REPORT: IDP Children Astronomy Outreach Project & COVID-19 Support for IDP’s

Because of ethno-religious conflicts and terrorism, Nigeria has over 2 million internally displaced persons (IDP’s), 80% of which are women and children according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). 42% of the internally displaced persons live in camps and camp like settings, while 58% live in host communities. One common result of this displacement is that it affects the education and mental health of the children displaced. In a lot of cases, the children drop out of school. This has resulted to an increase in the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria to 13.2 million children. This problem breeds grounds for inequality, illiteracy, peace & security problems and other developmental challenges for the future of the IDP children. As displaced children, they face an uncertain future, where it may be difficult to compete with their mates in other stable region in terms of education. Some of the children deal with psychological trauma and hopelessness as a result of their experiences during the conflicts.

According to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian affairs, there are 2375 locations, where internally displaced persons live. These sites include 293 camps and camp-like settings, and 2082 locations where IDP’s reside with host communities. These camps and host communities are mostly in the northeastern region of Nigeria including Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Taraba and Yobe states. There are other locations in the middle belt of Nigeria. For example, in the Federal Capital Territory, there are 26,460 internally displaced persons living in 41 settlement camps. There are others in Kogi, Kaduna, Benue, Nassarawa and Plateau states.

This project works to address these issues by setting up solar powered learning hubs in their camps and locations, as well as, use seasoned counsellors to conduct Cognitive Behavioural Therapy assessment on the IDP children. The assessments help to determine the state of their mental health. We partner with other organizations to ensure that those that need further help get the desired attention & care. The main objective of this project is to use astronomy as a tool to counsel, heal and inspire traumatized children that have been displaced due to conflicts in Nigeria. This project employs an interdisciplinary approach to achieve its objectives. Teams of counsellors conduct Cognitive Behavioural Therapy assessment on the children to ascertain the state of their mental health. The data gotten from the assessment helps the project team refer the children for the required mental health care. The IDP’s are located in remote locations mostly without electricity, therefore, a team of engineers’ set-up a solar-powered learning hub to serve as one of the deliverables of the project. The solar-powered learning hub comprises of solar-panels, inverter&batteries, Smart screen, HD-drive, Internet router and charging ports, all in a refurbished 40ft-shipping container. The solar powered learning hub is for the children to have access to learning material, and for the project team to engage the children remotely. Other project team members serve as science- communicators who are passionate about making tangible impacts using science. As their needs go beyond all these, the project makes provision of relief materials for the IDP’s. This project is an IAU/OAD funded project in its second round of funding for execution on a different IDP camp.

Interior of the shipping container before refurbishment
Interior of the shipping container before refurbishment
Interior of shipping container before refurbishment 2
Interior of shipping container before refurbishment 2

Data retrieved from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) assessments on IDP children at an IDP camp in Durunmi in North-Central Nigeria shows that 67% of the children had mild to severe depression; 55% had mild to severe anxiety disorders; 51% had mild to severe stress conditions. 27 girls reported cases of sexual abuse confidentially to the counsellors. The number of children examined was 250 boys and 250 girls. The data has been shared with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian affairs for further action and engagement with the appropriate authorities. The learning hub has been very effective in bringing an affinity for science to the children. We monitor their progress by periodic testing and the results have been encouraging. From our last session in February, before the general lockdown of the country, the counsellor recorded 12% reduction in cases with anxiety, stress and depression from a sample size of 45 children.

Our approach employs an interdisciplinary approach to be able to meet our objective of counseling, healing and inspiring the IDP children beyond their current predicament. The reason for an interdisciplinary approach is to deal with the situation of the IDP children holistically, because their needs go beyond Education alone. As a project team, we envision our roles as science communicators as influential agents in the society we find ourselves in. But not just any science communicator: as astronomy science communicators. Astronomy is indeed a unique science with the advantage of giving us a sense of place, a sense of scale, a sense of wonder. Astronomy helps us rise beyond ourselves and look at our planet for what it truly is: borderless and unique. So, as astronomy communicators, we have the vital role of reaching out to the public to start a movement for tolerance, peace and critical thinking. Also, this project uses indigenous language to teach STEM and also for counseling.

