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Kathmandu, June 2018

After three years in India, I'd given probably 100 astronomy talks around the country, and met so many students. But one place I'd never been was Nepal. We were coming to the end of our three years in Bombay, and time was running out. I had a memory of meeting a Nepali grad student a year earlier at the Astronomy Winter School in Hyderabad, so I tracked him down (*). Soon I'd set up a trip: 48 hours in Nepal, with a talk at the US Embassy Library in Kathmandu (the Embassy has been super-supportive of my work, and does great outreach), a talk at Southwestern State College, an impromptu interview on the Kathmandu TV morning show, and then a talk at a large K-12 school.

Nepal is a small country, with nowhere near the resources of India. I loved getting to see Kathmandu and the amazing students there. I wish I could have had more time to see other parts of the country -- I'd given two remote talks earlier with a group in Pokhara, but there just wasn't time to go there on this trip. The Nepal Astronomical Society -- NASO -- does really good work promoting astronomy around the country. There is just one school that has an astronomy MSc program -- Tribuvan University. Many students end up going abroad, to India or elsewhere. Astronomy is not large, but there is a lot of interest in it. Kathmandu is a large dusty city (due mostly to the fact that the roads are not paved!), so there's not much observing from in town, but there are amazing dark skies beyond, which I hope to see in a future trip!

(*) Binod taught Computer Science at Meridian International School, while working on his MSc in space physics. Shortly after I visited Nepal, he started applying for PhD programs abroad. He is now a grad student studying stellar dynamics at UC Merced and recently gave his first talk at a US research meeting -- I am so happy for him!

NB: I visited Nepal in 2018, but it took four years to post these photos! So much has probably changed in the country since then, especially in terms of reconstruction from the 2015 earthquake.