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Astronomy in Thailand and Laos

23 Dec 2009, 23:00 UTC
Astronomy in Thailand and Laos
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For some years now I have had a love affair with Thailand. My connection with the country began in 1980 when a young Thai student came to New Zealand to study for an MSc in astronomy. He was Boonrucksar Soonthornthum, currently the director of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand.

Boonrucksar spent many years as an astronomer at Chiang Mai University (CMU) in northern Thailand after his studies in New Zealand. He also worked at the Sirindhorn Observatory, which belongs to CMU and is on Doi Suthep, the mountain on the outskirts of the city.

In 2004 Miss Siramas Komonjinda, a Thai astronomer at CMU, completed her MSc degree under the supervision of Boonrucksar, and she too came to New Zealand and worked with me for four years on spectroscopic binary stars for her PhD thesis. So, I have had two Thai graduate students, a generation apart, the second being my student’s student.

I first visited Thailand in 1986 after a long trip through China and other east Asian countries. My wife and I took the overnight train from Bangkok up to Chiang Mai where we saw Boonrucksar again on a week-long stay.

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