Explore the sky together!

By DA NANG Today / DA NANG Today
November 06, 2023, 13:59 [GMT+7]

For the first time, Doan Nguyen Huyen My, 5, from Hoa Minh Ward, Lien Chieu District, Da Nang was allowed by her parents to participate in a moon viewing event at ‘Bien Dong’ (East Sea) Park organized by Da Nang Astronomy Club (DAC). The little girl realized that the moon is very different from the imagination of well-known fables.

Here is a scene of an extracurricular event on astronomy organised by DAC for children. Photo: NVCC
Here is a scene of an extracurricular event on astronomy organised by DAC for children. Photo: NVCC

That is just one of many community activities organised by DAC in its 16-year journey since its founding. Mr. Thai Van Loi, the former head of DAC, who spent a lot of time with the club, recounted that DAC was formerly known as the Polytechnic Astronomy Club (PAC), established on October 21, 2007, including young people who love astronomy and are passionate about understanding the universe. Five years later, the club officially changed its name to the Da Nang Astronomy Club, directly under the Students’ Association of the Da Nang University.

Appeal for those with astronomical love

According to Mr. Loi, 16 years ago, astronomy was still a scientific subject that was unfamiliar to everyone. The birth of the DAC at that time received support from the Da Nang University of Science and Technology and the Faculty of Physics of the Da Nang University of Education, and at the same time received nominal sponsorship from the Viet Nam Astronomy Association.

The club has organised many attractive and useful activities, attracting many young people, contributing to expanding the astronomy-loving community.

“The club's orientation is to create a useful playground for the community of astronomy lovers. Here, people can observe the sky, learn about telescopes, observe interesting astronomical phenomena such as solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, meteor showers, as well as participate in activities and exchanges in soft skills,the knowledge of astronomy and space technology through presentations, weekly astronomy movies, quizzes and picnics...", Mr. Loi said.

In the memories of those with sentimental attachment to DAC, the club encountered many initial difficulties in terms of technology and equipment, especially when the price of the telescope was quite high compared to students' budgets.

Gradually, from an initial group with 8 members, DAC now has 30 permanent members and affirms its stature as a large network of non-permanent members who are former members through generations.

The club has connected with the city-based tertiary establishments to organize seminars, forums, workshops, and practical exercises on astronomy.

The club is also facilitated by senior high schools to organise extracurricular activities on astronomy for their pupils. There was also a time when the club was supported in organising for tourists to observe the universe from the top of Ba Na.

Interesting experience

The current head of DAC is Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang, a third-year student at the University of Science and Technology. Trang shared: “I learned about DAC in 2019 but it wasn't until 2022 that I joined the club. The first time I went camping with my brothers and sisters, looking at the universe through a telescope, I saw a very different world compared to the days when I was a child looking at the stars in the sky. The universe is vast and we are small. Directly looking at celestial bodies and astronomical phenomena, I suddenly feel more mature and understand many new and more interesting things".

From an introverted, quiet person, Trang became an active person, boldly standing in front of the crowd to share her knowledge about astronomy.

Also a new member, Luu Phuong Thao Vy, a student at the Viet Nam - UK Institute for Research and Executive Education, a member school of the University of Da Nang, said: “I feel like I have discovered a new sky of knowledge about astronomy. Realising astronomy is not too difficult, not too far away but extremely close. That is also what I want to share and convey to the community since joining the club."

For Mr. Thai Van Loi, joining the club is an opportunity for himself to grow up. Besides astronomical knowledge, what members gain are soft skills, joy, interesting experiences, and a rendezvous to move back and forth to during their youth.

“My house is in Hoa Khuong commune, Hoa Vang District. Since I was a child, I have loved looking at the sky. At that time, there were no street lights. I saw a constellation shaped like a map of Viet Nam, so I took paper and drew it. Later, when I looked it up to the sky, I found out that it was the Scorpio constellation. Every time I saw it, it was an emotional experience," Mr. Loi recalled.

DAC head Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang has made a relatively dense list of events for the club in 2023 as well as upcoming plans. Trang said it's stressful but fun, because the club's activities have been gradually spreading more to the community.

“One time we came home late from an event and stopped at a late-night restaurant. The shop owner heard about astronomy and asked, "Is astronomy forecasting the weather?”. Since then, the club has realised that astronomy in people's eyes is often a very new concept and we hope to bring knowledge and information about astronomy and the universe closer to everyone," Trang said. 

It can be said that for DAC members, the joy no longer stops at observing the moon, sun and meteors but it has expanded into a story of spreading astronomy passion to the community. Those things have become valuable luggage on the journey of young people who love the limitlessness of the sky.

Reporting by NAM DINH - Translating by A. THU