Thai “AstroPark” ready for takeoff

Thailand will open its largest astronomical observatory, which will also serve as an academic and learning center as part of a national policy to raise the level of science and technology capabilities among the people of the Kingdom.

Workers were putting the finishing touches on the Princess Sirindhorn AstroPark in the northern province of Chiang Mai, which will open its doors to the public on February 1. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the opening.

The AstroPark’s grounds will house an astronomy research and services center, an optics laboratory, an instrumentation development laboratory, and a planetarium. The 21-acre complex also includes a museum, an observatory, convention center, and amphitheater. The facilities were built at the cost of $13 million.

Northern Thailand is more mountainous than the rest of the country and further from industrial centers, theoretically making it a better location for an observatory because it should have clearer skies.

“The aim is to turn the AstroPark into a center for academic studies as well as a learning center to help visitors enhance their knowledge of science, technology, and innovations. The aim is also to help Thailand get to the frontiers of astronomy in Southeast Asia,” said Sarun Posayachinda, Director of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, which oversees the park.

Nature magazine wrote in 2018, that, “investments in national astronomical facilities and human resources through the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand have led to the rapid growth of astronomy in Thailand.

“Ongoing activities in key research areas, education and outreach will lead to further sustainable development,” the magazine said.

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