Sarawak’s first astronomical centre in Miri – place for moon sighting, astronomy research

Abang Johari (first row, fourth right) with (from third left) Assistant Minister of Islamic Affairs and Kuching North City Commission (DBKU) Datuk Abdul Rahman Junaidi, Transport Minister cum Senadin assemblyman Datuk Lee Kim Shin, State Mufti Datuk Kipli Yassin and other dignitaries pose for a photograph in front of the newly-built Pusat Falak Miri today (Sept 24, 2021). Photo: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (UKAS)

By Nur Ashikin Louis

MIRI, Sept 24: The establishment of Miri Astronomical Centre (‘Pusat Falak Miri’), the first ever Islamic astronomical centre in Sarawak, will enable the State to intensify studies and research on the field of astronomy.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the centre will serve as a place to observe or sight the ‘anak bulan’ (crescent moon) nearing the Ramadan month.

He took note that Islamic religious authorities in particular would conduct annual moon sighting across the country to determine when the following Islamic calendar month will begin and subsequently determine the dates of big celebrations like the first day of Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Miri Astronomical Centre (front view)

“However, sighting of the moon is part of science which describes the lunar cycle, the Sun, planets and the stars. We also study the orbits of the moon and the planets and what is their significance in human lives.

“At present, we already have space tourism and this illustrates that humans need to do more research on what exists in the sky and on earth including space development.

“It (astronomy) is also related to information technology (IT) because digital knowledge refers to signal which is sent to the space based on algorithms. This spectrum has become an important commodity in this world. Therefore, we need to intensify studies in this field.

“At the same time, as we battle the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations (UN) is now discussing climate change in New York today where they’re talking about flood, catastrophe, etc, which has correlation with the tides.

“I believe we can actually foresee the coming of the flood if you could interpret the orbits of the moon and the stars,” he said when speaking at the launching of Miri Astronomical Centre here today.

Miri Astronomical Centre (side view)

Abang Johari further encouraged students regardless of various religious backgrounds to make good use of the centre as a knowledge platform to study astronomy and technology for science development, which will subsequently benefit the State’s economy in the future.

The construction of Miri Astronomical Centre was approved by the Sarawak government in 2015.

It was fully completed on July 13, 2021 and the presentation ceremony of the site from State Public Works Department (JKR) was held on Aug 13, 2021.

Among the facilities available at Miri Astronomical Centre are observation room, dressing room, meeting room, pantry, surau and mihrab room. – DayakDaily