Refurbished interior of shipping container
Refurbished interior of shipping container
Refurbished shipping container, now solar powered learning hub
Refurbished shipping container, now solar powered learning hub

In the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is of great necessity that we provide support for the IDP’s. There is an apparent danger should an index case arise in the IDP camp because of the overcrowded living conditions in the camp. We plan to build hand washing points, distribute face masks, sanitizers, relief materials and posters that highlight the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. We will use this opportunity to install a desktop PC and provide android tablets for the IDP children, which came as extra support from the Office of Astronomy for Development. The Office of Astronomy for Development has supported this initiative with 20000 ZAR and we will be looking to raise funds to cover for all the objectives that we hope to achieve. Please support us with donations to the following account:

BENEFICIARY NAME: Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria Network

BENEFICIARY ACCOUNT NUMBER: 2123870665

SWIFT CODE: UNAFNGLA

BANK: United Bank for Africa Plc, Nigeria

THROUGH: CITIBANK NEW YORK, SWIFT CODE: CITIUS33, ROUTING NO: 021000089, ACCOUNT NUMBER: 36320321

Fundraiser for COVID-19 support for IDP's
Fundraiser for COVID-19 support for IDP’s

As an organization, our main objective is to spread astronomy and its benefits throughout Nigeria. The vision for this project is to have learning hubs installed in all IDP locations. The predicament of the IDP’s has a potential to affect their all-round development. This project will give the IDP’s the ability to dream and to be able to compete with their mates in other stable regions of the country. Establishing learning hubs in their camps and supporting them with psycho-social therapy will go a long way in helping the IDP’s to move away from seeking aids, rather to be stakeholders in the development of their society. This will also help in alleviating the number of out of school children in Nigeria. That number stands at 13.2 million today. This project also helps to promote a culture of peace, tolerance and critical thinking.

Annular Solar Eclipse on June 21, 2020. What Holds for Africa?

On the 21st of this month of June, our planet Earth will witness the 3rd out of six (6) rounds of eclipses scheduled for the year 2020. The first two eclipses were lunar eclipses which occurred on January 10th and June 5th. They were both observed from Africa. The forthcoming will be a solar eclipse. The remaining three (3) will be: July 5th Lunar eclipse, November 30 Lunar eclipse and December 14 Solar eclipse.

WHAT IS A SOLAR ECLIPSE?

This occurs when the moon comes between the Sun and the Earth in such a way they become so aligned or almost aligned in a straight form.  This results in some parts of  the Earth to be partially of totally obscured from the rays of sunlight. Solar eclipses can as well be called “eclipse of the Sun” and it should be noted that it happens during new moon but not during all new moon.

Image showing during solar eclipse, the moon is between Earth and the Sun. Image credit: NASA

There are three (3) but four (4) types of solar eclipses:
Partial
Total
Annular
Hybrid

Image credit: national eclipse. com

Partial solar eclipse is the most recurring and can  be seen alongside with each of the aforementioned three. It can occur alone. In such case there is no perfect alignment, so Earth transits along the  diffuse shadow  of the moon called the penumbra

Image showing what a partial solar eclipse typically looks like.
Image credit: Himal Bhandari from Nepal

Total solar eclipse is the most thrilling of all the solar eclipses. It occurs when the moon is in a perfect alignment and at its perigee to Earth. As a result of that, the Sun’s disk becomes completely blocked. Regions under the Umbra of the shadow of the moon experience total darkness, and as indicated earlier, regions of the world not under the umbra experiences partial solar eclipse (that is, penumbra). To have the best view of the Sun’s Corona, it is during total solar eclipse. It is not only the best but the only moment to do so. Note: Total solar eclipse occurs ones in every two years somewhere on Earth but any region of the Earth that has ever experienced it will encounter it again in the next 400 years counting from the year in occurred last there.

