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Africa and Astronomy. Charles H. McGruder III Western Kentucky University Chair of the International Committee of the National Society of Black Physicists. Outline. Background Astronomers and Telescopes in Africa NASSP – National Astrophysics and Space Science Program African Telescope

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Africa and astronomy

Africa and Astronomy

Charles H. McGruder III

Western Kentucky University

Chair of the International Committee of the National Society of Black Physicists


Outline
Outline

  • Background

  • Astronomers and Telescopes in Africa

  • NASSP – National Astrophysics and Space Science Program

  • African Telescope

  • African Astronomical Society (AfAS)

  • South Africa: SAAO, Sutherland and SALT

  • Africa and SKA


African population
African Population

  • Second most-populous continent after Asia.

  • Rapid Population Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Current: 800 million

  • 2050: 1.7 billion

  • End of Century: 3 billion

  • Fasting Growing area in Population in 21st Century


  • African statistics
    African Statistics

    • Religion (2050)

    • As many Muslims as in Asia

    • more than ½ of the world’s Christians

    • Second-largest continent

    • 3 x USA


    Astronomers
    Astronomers

    • South Africa: 60

    • Nigeria: 20-25

    • Rest of Africa: 20

    • Total: 100


    Telescopes
    Telescopes

    • 16 research grade optical telescopes

    • South Africa: 11, Namibia: 3: Egypt: 1, Burkina Faso: 1

    • Two Radio Telescopes: Nigeria and South Africa


    How does one increase the number of african astronomers
    How does one increase the number of African astronomers?

    • South African answer

    • Create a central well-funded pipeline to the PhD.

    • National Astrophysics and Space Science Program (NASSP)


    Nassp
    NASSP

    • Purpose: to “Create an African network of astronomers bonded by the common experience of schooling and interlinked both professionally & personally”.


    Nassp1
    NASSP

    • Housed at the University of Cape Town (UCT)

    • UCT ,146 top university in world, #1 in Africa

    • Panafrican: 43% of students non-South African

    • Professors come from 12 SA institutions

    • 2003-2009: 94 honors, 60% Master’s/PhD


    Bottleneck
    Bottleneck

    • Not enough PhD supervisors


    Examples
    Examples

    • NASSP: 60% go on to Master’s/PhD

    • Ethiopia: 22 Master’s in Astrophysics no supervisors in observational astronomy

    • Kenya: 20 students in first year astronomy


    Easing the bottleneck
    Easing the Bottleneck

    • Non-African supervisors

    • No brain drain

    • Can work?

    • Workshop in January 2011 at AAU.


    Easing the bottleneck1
    Easing the Bottleneck

    • How can we attract supervisors?

    • Providing a first rate African Telescope

    • Working with Swedes for money


    African telescope
    African Telescope

    • Train the next generation of African astronomers

    • Contribution to modern astronomy.

    • Robotic telescope of 2-3 meters in diameter, photometric and spectroscopic


    African telescope1
    African Telescope

    • Sensitive to the near infrared

    • We need to be high and dry

    • Africa has mountains ranges with high mountains


    High mountains of africa
    High Mountains of Africa

    • Kilimanjaro (5,895 m), Tanzania

    • Kenya (5,199 m), Kenya

    • Stanley (5,119 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Speke (4,890 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Baker (4,844 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Emin (4,798 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Gessi (4,715 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Luigi di Savoia (4,627 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Luigi di Savoia (4,627 m), Congo-Uganda

    • Mount Meru (4,566 m), Tanzania

    • Ras Dejen (4,533 m), Ethiopia

    • Mount Karisimbi (4,507 m), Rwanda-Congo


    African telescope2
    African Telescope

    Ethiopia

    Namibia


    Ethiopian statistics
    Ethiopian Statistics

    • Population: 75,000,000

    • Capital: Addis Ababa, population 2.7 million

    • Religion:

      • 50% Muslim,

      • 50% Christian

    • Landmass: Somewhat larger than Alaska, Texas and California combined


    Education in ethiopia
    Education in Ethiopia

    • Language: Amharic

    • 1- 6 grades: Amharic

    • English: 1st or kindergarden (cities)

    • 7th & university: English

    • Literacy: 40%

    • Primary school: 45%


    Universities in ethiopia
    Universities in Ethiopia

    • Current Total: 22

    • New Total: 32 in 2 years

    • Golden Opportunity: Critical Need for PhDs to man universities


    Astronomers in ethiopia
    Astronomers in Ethiopia

    • One PhD astrophysicist, Legesse Wetro Kebede.

