A team of Nigerians in Space Science, under the umbrella of Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria (AWBNigeria), a non-governmental organization responsible for popularizing Astronomy and spreading space science education, awareness and developments in Nigeria, were among those who discovered asteroids during the just concluded asteroid search campaign organized by International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC), a NASA affiliate under which this search campaign was carried out. The Nigerian team made these discoveries through analyzing some image sets by using a special computer software called Astrometrical. These image data are taken by the PAN – STARRS, a telescope at the University of Hawaii.
These asteroid search campaigns allow participants around the world to make important discoveries of Main Belt asteroids (MBAs) and occasionally of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). Image data for general asteroid search campaigns are provided by the Institute for Astronomy (IfA) at the University of Hawaii. IfA uses the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS telescope located on Haleakalā to take images along the ecliptic where most asteroids are found.
The AWB Nigeria team, led by Miracle Chibuzor Marcel, a graduate of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, had participants ranging from university undergraduates and young professionals from diverse STEM backgrounds, drawn from different parts of the country.
The team had to undergo a training on the use of the asteroid search software by the team leader and thereafter, the image sets were downloaded and analyzed accordingly. During the entire search window, twenty-seven sets of images were received by the team at different time intervals, out of which tens of unknown moving asteroids were detected. At the end of the campaign, it was confirmed that the Nigeria team has made three preliminary discoveries of 3 different asteroids: P11iDr9, P11iEYU and P11iEZq.
Team Nigeria received accolades from Cassidy Davis, the IASC coordinator for their efforts. In the coming months, their observations will undergo further studies which include determining the asteroids’ orbits and orbital parameters, after which the discoverers will finally have the opportunity to name their discoveries.
According to available information on International Preliminaries, it was observed that Nigeria, Ghana and Benin Republic, which were trained by the AWB Team leader, were the only African countries that participated from the Sub Saharan region. These countries also made preliminary discoveries. The AWB team hopes to coordinate more African countries to be a part of future asteroids search.
Asteroids pose a very big danger to the lives on Earth as their orbits change significantly. One of them could someday head towards Earth. A typical instance of this is the Mount Everest sized Asteroid which hit and eliminated all the dinosaurs off the coast of Mexico 6.5 million years ago. More recently, in 2013, a NEO exploded near Chelyabinsk, Russia injuring more than a thousand people. That is why this campaign is very important to NASA.
In commemoration of all that Yuri Gagarin achieved as the first man to go to space, Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria organized a Yuri’s commemorative symposium at the Defence Space Administration Headquarters, Abuja. In the symposium, the National Coordinator, Mrs. Fagbemiro, made an introductory speech about our purpose at the meeting and she introduced the AWB members to the audience, which comprised mainly of staff of the Defence Space Administration. Engr. Timi Ekubo, an AWB member, made a presentation about Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria, our activities and upcoming projects. This was followed by a presentation by Engr. Onuche Ogu. Mr. Ogu made a presentation on Yuri Gagarin and Space exploration timeline from before the 1500’s.
The next day, April 12, 2019, AWBNigeria celebrated Yuri’s night in conjunction in National Space Research & Development Agency. Short talks were given about Yuri Gagarin, Space related questions were entertained and answered, and people were able to view the Moon and Sirius with AWBNigeria telescopes.
AWBNigeria in collaboration with Space Generation Advisory Council organized a Yuri’s night event tagged Inspire Abuja. It was packed with series of space related presentations and it ended with a star gazing session.
This event held on 28 April 2018 at Obasanjo Space Center Abuja. This event was planned and organized by Astronomers Without Borders. 2018 Girls Astronomers Camp served as a maiden camp for young girls to learn about Astronomy in Nigeria. The camp program was packed with Fun and Educative activities.
