Qeeri to expand Fascination Astronomy project
July 16 2016 11:47 PM
Dr Khalid al-Subai

‘Fascination Astronomy’, an initiative of the Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute (Qeeri), one of the three research institutes under Hamad Bin Khalifa University, will expand its activities from next academic year. 
Providing great impetus for the study of astronomy in the country, Qeeri scientists had recently announced the discovery of three new extrasolar planets. Three new observation units are being set up by the institute to further study the new extra solar planets.
“Our team is planning on entering elementary schools as well to develop an interest in astronomy at a young age and allow these students to contribute to the field of astronomy in the near and far future,” said Dr Khalid al-Subai, acting executive director, Qeeri. 
A community-outreach initiative of Qeeri, the Fascination Astronomy project reached around 75 schools during the two semesters of the 2015-2016 academic year, including high schools and middle schools. More than 2,800 students all over the country have benefited from the programme so far.
“We have also commenced a parallel plan for public outreach, and will be visiting public gatherings during national occasions and seasons, as well as during astronomical events such as Mercury Transit and Mars Opposition, etc.” explained  Dr al-Subai. 
“In December 2016, the first Arabic team from Qatar will participate in the International Olympiad on Astronomy & Astrophysics in India. We are working hard to organise a successful team and prepare team members for the competition,” he continued. 
According to Dr al-Subai, the school visits programme has several interactive activities. He elaborated: “The programme includes an interactive lecture about cosmos delivered by an astronomer. Students are then taken to an inflatable planetarium, inside which they can attend a live-sky simulation, visit the planets and deep sky objects, see how the sky rotates, and become familiar with the constellations and the names of the stars, especially those with Arabic origins. Students then use solar telescopes to see activity on the sun’s disc and listen to its boiling sound.”
Fascination Astronomy recently held the first Qatar National Astronomy Olympiad in which 35 high schools represented by their Astro Club students participated in solving and fulfilling four projects.They were nominated two months before the Olympiad, and presented their results during an exhibition that was held a day before the Olympiad ceremony.
The students  also took part in the International Olympiad Selection Test and 25 students out of the120 that appeared in the test to join specialised training sessions.These sessions will help select and prepare the best five students who will go on to make up the Qatar International Olympiad Team, and participate in the International Olympiad.

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