to Boost Astronomy Visibility in Algeria
Coming centuries motto
“Countless suns, many worlds, one universe, ours to discover.”
Tomasso Maccarno, Italian National Institute for Astrophysics at the IYA2009 closing ceremony, adding:
"It is not just the end of the year but the beginning of an “International Century of Astronomy.”
Full Report in pdf
...Its main points
the Stage ...
Click on it for higher resolution
was instrumental in laying down the ground for giving
the IYA 2009 in Algeria an early start
Furthermore, it produced the Algerian
poster of IYA-09 which was widely distributed
all over Algeria. More about the genesis
of the poster here.
are the Various Outreach Activities in Eight Categories
Carried Out by Sirius in 2009 so as to Make
Shines in Algeria"
Sirius Storming the Media:
Winning over the Media to the (Astronomy) Cause
Astronomy on National News
|...and in the written media
- The 100 Hours of Astronomy
as an example
- The Ramadhan 09 Moon sighting, the
bitter battle for more rationality.
- Links to the various TV broadcastings.
- The Third Arab
Youth Meeting on Astronomy (Aug 09): The largest meeting of amateur astronomers in the Arab world for IYA-2009 !
- The Eight Salon in Popular Astronomy (Nov 09) :
A large Meditteranean astronomy gathering to celebrate amateur astronomy across the borders.
- Sirius Participation at the Khartoum Astro
- The TWAN exhibit was
twice at Constantine both in 2008
as well as the Antikythera
display from Athena Univ.
to the Public and at Educational Institutions
the Khadidja Middle School
- The Hamma Bouziane
- At the Ahmed Bey High
the IYA09 to the Campus
- Expo at the Chaabat
- Expo and lectures at
the Veterinary School at Khroub
in Scientific Culture : Cirta-Science III
And the Competition for the Best Algerian Astro Amateur of the
Science III competition organized by Sirius saw in its
first stage the best 500 students from 47 High Schools competing
to get a highly valued price: A travel to China to watch the
Total Solar Eclipse of July 22,
the longest of the century.
Most of the questions of the competition were Astronomy related.
are some of the scenes of the competition going on.
Quite a special one indeed: No computation, no hard
fact to learn, just pictures and video to watch before
answering the QCM. The various stages of the competition
run from January to April 2009 ending with the announce
of the results and the prize
Click here to follow the three
laureates in China.
"Best Algerian Amateur" Competition
Sirius organized, in coordination with
the IYA 2009 National Committee, an Astro
competition during its Astronomy Salon to reward
the best Algerian Amateur of the Year (Zakaria Hamdi
at left is seen with Dr. Segouani, the Algeria's SPoC).
The prize was paid for by the CRAAG.
"Maghreb of the Peoples”:
The Tunisian Connection
or How to Transcend Borders
- The Tunisian Astronomical
Society (SAT) Gathering -Tunis 18-19 Dec09
- The Association Jeunes-Science
Astronomy Days, Djerba - 22-24 Dec09
- The participation of Jeunes
Sciences-Tunis et Djerba and SAT at our gatherings the whole
- A quick diaporama on this budding cooperation across the borders.
Working with the Physics Teachers
“Astronomy is to physics
what flour is to the baker”.
Physics teachers: Nouvelle Ville Massinissa
- Training Physics teachers:
Zighoud Youcef High School
out to the Deep South :
The Sahara & IYA2009
Communicating with the Public in our Own Way
APODAR, the APOD’s Mirror,
The “Thuraya” Electronic Bulletin, and
the "Sirius Voice" Magazine
Forum on the Web and a Weekly Radio Show:
In Service of IYA 2009
Forum, ranked among the 5 best Arab forums on the
Web, has been place of exchange and a clearinghouse
of ideas and projects for the Arabic speaking astronomy
surfers. In particular, all the Astro news related to
IYA09 fit to be put were there. |
el-Marifa Radio Show
The Sirius weekly
Radio Program, "Nadi el-Marifa, broadcasting
Saturday from 16:20-17:00 GMT,
now on its twelfth years of activity.
