discoveries are regularly made by astronomers and astrophysicists around the world. In the Philippines, Sen. Nikki Coseteng pioneered an Astronomy Awareness Program for students and educators since 2010. Coseteng said that this interactive Space Science Roadshow has inspired many students nationwide and encouraged them to start reaching for their stars by arousing their interest and curiosity about the wonders and intricacies of the universe and motivating them to pursue a highly laudable career track in space science and technology.
When this roadshow arrives in Negros, we will book ourselves to bring out the genius in every Negrosanon. We can be astronomers in our own dome!
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 11, 2013.