Sat. Oct 16th, 2021

Nicole Oliveira barely started walking, used to throw up her arm, and aim to touch for stars in the sky.  This eight-year-old enthusiastic young girl is living in Brazil and she has become the youngest astronomer through part of a NASA-affiliated program. Along with that, she is meeting with some world-renowned astronomers and cosmonauts, discussing her bright future in this field. Also, she is attending international seminars and debates groups.

For eight years, Nicole has decorated her room with posters of the solar system, asteroids, planetoids, stars, and the moon. She also owns various miniatures of the solar system, Star Wars figurines, and miniature rockets.
Nicolina, as her loved ones call this little astronomer, sometimes works on her computer researching stars, planets, and constellations.

Nicole Oliveira is part of NASA’s project Asteroid Hunters. The project’s aim is to introduce young talents to science marvels. They provide students opportunities to grow and study the universe in their ways. They get to make their discoveries in space. Asteroid Hunters is governed by International Astronomical Search Collaboration which is a citizen science initiative affiliated with NASA. The space center has collaborated with the Brazilian Ministry of science to instill young minds’ theories and practical knowledge about space.

Whereas while being interviewed, Nicole gushes that she already has discovered 18 Asteroids. The charming girl, filled with curiosity, says she wants to give these 18 Asteroids names after the members like her father and mother.

Usually, discoveries get patented and certified, which takes several years. Oliveira will become the youngest kid to formally discover an asteroid, thus breaking the record of the previous holder, 18-year-old Italian Luigi Sannino.
According to her astronomy teacher, Heliomarzio Rodrigues Moreira, Nicole is very talented and has an eye for details. She has a keen eye and instantly spots dots into the images that often resemble an asteroid. She helps her classmates to discover the planets during the astronomy class.

Oliveira studies in a private school in the city of Fortaleza in northeastern Brazil, and this is possible because of her scholarship given by her school. How did this eight-year-old become passionate about astronomy? Nicolino’s parents moved from Fortaleza, their hometown of Maceio, which is 620 miles away due to her scholarship. Her parents wanted her to study in a well-established school.

Nicole’s father works as a computer scientist that lets him keep a job along with telework. Her mother, Zelma Janaca, reminisces sweet memories from when she was just two years old. “When she was two, she would raise her arms to the sky and ask me, Mom, give me a star”. They were confused about her interests in astronomy but, when she asked for a telescope as her birthday present, they became confirmed it. Her mother, Zelma, tells us that she didn’t even know what a telescope means.

The little astronomer was so stubborn about getting a telescope that she was ready to swap all other presents she got on her birthday. However, this telescope was a little too costly for a family like theirs and seeing her age, parents couldn’t muster the courage. Finally, her friends pooled some money collectively to present with her a telescope.

Nicolina is further continuing her passion for astronomy thanks to the scholarship. In her YouTube channel, she talks with popular and famous astronomers like Brazilian astronomer Duilia de Mello, who was part of the discovery of a supernova named SN 1997D.

By Mandy Berg

Mandy is an editor and writer for Plainsmen Post. She's covered everything from the Stanley Cup Finals to the world of lightsaber combat in his young career.

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