In November 2017, the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union named a an asteroid after her — 45687 pranverahyseni.
On a clear night over the Davis Mountains in early May, a woman far from her home in Kosovo climbed a ladder at the annual Texas Star Party to peer into a large telescope. She was hunting for an asteroid named after her.
Pranvera Hyseni, 23, is an amateur astronomer who says that igniting a love of the stars in her struggling nation will forge a path forward.
“People keep saying they are considering me, like, an important person, and I appreciate that,” she said. “But after all, I’m somebody who lives in a village, and I haven’t done a discovery. All I do is try to inspire kids with astronomy.”
Her native Kosovo is a landlocked Balkan nation still recovering from a war two decades ago, when it broke away from Serbia in the 1990s. The violent conflict prompted NATO forces, including U.S. troops, to intercede to protect the Albanian population from Serbian oppression and onslaught.
In 2015, Hyseni and some friends founded the Astronomy Outreach of Kosovo, and the circle of global support grew. Last year, she gave the keynote address at the Texas Star Party, a week-long gathering of amateur astronomers in far west Texas. It was her first speech in English.
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