It has carried out all the year long
news about the cornerstones projects and kept the public
informed on the ongoing events
The Aures National Observatory Project
The First Practical Steps were
initiated during the IYA-2009
An Academic leg Sirius is contributing
Aurès Observatory project was set during 2009 on firm ground
by becoming a funded national project with vital contribution
of some members of the Sirius Astronomy Association : Prof
J.Mimouni, the president of Sirius, and Prof.A.Bouldjedri,
founding member and now the head of the project. Furthermore,
this project was also well publicized by Sirius in the media
on various circumstances.
In fact from its very inception the Observatory was given
a public role both towards the society at large and the various
astronomy associations as one can see fom the communiqué
issued with the opening of the Ecole Doctorale d'Astrophysique
and prepared by Prof.Mimouni its coordonateur and the
hope to see in 2010 the grounbreaking...
Setting the Stage ...
...for the IYA-09 Algeria well ahead of time
was instrumental in laying the ground for the starting of
IYA-2009 in Algeria. It
devoted its Seventh National Salon
of Popular Astronomy in October 2008 to the theme of the
the coming astronomy year so as to give it an early kick.
Salons are international meetings as well as
traditional yearly rendezvous for the Algerian astronomy
associations from all over Algeria participated at that Astronomy
Salon and a wide range of strategic discussions were held
on how best to spread the (astronomy) word during the coming
Furthermore, Sirius initiated the constituting meeting of
the National Committee for IYA-2009,
in June 2008 at Algiers so as to structure the planned actions
as early as possible. That Committee was designated in May
2008 after the nomination of the Spoc.
Click to see the national
program of the Committee.
Planning of the IYA-2009 in Algeria
Here the planning of the IYA-2009 in Algeria
at the Sirius astronomy Salon in October 2008. Amateur astronomy
associations from all over Algeria swarmed the meeting room.
Deliberations had a strong international flavor...
...with the participation
of an international panel. We see on the picture at the left
of Dr.N.Seghouani the Algerian Spoc, Prof.N. Jaidane (Light
jacket) vice president of the SAT (Société Astronomique de
Tunisie), while at his right is Prof. Prof X.Moussas from
Athena University. Next to him is (on the same row) P.Fuentes,
head of the SAF History Commission.
Partly hidden next to Dr.Seghouani
is R.Lassoued the AAJAA
President. At the far right, crossing his hands is P.Morel
the French Astronomical Society's president (SAF), and next
to him (holding a notebook) Baba-Aissa from the CRAAG.
Another view of the planning meeting going on.
We notice seated in the foreground next to Prof.R.Attallah from
Annaba University, B.Tafreshi the TWAN
executive director, and few seats away (white hairs) is, Prof.G.Ferlet
from IAP and president
At his left (with glasses) is Prof. Bouldjedri from Batna University
and the head of the Aurès Observatory project. On the other
side are Dr.Abrouche and Dr.Boudjemai, the two Algerian Space
Agency representatives (ASAL), and
next to them are scientists from the CRAAG (Aksouh , Fouka)
at Algiers. Others are mostly representatives of the Algerian
amateur astronomy associations, in addition to Sirius members.
of the National Committee for the IYA-09 Celebrations on June
The Algerian National Committee
for IYA-2009, met in June 2008 at the CRAAG at Algiers,
under the leadership of Dr.Seghouani (At
right talking) with the participation of associations from all
Here the delegates in the gardens of the old Bouzareah Observatory
where the meeting took place.
of the Aurès Observatory Group at the CRAAG - Algiers on June
Salient Points of the Report
"Outreach &Education, the key words"
To put things in context, our Association, an independent
association of regional character under Algerian law, has always been
very much present on the Algerian public scene ever since its inception
in 1996. It was only natural for it to be mobilized for the IYA-2009,
and in fact as it is widely acknowledged, it was instrumental in giving
the IYA 2009 in Algeria an early start. In addition to its role in
structuring the National Committee for the Celebration of IYA 2009
in June 2008 well ahead of the actual opening, it devoted its Seventh
Salon of Popular Astronomy in October 2008, a large astronomy
gathering that the Algerian Amateur Astronomy Sirius organizes yearly
at Constantine, to the theme of the coming astronomy year so as to
give it an early kick. Many associations from all over Algeria participated
to that National Astronomy Salon and wide ranging strategic discussions
were held on how best to spread the (astronomy) word during the coming
Sirius was also much present at the grand
opening in Paris in January 2009, representing proudly the
Algerian amateur astronomy community.
