Namibian Astronomers To Embark On A 5-Year Astronomy Outreach For Students and Teachers

Namibia Astronomy outreach
Photo Credit: Patrick Hendry via Unsplash

In a bid to develop the next generation of astronomers in the country and cultivate the interest of Namibian students and teachers in astronomy, a group of astronomers from Radboud University will tour every Namibian school in the next five years, on a mobile planetarium.

The outreach, which commences this month, presents the students with an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about astronomy and science, according to Lisho Mundia, director of research and innovation at Namibia’s Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation.
Expectations are that some of these students will join the proposed African Millimeter Telescope(AMT) project in the country as engineers and scientists in the nearest future.
Meanwhile, a team of professors from Namibian universities are studying how the country could profit from the AMT, which, according to the director, could bring about immense benefits to infrastructure, such as better transportation that could support existing Astro-tourism activity in the country.
Speaking on the support for the project, the Vice-chairman of the Namibia Scientific Society, Michael Backes, said that potential sponsors of the project, including corporations and charities, fancy the idea of supporting advanced, self-sustaining development in Africa, but are yet to make a substantial and material contribution to the project. In relations to this, he said Namibian scientists are trying to gather support for the project.
As a boost to its activities, an international panel consisting of scientists working on millimetre-wave telescopes, and experts from Namibia’s engineering society, certified the project after it passed its preliminary design review phase and got heads up to proceed with its activities.
However, the continuity of the project depends extensively on finances.
“We will need some serious financial infusion to make great leaps forward, and also try to get some site-testing equipment to the mountaintop during the first quarter of this year,” he added with optimism. The coordinators of the project hope to convince donors and sponsors on the immense benefits of investing in astronomy projects.

Astronomy In Namibia.

According to an article in Experience by Stav Dimitropoulos,  Namibia’s venture into astronomical research gained momentum in the early 2000s when several institutions started operating the  High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) telescopes, centred in a research structure situated atop the mile-high plateau of Khomas Hochland, about 60 miles west of the country’s capital. 

In recent times, the Southern African country has been on track to advance its position in astronomical research with several of such activities. She is on course on a massive telescope project, which through the collaborative effort by the University of Namibia and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, will see scientists bring a renovated telescope to Namibia. The refurbished telescope will serve as a link in a global network of radio telescopes, known as the Event Horizon Telescope. Noteworthily, Namibia is a part of the nine African countries working toward developing the Square Kilometer Array, the world’s supposed largest radio telescope, to be co-located in South Africa and Australia.

At its completion, the African Millimetre-wave Telescope project will not only be the only millimetre-wave observatory on the African continent, but also one of such few facilities in the Southern Hemisphere.



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