Portions which fall under the umbra experiences total solar eclipse while parts which fall under the penumbra experiences partial solar eclipses.
Image credit: TimeAndDate.com
What total solar eclipse really looks like. Those white in the background are the Sun Corona.
Image credit: NASA

Annular solar eclipse is the second most spectacular after the total solar eclipse and second most frequent after partial solar eclipse. Like total solar eclipse, it occurs when the moon is on a perfect alignment, but this moment at Apogee. As a result of that, the Sun’s disk is not completely submerged by the moon’s disk. So regions that fall under the Antumbra see a ring of fire called Annualus in Greek while the region which fall under the penumbra see a Partial solar eclipse.

                                                   Image credit: In-The-Sky.com
                                                                 Image credit: NASA

Hybrid Solar Eclipses for a given solar eclipse is the case where by some parts of the Earth perceives it as a total solar eclipse and other perceives it as an annular solar eclipse. This is as a result of the geometry of Earth. It is also called
Annular/Total solar eclipses. This kind of eclipse is the rarest of all. The last time such was experienced was on November 3, 2013.

                                                      Image credit: TimeAndDate.com

On June 21 of this year, we will experience Annual solar eclipse across some parts of: Africa, South – East Europe, Asia and the Pacific.

Regions of the African continent that will come under path of Annularity are: Republic of Congo
Democratic republic of Congo. Central Africa republic
South Sudan
Sudan
Ethiopia
Eritrea
and Into the red sea and beyond.

Nearby countries to these aforementioned ones will experience ONLY partial solar eclipse (penumbra). Every other person can stream it live from this link.

Starting from the Republic of Congo, it will kickoff as a partial solar eclipse at 4:46 a.m (GMT + 1) and then Annular by 5:47 a.m (GMT + 1) an will then move to the East according as depicted on the map below.

                                                                 Path of Annularity
Image credit: national eclipse. com

So if you are in or around these mapped locations and you do want to witness this event, you have to be on the guide from 04:46 a.m (GMT + 1), because  for a given point it will last for less than 3 minutes. the whole event from Africa to Asia, from Penumbra to Annular and back to penumbra will last for 5hrs, 38 minutes.

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS

It is very dangerous to look at the sun with your naked eyes, binoculars or telescope. This Handbook and Posters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) designed by the African Astronomical Society explains all about the eclipse and how to see it. A free android app on the eclipse has been developed by Alok Mandavgane for the Astronomical Society of India, and adapted for Africa.

 

Wishing you all a clear skies on June 21st

A Potentially Hazardous Asteroid To Make A Flyby On Saturday (June 6) Morning.

Following the news about the transit of Asteroid 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020. Another Asteroid dubbed Asteroid 2002 NN4 is set to make a flyby in the early morning hours of Saturday by these times according to the six (6) time zones in Africa:

GMT – 1 =  2:20 am
GMT + 0 = 3:20 am
GMT + 1=  4:20 am
GMT + 2 = 5:20 am
GMT + 3=  6:20 am
GMT + 4 = 7:20 am

 

Map showing the different time zones in Africa. Image Credit: TimeTemperature.com

 

Just as the name implies, Asteroid 2002 NN4 was discovered on July 9, 2002.
Compared to Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 is lesser in size, its diameter measured as at range of 254 meters to 568 meters according to SpaceReference.org This is roughly comparable to the size of a football stadium.

More so, according to NASA’s JPL, like Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 is also classified as potentially hazardous. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA) are the ones whose orbits come closer to Earth at a distance less than or equal to 7.5 million kilometers.
Asteroid 2002 NN4 will pass at a safe distance of approximately 5.1 million kilometers, which is about more than 13 times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

 

Image showing Earth’s orbit round the sun. Image credit: SpaceReference.org
                        Image showing the orbits of Asteroid 2020 NN4 and Earth.
                                              Image credit: SpaceReference.org
To play around with the orbit simulation, click here.

