It started with a steady trickle of people, but then – to the organisers’ delight – became more of a flood of about sixty attendees. The day was 30 June 2017, and the Société Haïtienne d’Astronomie (SHA) had organised their first Asteroid Day event.
The society was founded in 2013 by its president Dr Rulx Narcisse, along with Dr Eliode Pierre, Mrs Myriam Laguerre and others. “What is interesting about these astronomical meetings is seeing that there are still young people who are interested, and who know a lot of things already on this subject,” says Rulx, “Those who do not know have the opportunity to ask questions and find a network to continue to know more.”
And it wasn’t just young people. Haitian’s from 16 to 50 attended. They all helped to make the first Asteroid Day Haiti event a memorable success – despite some quickly solved technical issues and a quickly solved weather issue: the event was being held outside when the rain started to pour down, so everyone ran to a conference room inside the Institut le Narcisse, an educational institution that shares premises with the SHA. Once inside, the presentations and the discussions about asteroids continued.
“I am personally supporting Asteroid Day because I want my people (Haitians) to know the truth about asteroids and what to expect from them. We used to have some natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes but an asteroid impact would be incredibly different and global!” said Rulx in a previous article for Asteroid Day.
As well as to educate the country’s people about astronomy, the SHA Statutes and Strategic Plan call on the organisation to integrate into the global scientific community. Becoming part of the global community surrounding Asteroid Day clearly helps this goal.
In 2020, the SHA again organised an Asteroid Day event but moved it online because of the pandemic restrictions. Rulx gave a fully illustrated presentation, which you can watch on YouTube . A podcast version was also released on soundcloud.
In the future, Rulx says he would like to organise a cinema session about asteroids and allow participants to ask questions following the screening. In looking forward to a time after the pandemic, he says, “I hope it will be face-to-face and not online.”