How an independent, under funded, astronomy association could make
a perceptible change on the astronomy scene in Algeria is a feast
of significance and worthy of recognition and which may ultimately
be inspiring to others.
The Sirius Executive Bureau met several times during 2008 and 2009
to plan for large scale astronomy activities in due respect of the
celebration of IYA2009 which will provide high visibility of Astronomy
in our country. We, in particular, targeted the “100 Hours of Astronomy”
as our French partners, the SAF, contacted us in this respect in 2008.
We also programmed a large Arab
Youth Astronomy Meeting to be held in Algeria, and put on
our agenda various schools and Universities for astronomy exhibitions
Astronomy Sighting: for the Pleasure of the Eyes
There is no astronomy without stargazing, and there should be no public
action without sharing those night visions, so was our strong convictions
at Sirius. This is why we planned from early on that we should participate
at all the public sighting actions that will be organized in the context
- The 100
Hours of Astronomy
The first sighting program was incontestably the “100 Hours of Astronomy”
program, one of the cornerstone programs of the year 2009. Suffice
is to say that our Association won the first prize in the most coveted
category of the “Most publicized 100 Hours of Astronomy registered
event”. This prize is a tribute to the skills of Sirius in dealing
with the various media in a most effective way, and it has been described
as the most significant prize gotten by an Algerian astronomy association
since the independence of Algeria in 1962!
- The Total Solar Eclipse
of June 22, 2009 from China
Sirius went on planning for a National Caravan for the observing the
July 22 total Solar Eclipse from China, dubbed the eclipse of the
century in view of the exceptionally long duration of its totality.
It included the three laureates of the scientific competition Cirta
Science III as well as amateur and professional astronomers from various
parts of Algeria. We were proud to have set up this caravan who enabled
Algeria to be represented to this exceptional astronomical event where
all the Third World countries including the other Arab countries were
- The Galilean Nights
Another great public sighting program later in the year was the Galilean
Nights on the 23-24 October. Here was another opportunity to bring
out our telescopes and other optical instruments and do some outreaching
on public premises. Indeed, on two successive nights, a public gathering
was organized on the plaza of the largest Mosque in Africa, the Emir
AbdelKader Mosque at Constantine, whose location is quite suited for
astronomy sighting in view of the low ambient illumination, yet convenient
enough for its closeness to centre city. In addition, a rich program
of lectures and workshops was going on in parallel during these days.
- The Partial Lunar
Eclipse of December 31, 2009
The last significant astronomical event of the year 2009 was certainly,
as far as the Euro-African and Asian countries, the partial Lunar
Eclipse of December 31, 2009. A strong media action was organized
in addition to the organisation of a sighting campaign. A long string
of newspapers and radios published/broadcasted the Sirius detailed
communiqué on the eclipse and its circumstances while live interviews
were carried out.
2- Linking with the
Outer World and the Mediterranean Countries
Two international astronomy meetings were organized by Sirius during
the year, one in early August 2009, the Third Arab Youth Meeting on
Astronomy and Space Sciences aimed at the Arab world and with the
participation of 11 countries, and the other one, more Mediterranean
this time, the Eight Salon in Popular Astronomy with quite few countries
from Europe and the Arab world.
Those two events have drawn hundreds of participants and were open
to the general public. It also featured the International exposition
TWAN (The World at
Night) that we borrowed from the CRAAG
at Algiers where it was brought to by the Algerian Spoc. It enables
the public to taste astrophotography brought to a high degree of refinement,
as well as giving an international and multicultural cachet to our
events, bringing home the message that Astronomy is practised under
"Maghreb of the Peoples”: Linking with the Tunisian Associations
Our association linking to two large Tunisian associations is a bright
example of regional cooperation through common action. We were indeed
able during 2009 to establish strong links with the two large Tunisian
Astronomy Associations, namely the Tunisian Astronomical Society (SAT)
and the national Association Jeunes-Science, and we involved them
in all of our large activities. In return, we participated with strong
delegations to their most significant 2009 gatherings.
