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GalileoMobile Amanar returns to the Tindouf refugee camps to share astronomy with the Sahrawi community, within the framework of the Fisahara 2024 International Film Festival

Sahrawi girl attending a VR experience in the framework of the GalileoMobile activities at the Sahrawi Refugee Camps near Tindouf in 2019. Credits: GalileoMobile.

Sahrawi girl attending a VR experience in the framework of the GalileoMobile activities at the Sahrawi Refugee Camps near Tindouf in 2019. Credits: GalileoMobile.

The Amanar team of astronomers, educators and filmmakers will travel to the refugee camps in Tindouf to participate in the Fisahara 2024 International Film Festival, which will be held from April 29th to May 5th, to present the virtual reality experience Desert Stars within the framework of the film festival. At the same time, it will also carry out astronomy activities in schools, teacher training and astronomical observations.

The Desert Stars virtual reality experience explores the sky above the Sahara Desert through Sahrawi astronomical vision and wisdom. Desert Stars has been co-created by the Sahrawi community and Felipe Carrelli, Brazilian filmmaker and member of GalileoMobile Amanar, in collaboration with the Degree program in creative media at the UFRJ university (Brazil), the Multimedia Research Group at CEFET/RJ (Brazil) and the Physics Institute of the Fluminense Federal University (Brazil).

In addition to being present at the festival presenting the virtual reality experience, the team will carry out astronomical observations and astronomy dissemination activities for the Sahrawi community and festival attendees.

As part of the activities scheduled, there will be visits to schools to carry out hands-on astronomy activities with students, teacher training sessions and astronomical observations. Supported by scholarships from the Amanar project, Saharawi researchers were incorporated to the team to participate in the study of Sahrawi astronomical traditions in collaboration with Andrea Rodríguez Antón, researcher in archaeoastronomy and ethno-astronomy, and member of the Amanar team. Part of this work carried out by Sahrawi researchers will be presented during these activities with teachers. 

Amanar's activities in 2024 are another step in the consolidation of the project that began in 2019 to inspire young Sahrawis with astronomy. In 2019, summer activities were carried out in the Canary Islands (Spain) with children who spend the summer with host families within the framework of the "Holidays in Peace" programme. In 2019 as well, Amanar visited the refugee camps in Tindouf, carrying out astronomy outreach activities, teacher training, astronomical observations and the beginning of collaboration with Sahrawi researchers on the astronomical traditions of their people. After a pause of a few years due to the pandemic, the summer activities programme was resumed in 2022, expanding it to more cities in the Spanish territory. Thanks to the collaboration of local astronomical research centres and associations that work with the Sahrawi people, the programme has continued to be carried out in the following summers and we hope for many more years.

The Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) joined Amanar in 2023. The centre organised an outreach activity in collaboration with the Castelldefels Astronomical Group (Astrofels) about astronomy for Sahrawi children who spent the summer with host families in Cataluña, within the “Holidays in Peace” programme. Fabio del Sordo, researcher at ICE-CSIC, and Jorge Rivero, astronomer and Head of Communication at ICE-CSIC, are organisers of the activities that will take place this week at the camps. 

The GalileoMobile Amanar project is an initiative in collaboration with the Canary Islands Association of Friendship with the Sahrawi People (ACAPS), and it is financed by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), through its Astronomy for Development Office and its Office of astronomy Outreach, and by Europlanet.

The GalileoMobile Amanar programme members who will travel to Tindouf are: Felipe Carrelli (Filmmaker), Sarah Massalkhi (Astronomer - Institute of Fundamental Physics - IFF-CSIC). Jorge Rivero González (Astronomer and scientific communicator - Institute of Space Sciences - ICE-CSIC), Andrea Rodríguez Antón (Astronomer - Institute of Heritage Sciences - INCIPIT-CSIC) and Fabio Del Sordo (Astronomer - Institute of Space Sciences - ICE -CSIC). For more information on the project activities, please visit the Amanar website.

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Alba Calejero