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.

Astro Art Contest (Deadline: August 15, 2020)

Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) Nigeria presents the maiden Edition of the Astro Art Contest for Elementary and High School kids in Nigeria.
The contest provides opportunities for kids aged 7-17 years in Nigeria to express their *Imaginations* of Outer Space in paintings!
The call for entries is now open!
The star prizes in this contest are SSVI homemade telescopes (Newton, refractor, two small spectroscopes). Other available prizes include Tablets, Solar glasses, Astronomy Hands on activities kits, NASA and OAD branded bags, AWB branded T-Shirts, among others.
For entries submission, painting should be done on an A4 sized paper accompanied with a short write up (not more than 150 words) describing the art work to be uploaded using the link:
Deadline is 15th August, 2020.

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.

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.

 

 

 

Lunar Eclipse event/Mars Opposition

We had the opportunity to experience the Total Lunar eclipse on Friday, July 27, 2018. The event held at Jabi Lake Park in Abuja, Nigeria. It was interesting to see Mars at its closest to Earth in 15 years. There was heavy rainfall earlier in the day and the skies remained cloudy for the whole day. This had a negative impact on our viewing but, we had a glimpse of the eclipse for about 5 minutes till the clouds covered the moon.

Jupiter, Venus and Mars appeared brightly on our horizon per time before cloud cover took its toll. We had several visitors and enthusiasts that came over and learned about the Lunar eclipse and Mars opposition. Some of them indicated keen interest in joining our team. One People, One Sky.

Unveiling the 5 Telescopes donated by Astronomers Without Borders at Air force Girls Comprehensive School

In the evening of May 16, 2018, the AWBNigeria team went to Air force Girls Comprehensive School, Airport road to unveil the 5 Telescopes donated to the team by Astronomers Without Borders. All the students of the school were in attendance and they were excited for the opportunity to take a look at the stars. This school participated in the recently concluded Girls Astronomers Camp at Obasanjo Space Center. One of their students, Kabir Ummulkhair Hassan, won the Astronomers Quiz prize.

The students were very organized as they waited for nightfall to take a look at the stars. As they waited, the National Coordinator of AWBNigeria, Mrs. Olayinka Fagbemiro and other AWBNigeria Team members delivered Pep Talk about AWB, Astronomy, and our activities.

On our horizon was Venus, Jupiter, Sirius and Acturus. We battled with Cloud cover as it is currently Rainy season in Nigeria. Nevertheless, the students had the opportunity to take a look at the stars.

We at AWBNigeria are very grateful to Astronomers Without Borders and all the donors for making this possible. We remain committed to spreading Astronomy throughout Nigeria and demystifying the subject of Astronomy and Space Science. Thanks and God bless!

 

2018 Girls Astronomers Camp

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:

  1. Kabir Ummulkhair Hassan (Airforce Girls Comprehensive School Abuja)- 1st Position
  2. Aki Jessica (Community Secondary School Asokoro)- 2nd Position
  3. 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.

Star Party (April 21, 2018)

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.

Cloudy Yuri

Against the odds that the weather posed in the evening of April 14, we celebrated our Yuri’s night at Julius Nyerere Crescent, Asokoro. The team worked hard on their preparations and publicity prior to the event but Mother Nature had her own plans.

Regardless, we had an eventful Yuri’s night. On arrival at the venue for the event, we set up our Telescope and like a magnet it attracted many curious bystanders. They wanted to know what the Telescope could do and the purpose for the event. This created an opportunity which we used to educate them about Astronomy, Yuri Gagarin and the capability of our Telescope & Binoculars.

We had giveaway flyers that had top facts about Astronomy, Space travel and Yuri Gagarin. We also had light refreshments for our audience. The clouds made it impossible to view any stars and the moon nevertheless, curious people used it to view objects in the distance. We had a star chart in order to show people the location and names of stars. We had several people that were seeing a Telescope for the first time, Kids that were excited about Astronomy and lots of questions to answer.

It was a lovely day and another step in the right direction for AWB Nigeria. One People, One Sky.