In view of the very average relationship between our two countries
at the official level, there are very little cultural exchanges between
them and a lack of incentive to initiate such exchanges. In fact,
there is no regular public transportation between our two countries
and all the travelling has to take place through illegal although
tolerated taxis unless one travels by air, an expensive mean of transportation,
especially when the only route is between the two capitals Algiers
and Tunis. Now from Constantine, Algiers is farther than Tunis in
Our exemplary relationship with the Tunisian astronomy associations
resulted in many cross border exchanges throughout the year 2009.
This crisscrossing of the common borders between our two countries
will grow stronger in the future, and that is one way of breaking
artificial frontiers and creating brotherly links, as well as a step
in constructing a “Maghreb of the Peoples”, as opposed to a “Maghreb
of the governments” confronted to the hazards of their fluctuating relationships.
4- The 2009
“Media Blitz”: Sirius multipronged Action towards the Media:
or How to Win over the Media to the (Astronomy) Cause? Check
our Special Report :The Media Blitz
Our media campaign was, in a well deserved way, described as a “media
blitz”: Events organized by Sirius during year 2009 were indeed shown
on National TV news five times during
the year (and
some 15 times if counting re-broadcasting), some
50 times on National radio channels
and an estimated 600 times in the various newspapers
(news, interviews, communiqués…). Most
of the "hits" as it were came from major operations like
the "100 hours of Astronomy", the "Galilean Nights",
crescent visibility for each of the start and the end of Ramadhan
while the official news agency, the Algerie
Press Service (APS), run bulletins from our communiqués
close to 10 times. Thus, millions of people in Algeria have
heard, some repeatedly, about the Astronomy events during the year,
thanks to these reaching out actions.
As an example of a success we are quite proud of is the media campaign
held during the “100 Hours of Astronomy”
which felt during the presidential campaign here in Algeria and for
which there were many restrictions on the access to the media for
everything which wasn’t related to the Presidential campaign. Yet
we succeeded in reaching out to the public. We got indeed a first international prize for that as mentionned above
Our action toward the radios was also significant, and although it
was not as prestigious as with the “heavy media” like TV broadcasting,
it enables us to routinely and on short notice inform millions of
people on breaking astronomical news, thanks to the high Sirius credibility. In fact, our Association has become along
the years the almost exclusive reference on Astronomy for those media.
perhaps did the media was so intensively used for promoting Astronomy
and the IYA 2009 goals.
Astronomy to the Public and at Educational Institutions
In addition, our Association provided the public with the necessary
tools to understand astronomy as a science of the Universe through
many local talks given by our experienced members at Elementary, High
Schools and cultural centres.
The University was not forgotten as quite few events were planned
under the motto of: "Bringing the
Intl.Year of Astronomy 2009 to
the Campus", the
largest one being a 3-day multi-activity event held in June at the
main Constantine University campus and the
Emir Abdelkader University . In addition, large astronomy expositions
were held in the various other campuses, most notably at the Engineering
one at Chaabat Erassas,
at the School of Medicine (Chalet des Pins), and at the Veterinarian
School at El-Khroub.
We organized during February till April 2009 a regional
competition on scientific culture, focusing on Astronomy
and involving in the first stage of the selection process the best
500 students from 47 High School. The three laureates were rewarded
with being part of the national
scientific caravan Sirius organized to observe the total
solar eclipse of July 22 from Shanghai in China. The financing of
the travel was secured through a grant from the Constantine City Council
In addition Sirius travelled widely across Algeria to participate
and dynamise the other astronomy events, in Ain Beida, Algiers, Béjaia,
Annaba, Oum El-Bouaghi, Skikda, El-Khroub… It also organized astronomy
events in the Sahara desert region in the deep
South, most notably at Djemaa (Wilaya of El Oued) , Guerara (Wilaya
of Ghardaia) and Ouled Djellal (Wilaya of Biskra).
with the Physics Teachers Community
“Astronomy is to physics what flour is to the baker”
Sirius organized a series of Astronomy Skill Building Workshops with
the physics teachers in the Constantine Governorate. In all, some
150 High School physics teachers from various High Schools in Governorat
benefited from the program.
Each workshop typically consisted of a day long special International
Year of Astronomy 2009 program, focusing on astrophysics, and where
it was argued that every physic teacher is ipso facto an astronomer
or should so be! The year 2009 was thus implicitly their year too.
