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Astronomy in Central America
in the next 10 years
Lic. Eduardo Xavier Amador , MSc in Theoretical Physics
http://exaphysics.tripod.com/Fysik.html
Dept. of Physics, Advanced Research center and Studies [ CINVESTAV ]
of the National Polytechnical Institute, D.F., Mexico.
Depto. of Physics, University of Panama, Panama, Central America.
pŚ Svenska auf Deutsch in English en Francais en EspaŮol

Summary

We presented/displayed a global and summarized vision of the activities that are developed at the moment in the area of Astronomy in the region of Central America, as much at professional level as at fan level. We expose with clarity the necessity to continue the effort by the development of this science in our countries with the aid of programs of support like the Project European ALPHA, Project TWAN and North American Program TAD. We raised the work of the become fond of astronomers whose valuable aid can be used for a fast establishment of the bases on which Astronomy can lean.

In order to have a solid base to judge the possible development of Astronomy in Central America in next the 10 years, first we must know the present reality this science in our region and our relation with the developed countries that support this branch of the knowledge.     This report is not exhaustive and it only must like modest objective present/display of global way the present situation to them of Astronomy in Central America.

The Social Aspect

From always the humanity it has been fascinated by the astronomical events and the outer space.    Without concerning the educative level of the people, these always have found to interesting Astronomy, nondaily, but attractive.    Nevertheless, in our countries there is a clear and noticeable lack of interest by the development of any type of branch of science. Why a government must invest in Astronomy? He is just like to ask: Why to invest in culture and education? Why to invest in art? Why to invest in philosophy, entertainment, sport, humanities, sciences? It would be better then than all this disappeared and to invest only and exclusively in commerce, administration of companies, civil architecture and ingenieria, in medicine, ingenieria, in agriculture, carnicultura, armament, military service, public security! To invest in everything what short money to and medium term generates... In other words, to satisfy the immediate necessities with the human being: food, house, health and security... point! We know that the solution of the social problems has a high priority and that the bottoms are little like so that they are invested in developing this type of academic activities. But this is not a problem without solution! The countries also developed have equal problems, in relative proportion, and even so they invest in basic sciences!

We already know of memory everything what it teaches the history to us of the Astronomia and why this one to played an important role in the development of the economy, the culture and the knowledge of our civilization! We know that Astronomy has given already, and continues giving, its fruits and that the developed countries have known to operate such fruits... but, what has of the underdeveloped countries? In what it benefits Astronomy to excellent Centroamérica?Es for the development from the countries of the region? The answer is in the future : What estan doing the great powers and countries developed as far as Astronomy? Then, How we are going away to prepare, the countries not-developed, before such challenges? Answer : with preparation, qualification, education, training! Otherwise we will continue being the slow ignorantes poor men of always, cultural and social the cheap level, manual labor low who always we have been.. our children will continue being the employees of 3ra category who are in charge of the manual laboras... we will continue being to eter employees to us of the development alcazado by others... Perhaps as individual countries we did not prune to reach great goals, but if a union for a cooperative support settles down, results can be obtained faster... The same nature of Astronomy forces it to use technology very sophisticated outpost and [ communications satellites, opto-electronic networks of computers, Internet, apparatuses, etc. ], which is an advantage since it allows to enable to scientists in the knowledge and use of such technologies, which are applicable in ALL the areas of the theoretical and practical knowledge. The benefits revert to the country in education form, which allows, as well, to transmit such knowledge and to enable more professionals!

In addition, We are not Single! ... Programs of aid of countries developed towards Central America exist... the support is real [ 1 ] ... this can be taken advantage of and be exploded to the maximum. This opens the doors to us to many opportunities. First Astronomy, soon other areas of science and technology. The creation of a scientific center advanced [ a radio telescope, for example ] in, at least, 1 Central American country can open the doors towards more investment on the part of other developed countries! This type of investment soon lays the way to investments of another type, more orientedas to the economic thing! Why underdeveloped the foreign investors are cautious when investing in paises? Indeed by the subdevelopment... when these investors observe that reliable people as the scientists of developed countries invest in science, that will send the message to them of which Central America is " stable " and that the corruption and bad governmental handlings have diminished to such degree that is relatively safe to canalize investments towards these countries; they are safer to invest... are good candidates to invest! It is question of common sense: an investor will prefer to invest in a country whose level of intelligence and knowledge is high; the education provides the knowledge which aid to develop intelligence, intelligence attracts more intelligence, and an investor will trust his money to intelligent people and with knowledge, since this will cause that their investment is used effectively, making him make more money...

Many think that Astronomy in Central America cannot be done. Nevertheless, the reality is another one. We already have many things that before nonteniamos: specialized bookstores, networks of computers and their power of calculation, Internet, scientific collaboration with other astronomers of developed countries, exist the support to obtain posgrados in Astronomy, can be looked for and to obtain economic aid for trips to conferences and also http://cuevano.astro.ugto.mx/~ala/numeros/5/node20.html exists the videoconferencias [ ], exists support of international organizations dedicated to the development of this science in underdeveloped countries, etc. Then, why not to support more to those than they want to work for the development of this science? Astronomy can be used like an average one to make contact with the general public.    The fascination by the aspects and characteristics of the outer space is a powerful magnet that can attract people of diverse areas;   such situation must be operated for asi to approach the public but towards science in general. The same nature of Astronomy forces it to depend on high technology and, therefore, it can exist an interaction between small and medium industries in areas like the electronics, optics, engineering of presici√≥n, etc. Investigation can be done of high level in Astronomy using the immense astronomical data bases 2 [ ] that exist in Internet. It is enough with buying a software of suitable processing to make the work, and even there are many softwares free in this network that are used for the mining and analysis of data. No longer there is excuse!

