Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Africa is bidding to host the world’s largest Telescope


It is said that Science and Technology [S&T] drives development, and the right investment and commitment in this area is what Africa needs to catch up with the rest of the world, at least if we can't overtake the current leaders. S&T will help solve the myriad challenges that confront the continent, in terms of health, education, industrialization and so on.

That said , it's such a good news to discover that South Africa together with 8 other African countries including Ghana, has taken on the challenge to bid as hosts of the world's largest telescope (see here for some locations with large telescopes). This initiative is called the Square Kilometer Array [SKA] Project, which will be announced in the middle of 2012.

With support from the African Union, South Africa is in partnership with Ghana, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mozambique and Zambia.
So how will these partnering countries benefit?
If South Africa wins the bid, it would consolidate Africa as a major hub for astronomy. The partnering countries would have sub-stations for research as well as address fundamental questions concerning stars and planets, and astrophysics.

How is Ghana preparing?
Ghana has gone ahead to dedicate its large Satellite Earth Station at Kuntunse (Greater Accra region) to the project. In terms of education, there are plans for the Universities to run graduate and post-graduate programs in astronomy and astrophysics. The opportunity will also enhance study in system/radio engineering and space technology.

For those also interested, the newly-formed African Astronomical Society (AfAS) has opened up membership for free.

If you are in Accra, The Ghana Science Project is also a place for astronomy enthusiasts and students.
Directions to the Planetarium:
The GHANA PLANETARIUM is on OSU AVENUE EXTENSION. That is the road behind Police HQ, and also behind Christ the King.

From Christ the King church/school, take the first turn on your right after passing Christ the King on your right. The turn is signposted for Quality Distance Learning (QDL). Take another right where you see another sign for QDL. The road bends round to the left and the Planetarium is on your left, in the same compound as Quality Distance Learning and Office Automation Systems.

Or, from Danquah circle, head towards Kwame Nkrumah Circle on the Ring Road until you get to Police HQ. Take the slip road that is next to Police HQ, and take the right turn that is halfway up the slip road (ie you don’t go all the way up the slip road to the mini roundabout). This road is Osu Avenue Extension. Pass Cinderella’s Night Club, then you will find the Planetarium in the same compound as Quality Distance Learning and Office Automation Systems. There is a large sign on the wall.
Just look for the giraffes!

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