Generally, Both Asteroid 1998 OR2, Asteroid 2002 NN4 and 1,679 other Asteroids  are  grouped under a certain  category called Aten-Class or Apollo Asteroids. These are group of Asteroids whose orbital paths bring them in close proximity to Earth.

                                                    Image credit: Wikipedia
Lan O’Neill of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said: “In short, 2002 NN4 is a very well-known asteroid with a known orbit that will pass Earth at a (very) safe distance.”

The Asteroid makes a complete revolution about the sun within 300 days. It spins about its axis every 14 days 30 minutes.

Since the transit of Asteroid 2002 NN4 is slated for Saturday morning, Stars gazers around Africa maybe able to spot it using their backyard telescopes. It can also be viewed via various NASA channels or agencies serving the same purpose.

Lunar Eclipse + Strawberry Full Moon. What Holds For Africa.

Every year, our planet Earth is capable of experiencing  four (4) to seven (7) eclipses.
But this year 2020, we will experience only six (6) of them: four (4) lunar and two (2) solar eclipses.
We have already witnessed a penumbra lunar eclipse earlier this year on January 10.
This June month alone, we will experience two (2) of them, each of solar and lunar.
The lunar eclipse will occur on June 5th and the solar eclipse, on 21st.

Lunar eclipse occurs when Earth comes between the sun and the moon and its shadow falls on the moon.

There are three (3) different kinds of Lunar eclipse:

The total
The partial
The Penumbra lunar eclipse.

 

                Image showing how the different kinds of Lunar eclipses look like.
Image credit: Earthsky
                                                                    Image credit: Time and Date

During the total lunar eclipse, the three: Sun, Earth (at middle) and moon are on a straight line.
Here, the moon is completely submerged into the umbral of the Earth and we observe the red moon. This kind is the most impressive of all. And can be seen by everyone. The last time we witnessed this was on January 20/21, 2019.

Images showing how the moon is wholly within the umbral of Earth during total Lunar eclipse.
Image credit: Mocomi
                                                 The red Moon.Image credit: NASA

For partial lunar eclipse, with Earth still in between the Sun and the  moon but do not form a straight line, what is observed is a small part of the moon covered by the umbral of the Earth. It is the second most impressive and the last time such occurred was on July 16, 2019.

Image shows part of the moon covered by the umbral of Earth.
Image credit: Mocomi
Part of the lit side of the moon is covered by the umbral of Earth.
Image credit: Time and Date

Penumbra lunar eclipse is the one in which the Moon crosses the Earth’s diffuse shadow and it does not appear red. In fact, it is hardly noticed and it looks pretty much like a normal full moon. A slight dimming of the lunar disk is usually observed. This is the one that we are expecting on June 5th, 2020.

How a penumbra lunar eclipse looks like.
Image credit: Earthsky
Image showing the start, maximum and end of penumbra lunar eclipse. image credit: Hong Kong Observatory

What is general for all kinds of lunar eclipses is that they do not require any aid for use to be able to observe them.

So, starting from June 4th till 6th, there will be a full moon. During these periods, will lie behind the moon, is a  red supergiant star by name Antares. Which is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius the scorpion.

Image credit: nemesis maturity

But the  real event  starts on the 5th. Regions such as: Europe, Asia, Australia and Africa are the ones that will be privileged to witness it.

Image credit: Space.com

This Penumbra lunar eclipse is expected to last for three (3) hours, eighteen (18) minutes.
The time from start to end for the six (6) time zones across Africa are below:
\

Image showing the six time zones in Africa. Red corresponds to GMT – 1 and Black corresponds to GMT + 4. Image credit: TimeTemperature.com
Table showing the start, maximum and end of the lunar eclipse for the six time zones of Africa. image credit: AWbNigeria

Why was it called “Strawberry Full moon?”

