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On 16th to 18th January, Malaysian astrophysicists and astronomy educators based both locally and around the world came together for the Global Malaysian Astronomers Convention 2023 (GMAC2023), to discuss and explore ways to contribute to the growth of astronomy research and STEM education in Malaysia.


The community of Malaysian scientists working in astronomy and astrophysics has grown significantly. Many are members of large international collaborations and based in prestigious international organizations, such as NASA, Princeton University, Oxford University, the Max Planck Institutes in Germany, the University of Tokyo, as well as in the top local Universities, including Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, among others.

“Through this program, we celebrate the many achievements and scientific discoveries of Malaysian astronomers here in Malaysia and around the globe. More importantly, together with Malaysians of all ethnic, religious, and socio-economic backgrounds, we want to celebrate our diversity through a shared passion for space and astronomy,” explains Dr. Nurul Shazana, Associate Professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and one of the GMAC2023 organizing committee members.

GMAC2023 was held from 16th to 18th January 2023 at Pusat Sains Negara, Kuala Lumpur. In addition to the main academic conference, there were public events and roadshows in Johor, Penang, Sabah, and Kuala Lumpur, through which the professional astronomers gave public talks, and interacted with young aspiring astronomers, students and the general public.

One main outcome of the convention, was the resolution to form a task force responsible for drafting a roadmap for the development of astronomy research and education in Malaysia for the next 5 to 10 years. Other expected outcomes include the curation of a publicly available Malaysian astronomers directory, the development of online learning materials, and the formation of a national astronomical society or center, that would be the focal point of astronomical research and education in the country. 

GMAC2023 was sponsored by YTL Foundation, FrogAsia, and Autocity Penang. “As a part of this exciting partnership, we will assemble an expert panel of Malaysian astronomers to develop astronomy learning modules for FrogAsia’s online learning platform, targeted at primary and secondary school students, which will be available freely. We hope that astronomy can inspire the younger generation to have a curious mind and explore the wonderful world of science.” says Yuan-Sen Ting, a Malaysian Associate Professor based at the Australian National University, and chair of the GMAC2023 scientific organizing committee. 

Additionally, the GMAC2023 organizers teamed up with Science Cafe KL to host four virtual talks and Q&A sessions with Malaysian astronomers working in the US, Europe, and Australia. The topics discussed ranged from using artificial intelligence to search for extraterrestrial intelligence to studying distant galaxies using telescopes in the French Alps. These online sessions have now amassed close to 13,000 views in total.

“GMAC2023 was a much-awaited major astronomy event and a dream come true for many astronomy enthusiasts in Malaysia! We planned GMAC for 2020 but had to postpone it due to the pandemic.” says Rubina Rubeca Visuvanathan, who is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Astrophysics at Cardiff University, Wales, and one of the coordinators of the GMAC2023 Publicity team.

“Not many people are aware that there are actually about 25 lecturers across 11 universities in Malaysia who are either active in astrophysics research or astronomy education. This was my first chance to meet all of them in one place, and I can't wait to see how we can collaborate to further develop astronomy in Malaysia," says Dr. John Soo, an astronomy lecturer from Universiti Sains Malaysia, who is also the coordinator for the GMAC2023 Penang roadshow.

Last Update: Jan 02, 2024