With a passion for astronomy from a very young age, Dang Hoang San from the central city of Hue has created telescopes himself as well as established a club of people who love the branch of science.
The 10th grader from Quoc Hoc – Hue High School for the Gifted is now the chairman of the Hue Astronomy Club which gathers every weekend to share their love of the sky.
“I was frozen”
In 7th grade, San started studying how to make a microscope and achieved his first victory when he successfully created one which worked like microscopes at his school.
After the debut, San nurtured his passion for science and then used the Internet as his source of knowledge of physics and astronomy.
Since he wanted to share what he knew with people, San established the Hue Astronomy Club with 10 initial members at the beginning of 2013.
To save money for the club by not buying expensive telescopes, the young man decided to make them by himself and spent around half a year researching many kinds of telescopes from around the world, as well as home-made tools in Vietnam.
After mulling things over, San began making his own telescope with simple materials like wood, PVC and iron and finished a reflector after three months.
“The volcanic craters on the moon appeared clearly in front of my eyes, I was frozen at the time,” San recalled the first time using his self-made telescope. “I won against myself since I used to think about giving up before.”
San’s works have stunned many people, though many of them earlier doubted the student after seeing pictures of the moon he took through the lens of his reflecting telescope.
According to San, a telescope he created costs only VND 2.5 million (US$117) while a normal device with the same focal length and aperture that produces the same quality of image fetches more than VND8 million ($373).
According to Dr. Dinh Van Trung, an astronomer, telescopes with a large diameter that generate high quality images like San’s are quite rare in Vietnam.
“That’s special that a 10th grader knows how to open the door to astrophysics for himself as well as his friends,” Trung said. “That passion needs to be encouraged.”
Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Quynh Oanh, a physics teacher from San’s school, commented that San has always carefully asked her how to apply what is in the textbook to life.
San’s father, Dang Nguyen Son, said that his family is often woken up at midnight since San usually does his work at night.
“Seeing his passion, we try our best to create the best conditions for him to study and do the job he loves, as well as do helpful things for the community,” Son said.
The club is growing
After building his first successful telescope, San then shared his knowledge with the club members, and since then 12 telescopes, including refracting devices, reflectors and spectroscopes, have been created.
San’s club has almost 300 astronomy-loving members, mainly local students, after a few years of operation.
“We call San a torch passer since thanks to him, people now can see astronomy in their hand, not as an out-of-reach science,” Phan Van Hoa, a club member, expressed.
“San inspires us and his experiences making telescopes help us save a lot of time and money,” he added.
Not only do they share knowledge of astronomy, members of the club have also exchanged their knowledge of physics, as well as held other activities like a water rocket competition and quizzes, among others.
San also often shares what he has learned on his Facebook page, as well as answers questions related to the science branch.
Every time the group gathers for an astronomy event, it draws attention from local people.
“Our joy is seeing people stunned and clapping the first time they view the moon through our home-made telescopes,” San said.