Like every other cultures in the world has a name and meaning they call each full moon of any given month. The name “strawberry moon” dates back to the native Americans. June was that period of the year for harvesting strawberries. On the other hand, strawberries are not native to the Europeans, so they call theirs, “Rose moon”

Hence, we call it Strawberry full moon or Rose full moon.

As you go outside to observe the lunar eclipse + full moon, I wish you a clear night sky.

Recap of important activities in the last half of 2019: ASGARD near space experiments

The Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) Nigeria with the support of the Nigerian Army, from the 10th -14th June, 2019 embarked on a trip to Brussels, Belgium with a team from the NAOWA College, Abuja for a first of its kind Space Experiment organized by the ASGARD IX program.

The experiment, which involved flying some selected Nigerian Vegetable seeds to the edge of Space through a Stratospheric Balloon in an attempt to determine the effects of the near space conditions on the seeds.

The NAOWA College team, which comprised the School Principal, a Science teacher and 5 Science students together with the Project facilitators from AWB, participated in a number of other educational activities aside the Stratospheric Balloon Experiment during their stay in Brussels, Belgium.

The AWB-Asgard Team

The team had a guided tour of MIRA Observatory, where they received a lecture from Phillipe Mollet, a MIRA Observatory Astronomer. The students also participated in a number of hands-on activities. The Observatory tour afforded the students the opportunity to see and use different kinds of Telescopes and other astronomical equipment.

The team also visited the Belgium National Museum, where they had a guided tour of the different sections of the museum, the museum visit was particularly educative as it afforded the students the opportunity of understanding the history behind some of the science-based discoveries.

The team was at the Belgium Royal Observatory, where the NAOWA College students had the opportunity of meeting with the first Belgian Astronaut, Dirk Frimout. The students made a presentation of their experiment to the astronaut and his team. There were also lectures by Astronaut Dirk Frimout and Prof. Katrien Kolenberg, a lecturer and foremost Astrophysicist from the Antwerpen University, Belgium.

The school experiment was flown to the edge of Space on a Stratospheric Balloon by the Royal Metrological Institute at their Uccle launch site.  This was the highpoint of the visit as the excited students and the team watched with amazement as balloon disappeared into the clouds bearing the school experiment.

The team also had the opportunity of visiting the Brussels Planetarium, where they received a lecture on Astronomy Education by a staff of the Planetarium. They were also taken on a guided tour of the Planetarium.

The NAOWA College students during this visit, had the opportunity of visiting the Sint-Pieterscollege, Brussels on a guided tour of the school and a visit to the science laboratories, where the students had the opportunity of having a hands-on Space experiment in the Physics laboratory with the award-winning Physics teacher and ASGARD Project Manager, Erik de Schrijver.

The experiment was returned home to be completed on the NAOWA College school farm. The AWB team will also carry out a post flight seminar that would enable the students to plant, observe and analyze the results of the effect of near space weather on the selected Nigerian food crop seeds flown to the edge of Space.

The NAOWA College team is expected to return to Brussels, April 2020 to present the results of their experiment and share their experience with other students from around the world at the next year’s ASGARD programme.

Each participating member of the team was awarded a certificate of participation jointly by the Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) Nigeria, MIRA Public Observatory, Brussels, Sterren Schitteren Voor Iedereen (SSVI), Brussels.

The Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) Nigeria, on behalf of the Team Nigeria, would like to express their profound gratitude to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and the President, Nigeria Army Officers’ Wives Association (NAOWA) for making the dream of these bright Nigerian students come to pass and for affording them the opportunity of being worthy Ambassadors of our dear country.

 

 

 

2019 Girls Astronomy Camp Nassarawa

In the month of June, AWBNigeria organized a girls’ astronomy camp in Lumen Christi Basic Science School in Nassarawa state. The participants were selected from girls schools around Nassarawa state.