At the present time a concerted effort is being made continue with the program of established development. In the 2001 it was carried out I SAW CENTRAL AMERICAN COURSE OF ASTRONOMIA and ASTROFISICA [ CURCAA ] and I SAW meeting of the ASSEMBLY OF CENTRAL ASTRONOMOS and ASTROFISICOS OF AMERICA   [ AAAC ] in Costa Rica [ http://www.astro.unah.hondunet.net/Poacs-actCA.html , http://capella.efis.ucr.ac.cr/viccaa/vicurso.htm ]. The present president of the AAAC is Astrophisicist Dr Jorge P√°ez (Costa Rica), Professor Alina Ort√≠z   (Nicaragua,   algomez10@hotmail.com )   funge like Secretary of this organization. The following course, 2002, will be possibly in Honduras. In the AAAC the possibilities of scholarships for Masters in Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico and Doctorado in   Costa Rica and Mexico were discussed; the possibility of the integration of the Central American Network and of making of this form investigation projects, in collaboration with other centers and the possibility that Iraz√ļ Volcano, in Costa Rica, can be the place of the future Astronomical Observatory To pave of Iraz√ļ.   The event was sponsored by the International Astronomical Union [ IAU ], the European Space Agency [ THAT ], the O.A.S. and UNESCO .
 

The Technical Aspect

The area of Astronomy and Astrophysics has come developing in the Central American   countries to a rate every greater time.     The fort impulse that is receiving Astronomy and the Astrophysics at Central American level must to thanks to several Programs of Development [ R & D ]:

This it reunites to several European countries (Spain, Belgium, Germany, England, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal) and Latin American (Argentina,   Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama ) to develop a goal in common: to offer scholarships and to train Astronomers and Astrophisicists so that these, when returning to their respective countries, promote the development and the education of so exciting science, aside from the implementation of programs of joint investigation between the countries members.

The Program ALPHA is born thanks to an initiative of cooperation  economic, scientific and technological between the European Community and the countries of Latin America , with the intention of improving the potential of growth of our region. This program arises from the experience of the European Community in the accomplishment of networks of cooperation of similar nature ( ERASMUS, MED-CAMPUS, TEMPUS, COMETT ). ALPHA tries to help to eliminate the deficiencies existences and to less surpass the inequalities and imbalances between the countries of both regions, improving the academic, scientific and technological potential of the developed countries. Also it is persecuted to develop the academic cooperation by means of networks of institutions of superior education (Universities and Research centers) of Europe and Latin America, as much at educative level as at level of development of joint investigations. The Central American countries that comprise of the Program ALPHA jeopardized to implement an Agreement of Cooperation for Formation of Astronomers and Astrophisicists for the Central American Isthmus . The European Coordinator for this project was the Dr Jaime Zamorano , of the Department of Astronomy of the Physical Faculty of Sciences of the Complutensian University of Madrid. Lamentably, the required financing could not be able to remove ahead this project and one of the reasons that it was not obtained that so necessary economic support was that the sufficient enabled human resources did not exist like so that the investment it was productive. Another reason but for which we must make an effort to us to more create such human resources in the area of Astronomy! [www.ucm.es/info/vicrint/UCM/International.htm , www.ucm.es/info/Astrof/jaz.html ].

Another program under the sponsorship of the IAU, much more the ample protection of the ICSU and with support of UNESCO has seted out. It went thanks to this program that took place sig. activities: VII the UN/ESA Workshop on BASIC Space Science in Honduras, and was inaugurated the Astronomical Observatory of Suyapa in this country, in 1997; it was made in Panama, in 1998, during the Total Sun Eclipse the 26 of February, IV the Assembly of Astronomers of Central America (IV-AAAC), and IV the Central American Course of Astronomy and Astrofísica (IV-CURCAA); [ occurred II to the Course of observacional Astronomy in the OACS of Honduras 15 January to 15 Feb, 1998 ] on acquisition and reduction of photometric variable star data using the telescope of 0.4m of the observatory and a photometer CCD; the Astrophisicist, Dr Armando Arellano Ferro (Mexico) gave a special course in El Salvador, Sept. 22, 1998, with a small telescope of 0,3 m and a photometer of the IAU, and emphasized on the physics of the radiation and the Astrophysics. The participants to this course were students of the University of El Salvador and members of the Salvadoran Association of Astronomy. The intention of this program is to help to the development of this science in underdeveloped countries.

The development in the Central American countries has been the following one:

Acknowledgments

This report had not been able to arrive at happy term but for the disinterested collaboration of many people: Nohemi Rivera [ Honduras ], Dr Jorge Paez [ Costa Rica ],   Dr Bernardo Fernandez [ Panama ], Prof. Eduardo Chung [ Panama ], Prof. Eduardo S√°enz [ Panama ], Prof. Etelvina Medina [ Panama ], Ing. Edgar Castro Bathen [ Guatemala ], Ing. Carlos Rodgers [ Panama ], Jorge Arturo Colorado [ El Salvador ].
 

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Additional links :
Lista de correos electr ó nicos de profesionales y aficionados centroamericanos que est á n directamente involucrados con la Astronom í a en Centro Am é rica:
http://exaphysics.tripod.com/Artikelvetenskapen/astroemails.html

LATIN AMERICAN NETWORK INFORMATION CENTER [ LANIC ]:  http://lanic.utexas.edu/       http://lanic.utexas.edu/la/region/astronomy/