Govt to Develop National Observatory in Amfoang, East Nusa Tenggara
Clear sky that is free from air pollution is necessary to observe stars, planets, and other sky objects. In that consideration, the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (Lapan) choose Amfoang, area located on the slopes of Mount Timao, Amfoang Tengah Subdistrict, Kupang Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) as the location of the national observatory.
The statement was enunciated by the Head of Lapan Thomas Djamaluddin in the event to mark the construction of the first National Observatory owned by Lapan in Amfoang, Monday (9/7). According to him, Amfoang which is located in the southern hemisphere is an advantage because of the number of observatories that observed the southern sky is only a few, among others in South Africa, South America and Australia.
Amfoang is the best location to establish an observatory because that area has a high percentage of sky brightness compared to other areas in Indonesia in which there are 250 bright skies per year that make astronomical observations in optical window possible.
City lights outshine dark skies so people living in the cities cannot see the beauty of night sky. However, people living in Amfoang can see hundreds of billions of stars forming the Milky Way, Thomas said.
In his remarks, Senior Advisor of Minister for Research, Technology, and Higher Education, on Relevance and Productivity Agus Pudji Prasetyono who represented the Ministry in that event said that the development of observatory in Amfoang will bring benefits to aspects of science, economy as well as social.
According to Agus, the Observatory will trigger tourism sector so it requires infrastructure that can support tourism activities in Amfoang. Moreover, universities in NTT should also play a role in preparing study program which is relevant to the management of observatory. Ministry for Research, Technology, and Higher Education will do its outmost to promote the development of this observatory to be in line with the plan, Agus firmly said.
In the meantime, Regent of Kupang Ayub Titu Eki asserted that Amfoang is still underdeveloped. The people living a tough life because access to transportation and communication is often cut off.
Ayub expressed his hope that the development of this Observatory can stimulate the development of other infrastructures particularly road access to Amfoang. The Observatory is also expected to stimulate the economy of people living in Amfoang.
Although Indonesia has been independent for more than 70 years, but some says that Amfoang has not enjoyed the independence yet because of the lack of development. But today, we witness the Government giving gift, the observatory, which is the answer to the prayers and struggles of the Amfoang community, Ayub added.
Amfoang Observatory is not only planned to be the largest one in Indonesia, but also in Southeast Asia. The Observatory will operate more than ten telescopes with various functions; the size of the largest telescope is 3.8 meters in diameter. The Observatory costing about Rp300 billion is expected to operate in early 2020. In the area around the Observatory is also designated as the Dark Sky National Park, which will be a tourism site of Kupang Regency for tourists who want to enjoy the beauty of the sky at night. (Biro Kerja Sama dan Kompublik Kemenristekdikti/EN) (RAS/YM/Naster)