On this coming November 3rd, the people of the Africa will be treated once again (if that’s the right word) to a solar eclipse. And the good folks at Astronomers Without Borders – an independent outreach program with global reach – will be doing all they can to make sure that students and sky watchers can safety watch it take place. And they are looking for help…
Basically, they are looking for donations so they can send tens of thousands of eclipse glasses to schools in Africa just in time for the eclipse. In addition to allowing for students to safely observe a major astronomical event, it is also a rare opportunity to expose students to science in a region where science resources are often non-existent.
We’re working with the IAU’s Office of Astronomy for Development who has contacts working with schools and able to distribute the glasses to them. The opportunity for this came up late so we’re working very hard to make it happen in the short time we have left.
According to the AWB website, schools have been identified and vetted by partner organizations in each country in Africa, and distribution networks have been verified. Every donated pair of eclipse glasses WILL reach a student for use for the eclipse, and will be given by the AWB free of charge.
The International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development, which is based in Cape Town, South Africa, is providing invaluable support and assistance through their many contacts across Africa. But alas, the program depends entirely on private donations. However, as Simmons explained, they are confident they can raise the money in time:
There’s no question we can get all the donations that are needed as long as we get the word out in time. We do probably a half-million dollars in programs each year based on the hard work of passionate amateur astronomers and educators around the world,” Simmons said, “all on way less than $25,000 a year.
If you’re interested in pledging a donation, simply go to AWB’s website by clicking here. Each pair goes for $1 to $4, depending on how many you want to buy. As for those of us who don’t live in Africa, I guess we’ll just to wait until Monday, August 21, 2017, when the next Solar Eclipse that will be visible from North America will take place.