The motto was appropriately chosen: “Astronomy is to physics what
flour is to the baker”. The Cosmos as it was argued the largest physical
laboratory one can imagine, dwarfing all the earthly ones in the range
of physical conditions reigning in it from extreme densities to most
dilute ones, in temperatures, kinds of matter, and certainly in the
time of the experiments! The Universe is indeed every physicist dreaming
place with a bestiary of celestial objects like quasars, black holes,
blazars, pulsars, with all types of matter from ordinary one in its
various phases including degenerate form, plasma form, to more exotic
and speculative ones like Dark matter, Dark Energy, monopoles, wimps…
From the offset, the program was meant to inject new vigour to the
physics teacher community battered by a big lack of vocations as physics
has become greatly unpopular with the students. The enthusiasm of
the teachers at those meetings surpassed our expectations and we had
to go beyond the imparted time to deal with all the inquiries.
7- APODAR, the APOD’s
mirror, the “Thuraya” electronic bulletin, and the "Sirius Voice"
- One important scholarly project carried out by Sirius and which
saw the light during the year 2009 is APODAR,
the Arabic mirror site of the famous NASA site APOD, standing for
the Astronomy Picture of the Day. This site whose numbers of visitors
already run in the hundreds daily from all over the Arab world and
beyond, can be a tremendous pedagogical resource for teachers as well
as a great source of inspiration for the lay people. It is a team
of young Sirius members under a scientific supervision which do the
daily translation and page making.
- Furthermore, a new communication medium has seen the light, called
Sirius Mirror". Thuraya, which is the name of
the Pleiades in Arabic, has for editor is a 17 year old High School
student (Hichelm Guergouri) Sirius member. The contributions are however
coming from all over the Arabic world, and are under a rigorous scientific
supervision. It is meant to be an electronic bulletin of news and
views related to Astronomy geared in particularly to the internauts,
and thanks to the Sirius site where it is available for downloading;
it should quickly build up a sizeable readership. It further benefit
from the members of the Sirius forum who are more widely distributed
geographically while our Sirius members are mostly confined within
Algeria and in particular in the Constantine area. It is thus an example
of an action which uses the Internet ways of communication to the
outmost. It may indeed be said that as it is becoming further delocalized,
Thuraya, the Sirius
Mirror will become more and more a mirror of all its
readers which means basically the Arabic speaking contributors!
- In addition, Sirius
Voice, the Association's newsletter continued
to be published, and we managed to get printed a
special international issue published for the Third Arab
Salon on Popular Astronomy with the participation of professional
and amateur astronomers from 11 Arab and European countries!
Aurès Observatory Project
The Aurès Observatory
project was set during 2009 on firm ground by becoming a funded national
project with vital contribution of some members of the Sirius Astronomy
Association. We mention most notably its President who spearheaded
the efforts to have a National Observatory Project in Eastern Algeria
so as to cater to the needs of the Graduate Study Program ("Ecole
Doctorale d'Astrophysique") that
he is heading at Constantine Unversity, but also Prof.A.Bouldjedri
from Batna Univ., a founding member of Sirius and now the head of
the project. Furthermore this peoject was also well publicized by
Sirius in the media on various circumstances.
9- Few Important
Points about the Project
We would like to emphasize few strong points about the project:
1 - It was carried out by an NGO with spare resources, building on
the experience and dedication of a small group of women and men, some
are professionals but most of them are university students. The sixty
or so members (2/3 of them being female by the way), all worked on
a voluntary basis during their spare time and none got remunerated.
2 - We must also acknowledge that most of what was done couldn’t have
been possible without the freedom to assemble and carry out activities
from our own choosing that enjoy scientific and cultural associations
in our country. In particular we didn’t have to report to an administrative
body or seek any prior permission before carrying out any activity.
3- While some part of the budget was from fund raising activities
and internal resources, a good part was secured from city and state
subventions. Yet the rigorous use of the tight budget was a key to
success as we often were striving with extremely tight financial constraints.
We believe however as a general rule that should the same activities
have been carried out by a government body, the budget would have
been at many fold higher for a less inspiring result. This is a tribute
to the cost effectiveness of the NGO’s work.
