Indonesia will soon have the largest Observatory facility in Southeast Asia, which is planned to be built on the Mount Timau Slope in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. This is good news for the world of science and technology in Indonesia. The Minister of Research, Technology and Higher Education, Mohammad Nasir will launch the National Observatory and Dark Sky National Park site. The program was planned to be held on Monday, July 9, 2017 at the location of the observatory site on the slopes of Mount Timau, NTT.
Based on the official release of the National Institute of Aviation and Space (LAPAN), the site will be equipped with a modern optical telescope with a diameter of 3.8 meters. The reason for choosing the slopes of Mount Timau as an observatory site by LAPAN is because the area is ideal for space observations. “The climate and weather in Kupang are very suitable for astronomical observations because the drought is long and the rainfall is low. The sky is clear of light pollution because it is far from settlements and close to equatorial latitude, less than 10 degrees,” said Jasyanto, Head of LAPAN’s Public Relations Section.
Besides launching a site on the slopes of Mount Timau, Head of LAPAN will also launch the Timau National Observatory Operational Headquarters and the Science Center in Tilong, Kupang, NTT. The construction of the national observatory is the result of LAPAN’s collaboration with the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Nusa Cendana University (Undana) and the Kupang Regency Government. With the existence of the observatory site in Kupang, LAPAN hopes to encourage the advancement of science and space in Indonesia. In addition, increasing the participation of East Indonesian people in the field of astronomers and also opening tourism opportunities.
The program is planned to be attended by 300 invited guests and 1000 people around the site. After that, LAPAN will hold a star observation event at the end of the event to show the beauty of space from the slopes of Mount Timau.
Agus Pudji Prasetyono, Expert Staff of the Menristekdikti in the field of Relevance and Productivity, said that the construction of this observatory will provide benefits in various aspects, ranging from science, economics to social. For example, the presence of observatories will trigger the tourism sector so that infrastructure is needed to support activities in Amfoang. He also encouraged universities in NTT to prepare study programs relevant to the management of observatories. “Kemenristekdikti will continue to push as hard as possible so that the construction of this observatory goes according to plan,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kupang Regent Ayub Titu Eki admitted that Amfoang was currently one of the areas left behind. People’s life is very difficult because access to transportation and communication is often interrupted. Therefore, with the construction of this observatory, Ayub hopes that infrastructure development, particularly road access to Amfoang, will be carried out immediately. Thus, in the future, the economic activities of the Amfoang community can slowly increase. “Although Indonesia has been independent for more than 70 years, many people say that Amfoang has not enjoyed independence because of lack of development.
But today we see the Government giving a gift in the form of an observatory which is the answer to the prayers and struggles of the Amfoang people for this, “said Job. The Timau mountainous area is considered to be the right location to build a new observatory to replace the Bosscha observatory in Lembang, West Java, where the surrounding area has been crowded with residential areas. This national observatory is a collaboration between LAPAN and the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Nusa Cendana University (Undana) Kupang and the Kupang Regency Government.