The national observatory, initiated in 2015, now enters the stage of development. On Monday (09/07) was held the inauguration of the National Observatory and Dark Sky National Park on Mount Timau, Central Amfoang and Northwest Amfoang, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). The event was also to name the national observatory as "Timau National Observatory".
Timau National Observatory was officially named by the Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, represented by the Expert Staff of Relevance and Productivity, Dr. Agus Puji Prasetyono. At the same event, The Chairman of LAPAN, Prof. Dr. Thomas Djamaluddin also officially inaugurated the construction of The Headquarters of Timau National Observatory and The Center for Science. The office is located in Tilong, Kupang, NTT. It functions as a facility for the operation of Timau National Observatory as well as the space education center.
The event began with a traditional ceremony attended by at least 1000 Timau communities. The ceremony led by the “Tetua Adat” (a traditional elder), Yakobus Taemnanu was solemn. The guest led by The Chairman of LAPAN paraded to the ceremony in unison with the Amfoang local dance and singing. In one part of the ceremony, it was a procession of handing “sirih pinang” (handing betel nut) as a symbol of appreciation of the community of NTT. This series ended with cattle slaughtering procession. The whole series became a symbol that the people of NTT, especially Central Amfoang and Northwest Amfoang fully support the efforts of LAPAN to build Timau National Observatory.
In his speech, The Chairman of LAPAN explained, Timau National Observatory is the largest observatory in Indonesia, and also the largest in Southeast Asia. This national observatory is special as it exists in the southern sky region. In addition to Indonesia, the observatories like such exist only in South America, South Africa, and Australia.
Why was Amfoang chosen? This is due to the weather reason. Amfoang is the region that has most ratios of the darkest nights. It is important for the observation of stars and other sky objects. "Amfoang is still dark, far from the light pollution of the city. It will be beneficial as it will not disrupt the view while conducting sky observations," added Thomas.
“Therefore, let's keep Amfoang's night remain dark. It does not mean electricity cannot come to Amfoang, but the use of which should be minimized. If you need lighting outside your homes, it should be directed down and should build a house that is lightproof," he continued.
To support it, LAPAN involves the Ministry of Public Works and People's Housing and Tourism Office of Kupang Regency to improve the infrastructure and the road facilities for the access to the location. In addition, the State Electricity Company (PLN) is involved in setting up electricity. LAPAN also seeks access for communications to be able to access this region. In addition to communication of Amfoang community, the communication infrastructure will be used for data access which is then processed in LAPAN control offices in Tilong, Bandung, and several colleges with whom LAPAN cooperate.
Thomas hoped that Timau National Observatory has a real influence on the people's intelligence in eastern Indonesia, especially NTT. Nationally, LAPAN supports the development of Indonesian science and technology in the eastern region to be more advanced and independent. It will build a more advanced and more independent nation.
The Expert Staff of Relevance and Productivity in his speech conveyed the message from Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Education that there should make various efforts that can provide benefits. This development can be utilized not only by universities but also elementary, junior, and senior high schools students. "With this national observatory, the dynamics of science will flourish. From the economic point of view, the facility can improve the tourism in Amfoang.
The Regent of Kupang, Ayub Titu Eki welcomed LAPAN's efforts and the support of the Minister of Research, Technology, and Higher Technology. With this support, he urged the Amfoang people to keep the area of Mount Timau clean and maintained its sustainability even though there will be many tourist arrivals and researchers from abroad.
"Development of this national observatory became the starting point of Amfoang independence. This potential is great for generating an Amfoang economy that is still relatively underdeveloped," he said. He will be serious to meet the demands of the Amfoang region management. One of such is the effort to present an Amfoang local culinary tour. So that it can improve the economy of Amfoang residents, without reducing Amfoang’s aesthetics of purity and natural beauty.
Timau National Observatory is built by LAPAN in cooperation with Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB), Nusa Cendana University (Undana), and Kupang District Government. The national observatory will equip an optical telescope with a diameter of 3.8 meters.
The event ended with Star Party in the evening. The activity was to give an idea to the public about the beauty of space that can be enjoyed from the location.