26 March 2015

Astronomy club of Marrakesh. Where it all happens!

On my latest astronomy trip to the Sahara in Southern Morocco, I met with many enthusiast people in astronomy. I had a blast doing many activities related to astronomy as Meteorite hunting, astrophotographying the night sky and learning much of astronomy in general at this fabulous hotel/observatory called Sahara Sky. 10 days of meteorite hunting, astronomy learning and stargazing in the Sahara was incredible and just unforgettable. Please join me in a series of posts on my journey through the Sahara in Southern Morocco and one of the most dark skies places I have ever seen.

Ali Hafili @ the Cultural Center Atlas Golf of Marrakesh
Behind him is the mighty 600mm
Richtey Chrétien telescope (The Valmeca T600)
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ KTY Toutatis.
On my way to the Sahara desert, I stopped in the beautiful city of Marrakesh for a few days. I booked my self in a hostel and got settled in. I had made an appointment with my contact Ali from the 3 AM Astronomy club (Association d'Astronomie de Marrakesh). We spent the day together visiting the city and spoke about their astronomy projects over there and my astronomy projects over in Finland.

City of Marrakesh
Credit: S. Lamoureux
Mohamed Ali Hafili is working at the Cultural Center Atlas Golf of Marrakesh. A place to see art galleries, exhibitions on fossils and rocks found in Morocco (Meteorites too). With the big telescope installed on the roof top, people can join Ali for observing the planets, the Sun or the Moon (See older post on Ali and 3AM astronomy club HERE). 

Ali was telling me that he had manage many activities with 3AM astronomy club; A trip to the Sahara desert with a group of astronomers, a trip to Oukaimeden Observatory in the Atlas mountains and many observation sessions with young students. A busy year I would say.

The best thing about Ali and his astronomy club is that we have been in contact for 3 years now and we have managed to consult each other on what do we teach and how is the people participating responding. Keeping in touch with other astronomy club's are crucial to the global astronomy outreach. It has been good to have a partner like Ali to show me what is the astronomy globally around the world, especially in Morocco. I have a better understanding of how people today view present astronomy, globally. This is cool.

Koutoubia Mosque @ the heart of Marrakesh.
Credit: S. Lamoureux
The Association of Astronomy of Marrakesh is doing good, Ali says. Always things to do, places to be for another session of astronomy with the kids, he continues. So I guess the astronomy scene in Marrakesh is booming and the people are involved, which is a good sign for astronomy in general.
Ali mentioned that the recent increase in international Astronomy event in Morocco (Tanger, Fes, Oukaimeden, Casablanca, Rabat) helped a lot.

The visit of the astronaut Dr. Mary Ellen Weber in many cities around Morocco and the the 77th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society, that was held in Casablanca, Morocco are a few mentioned that was organized in 2014.

If you are an intrepid traveller and a passionate of Astronomy, you have the pleasure to head for Marrakesh one day, I strongly recommend that you stop by Ali's 3AM astronomy club and observatory and say hello. It has been an unforgettable experience for me, so i guess it could be so for you to.

Please continue reading the next post of my Astronomy trip in the Sahara, Southern Morocco HERE. Follow the complete travel post series and enjoy the astronomy behind it. This is all part of the public outreach of Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.