Zuhair bin Khaldoun.. Climbing the tops of the High Atlas Mountains

Zuhair bin Khaldoun.. Climbing the tops of the High Atlas Mountains

In the ancient past, the inhabitants of countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean described that roaring ocean as “a sea of ​​​​darkness that hides boiling waters that make crossing into it a gateway to the unknown.” This belief, despite its strangeness, was only a chapter in the search for knowledge. ; The lack of light that reaches the ocean causes it to appear in a “dark” image, and the density of clouds gives it “darkness” and “darkness,” according to the scholar Ibn Khaldun, who passed away 617 years ago, specifically in 1405.

Perhaps the “darkness, darkness, and darkness” of the scholar “Ibn Khaldun” paved the way for the Moroccan astronomer “Zuhair Ibn Khaldun”, director of the “Okayimden” observatory, located at an altitude of 2,750 meters, specifically above the peaks of the High Atlas Mountains, to create more “light” and “light” spaces. shining” and “brightening” through his endless attempts to observe the movement of stars and planets in the sky.

Bin Khaldoun holds many prestigious positions. He is a founding member of the Scientific Council of the African Planetary and Space Science Initiative, a member of the Preparatory Committee for the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, to be held in South Africa in Cape Town in 2024, and a scientific researcher at the Energy Physics Laboratory High School and Astrophysics at the Semalaliyah Sciences Faculty at Cadi Ayyad University; He was one of the founders of this laboratory in 1999, and ran it for 10 years before taking over the Oukaimeden Observatory.

Bin Khaldoun holds many prestigious positions

Oukaimeden Observatory

The Oukaimeden astronomical observatory, affiliated to Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, was opened in 2007. It is located in the Oukaimeden region, 50 meters south of the Moroccan city of Marrakesh. Astrophysics” at Cadi Ayyad University, “Jura Astronomical Society” in Switzerland and French astronomer “Claudine Rainer” concerned with the discovery of planets and small comets have signed a cooperation agreement to establish the “Sky Survey .. Oukaimeden Morocco” through what is known as the “Moss Telescope” in August In 2011, the Mohs Telescope has a large field of view, is primarily dedicated to the search for new minor planets, and is remotely controlled and operated by three partners in Marrakech, France and Switzerland.

Bin Khaldoun said in statements to Al-Alam: The establishment of the Oukaimeden Observatory is a project that was born within the National Center for Scientific and Technical Research in Rabat. We established this institution as the first research laboratory in modern astrophysics, and three of my comrades were with me. To astronomical itself in view of the excellent observational characteristics of Moroccan sites located at the heights of the High Atlas Mountains, I proposed developing the topic of studies of possible observatory sites through the analysis of climatic astronomical data for Moroccan sites, and the results of these studies proved to be excellent, and aroused the interest of the international community of astronomers.

great achievements

Bin Khaldoun adds: The Oukaimeden Observatory has become one of the most important astronomical observation sites in the African continent and the Middle East and North Africa, and many of its tasks have been developed, such as studying and discovering exoplanets, studying their atmosphere, studying variable stars and their developments, observing asteroids and comets, and observing meteors and determining their paths. , the study of space climate, and the observation of satellites and space debris.

The Oukaimeden astronomical observatory, affiliated to Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech, was opened in 2007

The Oukaimeden observatory has also achieved many achievements in the areas of developing the subject of rehabilitating astronomical sites, inventing new tools dedicated to monitoring atmospheric disturbances to deduce their impact on observation in astronomy, discovering 5 new comets and six near-Earth asteroids, discovering a binary near-Earth asteroid, and participating with NASA in discovering the exoplanet system TRAPPIST-1, participating in the characterization of the Borisov comet, which is the second object discovered outside our solar system so far, and participating in observing the gamma ray aurora.

moon rise

“Bin Khaldun” recounts his journey with astrophysics, saying: My interest in the sciences of the sky began at a very early age. Like other young people, I was influenced by the secrets of the universe, the beginnings of space exploration, and the first human steps on the moon. At the time, I was ten years old. I was lucky because I grew up in A family passionate about knowledge and science, reading was a very natural thing for me and my brothers, our parents’ generation is also the generation of Morocco’s independence, and investing in training children was a struggle to establish development in the country, my father was a teacher, and this helped me to easily access literature and literary works from different The species, including those works that are concerned with scientific knowledge and the history of science, were Ibn al-Haytham, Omar Khayyam, al-Biruni, Ibn al-Banna al-Marqashi, Fatima al-Fihri, and other inspiring figures in our Arab-Islamic culture.

He continues: My interest in astrophysics increased during my university studies, and there was a role – also – for the element of chance. The development of astrophysics in Morocco is more exciting and attractive to me, so I did my second PhD in astrophysics after getting my first PhD in energetics.

transfer of experience

Perhaps the spirit of the family was a strong motive for “Ben Khaldun” in his habit of transferring knowledge to others; He co-founded the Association of Amateur Astronomers in Marrakech, about which he says: Interest in scientific research in astrophysics was almost non-existent in Morocco at the beginning of our adventure in this field, even among those responsible for scientific policy at the time. On the other hand, there was enthusiasm from the public to know on astronomy, so we decided to invest in scientific promotion to attract young people to this specialty, and create a “critical mass” to influence professional astronomy. Amateurs, some very active.

official level

Bin Khaldoun believes that scientific policy makers in the Arab world must realize the value of investing in science and culture in all its forms.

He says: “The countries that have realized this have made tremendous progress with significant social and economic implications. The problem is that while developed countries do not stop supporting the James Webb Space Telescope projects and the massive particle accelerators projects, we continue to divide scientific research and talk about research in our region.” “Applied” as opposed to basic or theoretical research, and we prefer the so-called “applied” research, which reflects part of the policy error that we follow. For our part, we established in 2016 the Arab Astronomical Society, which I currently chair, and whose main interest is in: Facilitating access to research in astronomy for young researchers from Arab countries. That is why we are working to double the organization of the so-called seasonal schools in astrophysics, and during 6 years we organized seven courses, two of them in Morocco and three in Egypt, and one course in Lebanon and Qatar.

sustainable growth

Ben Khaldoun says in an article published in the journal Nature Astronomy: “Moroccan scientific production in astronomy and astrophysics has shown a sustainable growth since the late eighties of the last century, and this growth is largely due to the dynamics of a group of Moroccan researchers from On the one hand, and the establishment of an astronomical observatory in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains, on the other hand, in reference to the Oukaimeden astronomical observatory.

He continues: The development of astronomy in Morocco has witnessed a significant increase in recent years compared to other fields of scientific research in Morocco and compared to other countries in the region in general, and the Oukaimeden Observatory sheds light on astrophysics activities in Morocco thanks to the “Swiss-French-Moroccan” survey of Morocco. With the Mohs Telescope, which became one of the most prolific telescopes in the world in terms of discovering small objects in the solar system, the success of this observatory dates back to 1986 when many Moroccan astronomers decided to form a research group at the National Center for Scientific Research in Rabat, whose role is focused on Fundamental to the development of an astronomical observatory for Morocco as a tool for the development of astronomy and science research in general.

Bin Khaldoun’s words ended, as if he was reiterating with the late novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature: I learned that everyone wants to live at the top of the mountain, unaware that the secret of happiness lies in climbing it.

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