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Making a difference

By: CLIVE JACKSON

[email protected]

Clive Jackson is the Director of the Astronomical Observatory of Tavira (Sitio do Malhão, Tavira) and the Camera Obscura (next to the Castle in Tavira), specialising in education and public outreach.

WE ARE all on a mission in this life; most people go from cradle to grave without really making a difference to the world in which we live.

When we arrived in the Algarve and set up the Astronomical Observatory in December 1995, our intention was to create a small-scale activity to take advantage of the excellent sky conditions here. We very quickly became aware of a need for our services in an educational role to introduce the wonders of the Algarve’s night sky to young and old alike, in fact as the Observatory was getting around 10,000 visitors

Many children from primary schools and youth associations have visited the Observatory.
Many children from primary schools and youth associations have visited the Observatory.

a year we were sure that we could make a difference.

In June 2004 we opened the first Camera Obscura of the Algarve in Tavira’s historical centre and since then have received over 100,000 visitors. This project has been a success but it was the culmination of five years paperwork and an investment of over 250,000 euros of our own money (borrowed).

Following on from our work with primary schools, youth associations, tourists and residents, we also expanded the facilities at the Observatory and competed for a number of EU funded projects in science/astronomy and alternative energies to the value of 1.6 million euros. To our delight the projects were all approved and we attended prestigious signing ceremonies to celebrate all this. Now confident in being able to really make a difference in the Algarve, we progressed with our plans and our preparations only to discover that all these projects depend totally on bank guarantees, and science and education has little euro value to the banks, so projects of this types have practically no chance to succeed in the Algarve. So what happens now?

Our mission is to spark the imagination and to inspire both young and old alike so that they really can make a difference in this world.

We know that our mission in the Algarve is worth saving and the above projects will be welcomed by all and are important for the future well-being of this area, any help or ideas that the readers can come up with would be gratefully accepted. Together we could all make a difference!

Clive Jackson is an amateur astronomer and an imagineer who does his best to understand the universe, can be contacted on tel.: 281 321 754, fax: 281 324 688, email: [email protected]