The Girls camp is an OAD/IAU (Office of Astronomy for Development)/(International Astronomical Union) initiative, funded and supported by Astronomers Without Borders International (AWB), Universe Awareness (UNAWE), VIXEN Co. Ltd, National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF), Milan, Italy, National Space Research & Development Agency (NASRDA). The camp aims to address the challenge of gender lopsidedness in the school enrollment focusing on the female gender in other to bridge the gap that exists between male and female children enrollment particularly across the northern part of Nigeria. Also, to encourage and motivate the girl-child in STEM education. We aim to reach thousands of school girls as we carry out these Astronomy camps in the different states across Nigeria.
The camp started by 12pm on 28 April 2018 with Registration and Red Carpet/interview sessions with the girls and accompanying guests. The National Coordinator of AWB Nigeria, Mrs. Olayinka Fagbemiro delivered a Welcome/Introductory address afterwards. Dr. Francis Chizea who represented the Director General of NASRDA gave a remark highlighting the importance of the event. The event moved on in earnest with Career Talk, Engr. Yewande Adeyeye spoke on the ‘History of Women in Space Science & Technology.’ Tea Break & Solar Glasses session followed afterwards. The Girls were excited that they could look at the Sun without getting hurt. The Editorial Chairman of ThisDay Newspaper, Mr. Segun Adeniyi, gave the girls a moral charge with his speech centered on the subject of ‘Cheating- Exam Malpractices.’ The next agenda of the camp was a STEM Quiz which comprised of 20 objective questions spread across Astronomy, Mathematics, Science and Physics. The top 3 candidates were:
- Kabir Ummulkhair Hassan (Airforce Girls Comprehensive School Abuja)- 1st Position
- Aki Jessica (Community Secondary School Asokoro)- 2nd Position
- Firdaus Audu (Voyage International School), Johnson Damilola (GSS Gwagwalada), Mbu Rosaparks (Blooms Academy)- 3rd Position
After the Quiz, the girls had lunch and Pep talk while eating. The Chairperson of e-Worldwide Limited, Dr. Salma Abbasi delivered the talk. She is a Technologist, Philanthropist and Social activist with over 30 years experience working in the field of technology and business, holding a variety of senior Executive positions in Fortune 500 companies. The subject of her talk was the importance of STEM. She encouraged the girls to develop interest in STEM courses and emphasized on the importance of their involvement in Science & Technology.
Hands on Activities followed the Pep Talk. There was a variety of activities in this session. The girls were put into different group to build a prototype of a Communication Satellite, Tinkering (using DC motors and Markers), Universe in a Box, Coupling a Galileoscope, Solar system modelling and the youngest girls made Paper Satellites. The session was very engaging as the Girls learnt something interesting.
Afterwards, the girls watched a movie called ‘Hidden Figures’ which depicted Girls involvement in STEM and Astronomy. Star gazing session & Barbecue ended the activities for the day. They had the opportunity to look at Venus and the Moon as they were the brightest on our horizon.
We at AWBNigeria would like to use this opportunity to thank all our Sponsors and Contributors for making this dream a reality. We remain committed to spreading Astronomy throughout Nigeria. One People, One Sky.
As part of the activities of the Global Astronomy Month, AWBNigeria joined other Teams around the world to have a Star Party in the evening of April 21, 2018. The event held at the ever busy Jabi Lake Park in Jabi, Abuja.
The weather was kind to us on the day because we have been experiencing cloudy weather for most periods in this month. The moon came out for the Party as well. Venus was on our horizon. The brightest stars were Venus, Spica, Sirius, Canopus, Atria, Acrux and Rigel Kentaurus. We educated a lot of interested passer by’s about Stars, Astronomy, Our goals and activities and entertained their questions. We had a celebrity guest present at the Star Party, Rear Admiral Isaac, the former Defense Space Administrator. He was actively involved as he shared his wealth of knowledge about how to use stars for navigation.
Our Vixen Telescope was the star of the day as usual. It presented us with clear visuals of the Moon, Venus and the other stars. Below is the gallery showing the activities at the Star Party.