In a remarkable stride forward for Bhutan’s space science and technology, the launch of Bhutan’s inaugural satellite, Bhutan-1 CubeSat, in 2018 marked a historic milestone. Building on this momentum, Project Panoptes was initiated in 2019, driven by His Majesty’s personal passion and commitment to harnessing technology for the betterment of Bhutanese society. As a part of this visionary endeavor, a group of six astronomers based in Bhutan conducted a captivating lecture and stargazing session in Thimphu, enlightening and inspiring students who eagerly participated in the experience.
Project Panoptes seeks to establish telescopes capable of detecting exoplanets, expanding Bhutan’s space program and igniting curiosity among children to explore the wonders of space. During the recent astronomy lecture, more than 50 students were captivated as they delved into the fascinating concepts of star birth, death, and reincarnation. Remarkably, numerous students also joined the lecture remotely, showcasing their profound eagerness to unravel the mysteries of the universe.
One enthusiastic participant, Jigdrel Yeshey Thinley from Little Dragon Primary School, expressed his immense joy at being part of this rare educational opportunity and expressed his hope that more students would have the chance to experience such enlightening sessions.
Another student, Yuri Yuestho Lodey, shared his excitement about interacting with astronomers from around the globe and having his burning questions about space answered.
Following the lecture, as darkness enveloped the Thimphu valley, the students eagerly engaged with a variety of telescopes, observing the celestial wonders from the serene surroundings of Kuensel Phodrang.
Principal Tashi Chhoezom Namgyel of Little Dragon Primary School commended the students for their extensive knowledge of space, surpassing what textbooks alone could offer. By connecting the vast resources available on the internet to real-life experiences, these students apply and deepen their understanding of the subject matter.
The presence of school children at the event pleasantly surprised James Schalkwyk from Breakthrough Initiatives, who initially anticipated an adult audience. However, he was thoroughly impressed by the students’ intelligence and broad background knowledge.
Astronomer Olivier Guyon, hailing from Subaru Telescope, emphasized the students’ curiosity and thought-provoking questions, noting that Bhutan’s clear skies provide an ideal environment for nurturing an interest in astronomy. With an optimistic outlook, he anticipates a bright future for the field of astronomy in Bhutan.
The GovTech Agency organized this engaging activity with the aim of educating and inspiring the youth about space, science, and technology. By fostering a passion for these disciplines among young minds, Bhutan is paving the way for a future generation that will continue to explore and push the boundaries of scientific knowledge.