AWBNigeria continues to push STEM encouragement for girls and that drive was no different in this camp. The National Coordinator of AWBNigeria, Mrs. Olayinka Fagbemiro, gave an introductory speech to the participants highlighting AWB’s activities and the benefits of STEM Education. Engr. Yewande Adeyeye followed up with a presentation on the roles that women play in STEM and Space science.

The participants were then engaged with a flurry of science activities like building a model of the solar system, coupling galileoscopes, building satellite models, learning how to use rotors and motors and others.

There was also a science quiz competition that engaged 2 participants from each school. The winners received prices and other participants received certificates.

IAU President visits…

On Friday, May 24, 2019, the IAU president, Ewine van Dishoeck came on a working visit to the West African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (WA-ROAD). She was hosted at the National Space Research & Development Agency, Obasanjo Space Center, Abuja, Nigeria.

Her first engagement was a closed door session with the management of the National Space Research & Development Agency and WA-ROAD. Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria organized a Space Science & Astronomy quiz for about 200 high school students, who were anticipating the chance to see the IAU president. After the meeting, she made a presentation that denoted,’We are all world citizens under the same beautiful sky,’ to a hall full of high school students, who eagerly anticipated the opportunity to listen to her. She had a barrage of questions from the students afterwards, and she gracefully answered every single question presented to her. After the question & answer session, she presented prizes to the top 10 students in the quiz competition.

The IAU president proceeded to the National Space Museum, where she was taken on a tour of the facility by the National Coordinator of AWBNigeria, Mrs. Olayinka Fagbemiro, and she inspected the WA-ROAD and AWBNigeria offices.

2019 Girls Astronomy Camp Lokoja

In pursuit of sustainable development in Nigeria with the use of astronomy, Astronomers Without Borders Nigeria organized the 2019 Girls Astronomy camp in Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria, with the aim of encouraging young school girls to take up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) education in School. The two sustainable focus growth problems this camp aimed to make contributions are inequality and quality education. This event held on  May 10, 2019 at Salem University campus in Lokoja. This program catered to 200 secondary school girls from different schools within Kogi state.

In attendance was the Commissioner for Education , Kogi State, Mrs. Rosemary Ojochenemi Osikoya; the Director of the Center for Atmospheric Research, Prof. Babatunde Rabiu; the Vice-Chancellor, Salem University, Prof. Dorcas Oluwade and other top government officials.

Mrs. Osikoya gave a motivational speech to encourage the girls to dream. She iterated that the girls have adequate potential and intellectual ability to excel in STEM but lack equipment, infrastructure, manpower amongst others. Prof. Oluwade commended the organisers of the program, saying it would help the girls develop an interest in STEM.

Engr. Yewande & Engr. Ekubo made presentations on Women in Aerospace and AWB Nigeria and its activities respectively. The presentation aimed at inspiring the girls to study STEM and the amazing possibilities that can come from it. They learnt about women’s contributions to the space race and science & technology. The girls responded with a lot of questions which were answered. They received a brief about the sun and used solar glasses to look at the sun.

Other activities for the camp included coupling of galileoscopes; constructing paper satellites; Universe in a box games; Tinkering with rotors and markers; and building lego structures. After all the activities, certificates were awarded to the participants and their school teachers.

Yuri’s commemorative symposium & Yuri’s night events

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.

 

Recap of 2018 Activities

2018 was an amazing year for AWBNigeria. We organized a flurry of activities that keeping tabs on them would prove tasking, we learnt, we grew in number, and most importantly we kept true to our mandate of spreading astronomy throughout Nigeria.

Throughout last year, our outreaches have impacted on the lives of over 3000 school children and over 2000 members of the General public. Key events held last year were the Girls’ Astronomer’s Camp, Yuri’s Night, Mars opposition, Star parties, and many school outreaches.

2019 holds a lot of promise. We remain committed to spreading astronomy throughout Nigeria by virtue of the passion of our team. You can follow our activities on our Facebook page and Twitter (@AWBNigeria). If you’re in Nigeria, you can join us by filling the registration form here