4 - Thanks to their early strong involvement with the project, many
of our members have become well skilled in some specific activities.
We mention in particular media communicators, team leaders (their
involvement with the organisation of seminars…), and even science
lecturers (High schools, cultural centers, and youth audience in general),
in addition to specific ones like scientific theatre, mirror polishing…
5 - The various activities were carried out by competent members of
our Association with an experience spanning many years, and under
the supervision of astronomers. It also benefited greatly from the
expertise of friends of the association in universities and research
centers, most notably from Batna University and the CRAAG in Algiers.
This allowed the activities to proceed while providing the various
audiences and readership accurate, timely and relevant information.
We also wish to acknowledge the excellent coordination for many of
these activities with the Spoc and his role in disseminating the information.
6 - These activities, carried out during 2009, are the springboard
for many others to come during the forthcoming years. We also believe
that the success we obtained, especially in working with the media
for a wide range of sky observing activities as well as in motivating
the public, can be much inspiring to others provided provisions of
point 2 above are secured.
We think that our Association has done a unique job at the measure
of the importance of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, in
promoting the IYA2009 goals and advancing the case of public scientific
knowledge. In return, we believe that the impetus provided by the
IYA09 and its label helped us much in our public outreach and the
receptivity of the media to our solicitations.
We felt that connecting millions of Algerians to the World as it celebrated
IYA through astronomy campaigns like the “100 Hours of Astronomy”
and the “Galilean Nights” was a golden way to inject a hefty dose
of scientific culture as it celebrated with appreciation the unity
of Mankind, one under one Sky.
Year 2009 ended, a new one has started, and actions initiated during
that Mirabilis year will be pursued with new vigour. Of course other
associations were involved in the IYA2009 in Algeria, and we did work
hand to hand with them, yet we believe that our action in popularizing
Astronomy was unique in its scope, elaborate means used, our wide
and innovative ways of using the various media, and in its overall
Thanks to all the actors, Astronomy is now more than ever part of
the cultural landscape in Algeria. And indeed, in the wake of the
astronomy year, tens of new astronomy clubs have sprout out across
Algeria. It is important now to cater for their needs so as their
existence won’t be ephemeral like dragon-flies.
Astronomy Association Action:
to Boost Astronomy Visibility in Algeria
We, at Sirius Astronomy Association, wished to use
the impact of the Intl Year of Astronomy 2009 to increase the visibility
of Astronomy in Algeria, improve its public image, and leave a durable
legacy both at the public level and the academic one. This may look
like a titanic task for a mere astronomy association, yet as we will
show, using elaborate media strategy and hard dedicated work by its
60 strong core membership, we believe we succeeded in a non small
way in achieving such a goal.
- We organized various public sighting campaigns, most notably the
100 Hours of Astronomy for which we got a first prize, the Galilean
Nights, and the July 22 Solar eclipse from China, all well covered
in the media.
- At the public level, we organized a series of talks at schools and
cultural centres, as well as a series of Astronomy Skill building
Workshops with physics teachers. We also run a unique regional competition
in scientific culture focusing on Astronomy and involving the best
500 students from 47 High Schools.
- We organized two high profile amateur astronomy gatherings with
a large international participation so as to further link with the
neighbouring countries. We also set up an exemplary relationship with
the Tunisian astronomy associations, which resulted in many cross
border exchanges throughout the year 2009.
- The Aures Observatory project
was set during 2009 on firm ground by becoming a funded national
project with vital contribution of some members of the Sirius Astronomy
Association. Most notably its President who spearheaded the efforts
to have a National Observatory Project in Eastern Algeria so as to
cater to the needs of the Graduate Study Program that he is the head
("Ecole Doctorale d'Astrophysique" at Constantine Unversity),
but also Prof.A.Bouldjedri from Batna Univ., a founding member of
Sirius and now the head of the project. Furthermore, this project
was also well publicized by Sirius in the media on various circunstances.
Never before perhaps was the various media in Algeria so intensively
solicited for promoting scientific activities and the IYA 2009 goals.
We had communiqués, news, interviews flashed over the various media,
from National TV to the leading newspapers and radio channels. It
is no wonder also that our Association won the 100 Hours of Astronomy
Award of the “Most publicised 100 Hour of Astronomy registered event”.