With deep sadness we are are sorry to report the death of our colleague María Concepción (Itxiar) Anguita Fontecha, outreach astronomer in the Unit of Communication and Scientific Culture (UC3) and Coordinator of the external web of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC).
Itxiar, with a degree in Mathematical Sciences from the Complutense University of Madrid, specializing in Astonomy and Geodesy, and with a great interest in science education and outreach, travelled from her native Madrid in 1997, accompanied by her beloved daughter Tristana, to join the Cabinet of the Director of the IAC, a department which in those days was in charge of communication and outreach.
Among her numerous contributions to the activity of the IAC, we would like to pick out the following:
Open and inclusive education
In 2003 she started “Cosmoeduca”, an online IAC educational project which she has organized until now. The main objective of “Cosmoeduca” is to simplify the teaching of astronomy, producing relevant educational material useful for the different subjects in the Secondary Education curriculum (at the ESO and Bachillerato levels) and keeping teachers informed via the “iac-edu” list, about new resources and educational activities in the IAC, as well as about astornomical events and how to observe them. This website, open to all the Spanish speaking educational community, has over 400,000 visitors per year, which makes it one of the most successful in the IAC. In addition, it was being updated to extend its content to pre-school and primary school levels.
In recent years, motivated by studies which show that gender stereotypes start during childhood and guide the interests of girls and boys from a very early age, she set out to bring astronomy and scientific thinking to schoolchildren between 3 and12 years old, and was developing new workshops and didactic material for those age groups. One example is the activity “Astropatio”, which she designed and developed in the frameworkof the Minifestivals of Science and Innovation in the Canaries in 2022.
She was very dedicated to inclusión, and was training herself for the development of didactic astronomical activities adapted for autistic children and those with other Special Educational Needs, and had already carried out a pilot activityh in this field.
As coordinator of the external web, she participated in the design and maintenance of several institutional websites of the IAC, working closely with the web developer and with the various departments of the IAC, and those responsible for the contents. Among the most outstanding aspects of her work were the coordination of accessibility and utility, the architecture of the information, functional requirements, the platform of editing the contents, producing user manuals and so on.
Under her leadershiup the IAC portal achieved very high marks (above 9 out of 10) in the official evaluations by the Observatorio de Accesibilidad Web (Observatory of Web Accessibility) Spanish Government), in the top positions of the external portals of Public Organism.
Wholeheartedly committed to equality among everyone, she participated actively in numerous initiatives to promote and obtain this objective. She was continuously present at the meetings of the Every Other Thursday group of the IAC, whose aim is to share experiences and activities designed to improve equality and coexistence in our work centre, and more generally in the field of Science and Technology.
She was a member of the Commission for Equality of the IAC during the period 2019-2021, and participated in producing the III Plan for Equality of the IAC, and acting as a key figure in the Tenerife Island Equality Network Violeta.
She also participated in the organization and the development of the first “Día Internacional de las Mujeres y las Niñas en la Ciencia” (“International Day of Women and Girls in Science”) which seeks to create feminine referencesin Science and Technology via videoconferences with educational centres.
Astronomy and Art
Itxiar was highly sensitive artistically, especially to painting, and she brought together her two passions, the Universe and Art, on many occasions. She shared her professional work at the IAC with the study of a range of questions related to art and culture, completing various courses in the Faculty of Fine Art of the University of La Laguna. She was a lover of photography, trained herself in Astrophotography, amd used its techniques to give talks about astronomical phenomena. She collaborated with illustrators and graphic artists to produce teaching resources, she popularized poems inspired by astronomical themes, and she wrote her own material, such as the story of Carlota, a little girl who travels in space.I txiar illustrated this with her own drawings, and showed it at many schools, in a format of slides plus audio, and also as a play with puppets.
Unique and brilliant
Above all, Itxiar was an excellent colleague, with a high sensitivity and sense of justise, an indefatigable fighter for her ideals of collaboration, equality, defence of diversity, social compromiso, and sustainabilty, among others.
We deeply regret her loss, and we will ALWAYS miss her.
Our most sincere condolence to all her loved ones.
To bid her farewell, we share a poem dedicated to her on the day of her funeral by a great poet, and friend, Pepa Alemán:
Because it can be erased, corrected, changed, the only consolation is in the word
Also in silence, its other face.
Give it a name, it appears
Give it name, it can also disappear.
And here we are, Concepción, Itxiar, Popón, naming you with all of your letters, with all of your names, because we all know that you will never depart.
You will not depart because you have never arrived.
Brilliant friend, you are one of that select group of human beings who are ahead of their times, and who bring a message from the future, information, data, which cannot be understood in the present.
Some day your message, your savage innocence, your amazing and sparkling mind will be engraved in golden letters.
A star in the heaven of our hearts.
Happy return journey, sister.
We are deeply moved by the death of our colleague Rebeca Galera Rosillo, predoctoral researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) and the Universidad de La Laguna (ULL). Born in La Puebla de Don Fadrique, in Granada, Rebeca was the only female astronomer in the history of her municipality. After completing her studies at the University of Granada, where she excelled as a student, she joined the IAC in 2014 through a pre-doctoral contract for research staff in training under the supervision of the researchers Antonio Mampaso and Romano Corradi. She was currently working as an