Contact   Store   Donate      Sign Up

On the evening of 21st July 2009 amateur astronomers from two different countries India and Bangladesh had a star party at the border. Both these countries India and Bangladesh sharing over 4000 km of closed high security, heavily fenced, strictly guarded border.

Border Security Force (BSF) in Indian side and Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) in the Bangladesh side of the border are in a constant state of struggle and fights in form of ‘Border Disputes.' This area is also prone to cross border smuggling, act of terrorism, trade zone for transfer of counterfeit currencies, drugs etc. The air has a constant smell of smoke and gun powder.

As per Indo-Bangla border treaty, no one can have anything of war potential within 150 yard of the border ‘zero line.' The demarcation between the two countries is visible through numbered pillars. The Indian side has multi layered, heavily built, flood lit border fence around 150 yard off from the zero line. No one is allowed to cross the fence between sunrise and sunset. Even during the day time, one needs to cross multilayer permission procedure to cross the border.

To host a star party would have been a highly improbable event.

Early July, Mr Debasis Sarkar the President of the Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal (SWAN), affiliated with Confederation of Indian Amateur Astronomers, India requested for an appointment with Border Security Force of the North Bangla Frontier. He had a long meeting with the Inspector General Mr. Nand Kishore, and also the Director General of BSF, highlighting the need on use of astronomy to harbor peace and harmony. Mr Sarker apprised both of them the role of Astronomers without Borders and their activities world wide. He also told them about the Star Peace Project of IYA209. The simple term that "Boundaries vanish when we look skywards" helped convenience both of them and the Border Security Force formally gave them the permission to hold the event with a few conditions

MR Sarker of the Bangladesh Astronomical Society had a similar discussion with the Bangladesh Rifles, who, when informed that BSF, India had formally agreed to hold such an event on the border, found no reason to deny.

It was mutually decided by both sides that the event would be held at Border pillar number 433. Located at Latitude 26°29'10.11"N and Longitude 88°22'16.99"E. This place is about 20 km from Panchagarh, Bangladesh. The strength of team members for either side was restricted to 15 members each.

On the 21st July, 5:20PM, a team of 15 SWAN members under the leader ship of Mr Debasis Sarker headed for the "No mans land". No camera, materialistic gifts or weapons of any short were allowed as per the international protocol. The sole exception was the flag pole to carry the National Flag. Members of the Fourth Estate - like the Times of India, Reuters, Telegraph formed a part of the delegation.

A similar delegation headed by Mr FR Sarker in company of 15 members of the BAS also arrived at the Ground Zero. The security on either side of the border treated this event as an official Flag meeting as per UN Protocol and then allowed the astronomers and citizens from either side to greet each other. The routine protocol was slightly lowered as a mutual understanding between either security forces. Both the Teams carried with them their National Flags and Banners of their Organizations which were hoisted. They greeted each other but could not control their emotions. They started hugging each other ignoring the political demarcation line between the two countries. BSF or BDR had no strength to stop the emotional avalanche.

The first speech was delivered by Debasis Sarkar, the General Secretary of Sky Watcher's Association of North Bengal. "Sun is one, we are looking at the Sun around the world to observe Solar Eclipse, we are all same, we do not believe in border between India and Bangladesh. " He concluded his talk by saying, "Can any border keep love, greetings, faith, between two friends separated into two halves?"

Mr F. R. Sarker, the General Secretary, Bangladesh Astronomical Society continued in the same vein. "When we look at the Earth from the Space, we see Earth as one entity without any border. We human beings are the same species all over the Earth, we are one, and we do not believe any border on planet Earth"

Both of them went on to highlight the objective of AWB and the object of the event being held at the border. They also highlighted the role of astronomy in peace. Either side then invited representatives of BSF and BDR to also participate in the event. Both security forces admitted that this was for the first time that civilians from both countries had met at the border for peaceful means.

To commemorate the event both sides had decided to exchange T-Shirts in the Olympic style. The BAS had brought specially printed ones. While SWAN had brought specially hand woven silken scarf called ‘Khada' a symbol of honour in foothills culture. This is also a Traditional Tibetan custom on honor. Unfortunately no exchanges of gifts were allowed. After a brief photo session, followed by a press conference was held at the venue.

As the time for sunset drew closer, the amateurs were asked by the security forces to leave the area as no movement was officially permitted after sunset.

After arrival into the mainland of each country, either amateur group decided to give the gifts, which they had brought for their counter parts, to the Security forces. In addition to this gift, the SWAN also gave them AWB Logo, a Picture of Mt. Kanchendjungha.

This event appeared in various newspapers and TV the next day.

Coordinators-Indian side: Debasis Sarkar from Sky Watchers association of North Bengal, India Phone +919474092609

Bangladesh Side: F R Sarkar from Bangladesh Astronomical Society, Bangladesh Phone Number +8801711521706


AWB Photo Gallery

Link to Story on the BAS Site


Link to news story in various websites

About AWB

Astronomers Without Borders is a global astronomy community. Astronomy enthusiasts, educators, and others worldwide come together in programs based on our common interest in astronomy.

Read More

Get Involved

Join Astronomers Without Borders worldwide astronomy community. Get the latest news and program updates, and take part. Join as an individual or affiliate group, or donate to become a sponsor or supporter.

Read More

Latest News

Aug 26

GAM 2015 Wrap-Up Report

GAM 2015 was a great success! With 28 programs that ran through out the month, 18 posts from around the world at our GAM Blog, and 70,000 viewers took part in the Virtual Telescope online parties. Our social media was... Read More...

Aug 25

Ambassadors Report from Tanzania

Telescope Viewing Good news has arrived from Tanzania! The Ambassadors sent a report on progress both in the schools and at the observatory site. Nine schools were visited recently, with introductions to astronomy for new schools, and new lessons for... Read More...

Aug 11

Notes from Tanzania - Report by Elineema Nassary

I and Ambassadors are doing fine, as I wrote to you, Sunday we had meeting. In our meeting, we have discussed what ambassadors are going to do in schools, we have already discussed and agreed together what we are going... Read More...

Current Projects & Events

Global Astronomy Month 2015

Global Astronomy Month (GAM), organized each April by Astronomers Without Borders, is the world's largest global celebration of astronomy. GAM 2015 will bring new ideas and new opportunities, again bringing enthusiasts together worldwide to celebrate Astronomers Without Borders' motto One People, One Sky . See below for GAM programs and GAM-related news (coming soon). Some important dates are on the  Program Schedule now, with n ew programs being added all the time.
Learn More

Geminis 2010

Poster credit: Azhy Hasan ( Download print version ) Earth encounters the Geminid Meteor Shower each December. For 2010, this shower will begin December 7th and end around December 17th. To celebrate this event, AWB is spearheading a new project called Meteors Without Borders (MwB), scheduled for the peak of the shower on December 13th and 14th. Most meteor showers originate from the dust left behind by a comet. However, this one is birthed from an asteroid called 3200 Phaethon—a near-Earth (or Earth-crossing) asteroid that lives in the intermediate main belt. 3200 Phaethon is also called an Apollo asteroid (Palladian...
Learn More

Name Your Crater on Mars In "Astronomers Without Borders"

Now you can not only name a crater on Mars on Uwingu's new map but you can have "Astronomers Without Borders" as part of its Martian address! The first Province to be given a name on this new map of Mars has been named in honor of Astronomers Without Borders, and when you name a crater there you not only support the Uwingu Fund for astronomy research, education, and public outreach, but 10% goes directly to AWB's global programs. If you haven't named a Mars crater yet then this is the time - and the place - to do it....
Learn More

Social Media Updates