Astronomy glistens the first light into ‘Kingdom of Wonder’

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Royal University of Phnom Penh

Royal Thai Embassy, Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia

29 – 30 March 2017

The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (Public Organization), Ministry of Science and Technology extended their collaborations in astronomy and related field of sciences to the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’ via Royal University of Phnom Penh.


        The Memorandum of Understanding between NARIT and RUPP was inked at the Multi-purpose Hall of RUPP in the afternoon of March 29th by H.E. Dr. Chet Chealy – Rector of RUPP and Prof. Boonrucksar Soonthornthum – Executive Director of NARIT. The MoU mainly focuses on enhance relations by developing academic cooperation in astronomy research and astronomy education, by having both parties to encourage academic cooperation in the areas of mutual interest. Joint research and exchange programs between academic, technical and administrative staff are also to be promoted. The MoU shall last for 6 consecutive years with the possibility of extension upon mutual consent.



        Among over 100 witnesses during the MoU Signing Ceremony were Mr. Darm Boontham – Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Royal Thai Embassy, Phnom Penh and Mr. First Secretary, representing H.E. Ambassador of Thailand to Cambodia. As well as RUPP Executives, faculty members, Invited Lecturers and its very own undergraduates. Later that day, a closed meeting was conducted between NARIT and RUPP’s Faculty of Science to discuss the possible collaborations and legit actions to tackle the required necessity enabling Thailand and Cambodia to work closely in the academic fields of astronomy, science, technology and innovation at a large scale.



        NARIT as the regional node for Southeast Asian Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (SEA-ROAD) – appointed by the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU OAD), is striving to expand its extensive networks of international cooperation in astronomy and related fields across Southeast Asian countries, in the hope to eliminate educational gaps, lack of opportunities for proper education due to poverty and daily struggles. Cambodia has also agreed to send representatives to attend the annual “Southeast Asia Astronomy Network” (SEAAN), with the possibility of research paper presentations and public talks during the meeting. Given the fact that NARIT has recently been endorsed by UNESCO to establish the International training Centre in Astronomy under the auspices of UNESCO (ITCA), we are working round the clock to meet the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals – with RUPP as our recent exciting partner.



        During the trip, NARIT delegation also had the honor to pay the courtesy call to Mr. Darm Boontham – Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Thai Embassy, Phnom Penh, whose enthusiastic hospitality overwhelmed the delegation. Mr. Boontham mentioned that “[…] currently, Cambodia is growing at an extremely fast pace, focusing on 3 main categories of development which are education, healthcare service and agriculture. I’m very glad that we [Thailand and Cambodia] are currently at the zenith when it comes to diplomatic ties in every aspects.” While Prof. Boonrucksar reassured that “[..] in order to develop Thailand, we would very much like to develop the neighboring countries altogether for us all to be on the same page in the global arena.”



        Joint public lectures were also hosted at RUPP on March 30th including Opening Talk by Prof. Boonrucksar Soonthornthum on “NARIT International Collaborations and Infrastructure”, NARIT’s Research Astronomer – Dr. Puji Irawati on “A rich sky above: Astronomy in the 21st century” and RUPP’s Vice Dean – Dr. Chan Oeurn Chey on “Astronomy Education in Cambodia: Current Status and Way Forward”. The lectures were attended by Faculty members, Invited speakers, as well as 100 fourth-year undergraduates from the Faculty of Science, RUPP.



        In 2017, Cambodia and Thailand celebrate the 67th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Both Kingdoms have been enjoying a deep historical relations in all aspects and levels since the 13th Century. Thus, NARIT and RUPP take the pride to sustain this friendship in the academic and other aspects of relations from this moment forward.