    • In USA for 9 years

    • Research Area: Pulsars (Theory)

    • Produced 22 Masters in astrophysics in 15 years

    • Current: 4 PhD students and 3 Masters students


    Direction of ethiopian astronomy
    Direction of Ethiopian Astronomy

    • Observational Astronomy

    • Started site observations in November 2009

    • David Buckley from SAAO set up DIMM

    • Need DIMMs for Ethiopia. Five potential sites


    Why african telescope in ethiopia
    Why African Telescope in Ethiopia

    • Presumably high photometric quality

    • Strong backing of Addis Ababa University

    • Strong Ethiopian government support

    • Long tradition of Sweden supporting Ethiopia


    Ethiopian government support
    Ethiopian Government Support

    • AtoTefera, Minister of Capacity Building

    • Under him: Ministry of Education, which funds Ethiopian universities

    • Is an amateur astronomer

    • With Kebede founded Ethiopian Space Society


    Ethiopia as an astronomical site
    Ethiopia as an astronomical site

    • Ethiopian highlands cover about 2/3 of Ethiopia, surrounded by desert.

    • Ras Dashen is highest peak at 4,620 m or 15,158 feet (13N,38E).

    • Proposed site near Lalibela (12N, 39E). Altitude: 3,600 m


    Namibian statistics
    Namibian Statistics

    • Population: 2.1 million

    • Namibia has the second-lowest population density, after Mongolia

    • 2.5/square kilometer

    • Area=Texas +Louisiana

    • ½ population earns less than $1.25/day


    Gamsberg data
    Gamsberg Data

    • Altitude 2347 m

    • Area 2.3 sq km

    • Seeing 1”

    • 220 cloudless nights

    • Longitude: 16.23 East

    • Latitude: 23.34 South

    • 120 km southwest of Windhoek




    African astronomical society afas
    African Astronomical Society (AfAS)

    • Needed to steer the build-up of astronomy in Africa.

    • Required because funding is coming through African Union (AU). So Panafrican organization needed.


    Afas vision statement
    AfAS Vision Statement

    • To grow the astronomical profession in Africa to a highly recognized international level.


    Afas vision statement1
    AfAS Vision Statement

    • to organize and network the community of African research astronomers,

    • to advocate for more resources for astronomy research,

    • to grow the number of African astronomers doing research at Africa-based telescopes, and

    • to better bridge the African astronomical community to the global astronomical research community.



    Southern african astronomical observatory saao
    Southern African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)

    • #1 research facility in Africa.

    • Located since 1820 in Cape Town

    • Budget $4.5 M

    • 105 staff, 22 PhDs, 36 engineers and technical personnel


    Sutherland
    Sutherland

    • Altitude: 1800 m

    • Seeing: 0.9”

    • Very dark site

    • 75% of nights usable

    • Roughly 50% of the nights are photometric


    Telescopes at sutherland
    Telescopes at Sutherland

    • SALT

    • Five Robotic Telescopes

    • ACT, BISON, KELT-South, MONET, YSTAR

    • Five non-robotic telescopes

    • 1.9 m, 1.0 m, 0.75 m, 0.5 m, IRSF

    • International:

    • Germany, Japan, Korea, UK, USA



    Southern african large telescope salt
    Southern African Large Telescope (SALT)

    • Largest optical telescope in the southern hemisphere

    • Hexagonal mirror array of 11 meters

    • Low cost

      • $22 M: Construction Costs

      • $9 M: First generation instruments

      • $14M: First 10 years


    Salt timeline
    SALT Timeline

    • Construction phase completed in Nov. 2005

    • Commission phase: end in mid-2010

    • Commissioning science: 11 papers, several in preparation

    • Two major technical hurdles:

      • Image quality (diagnosed and about to be solved)

      • Spectrograph throughput (solved)


    What is ska
    What is SKA?

    • Largest Radio Telescope in World

    • 3,000 Dishes (each 12-15 m in diameter)

    • SKA-Square Kilometer Array

    • Total Area of all 3,000 dishes is a square kilometer

    • Physical Extent: over 3,000 km


    Africa and australia
    Africa and Australia

    • Africa and Australia vying

    • Major international investment, $2.3 billion in construction costs

    • 1/3 from USA, 1/3 from Europe and 1/3 from other countries in SKA consortium

    • The SKA will be one of the largest scientific research facilities in the entire world.

    • Thus Africa or Australia will be number one in radio astronomy on planet earth for many decades.


    Where should ska go
    Where Should SKA Go?

    • It should be decided by the result of physical measurements.

    • Initial investigation no significant difference between Africa or Australia.

    • more rigorous evaluation underway

    • site decision in 2012


    Why should africa host ska
    Why Should Africa Host SKA?

    • Economic Growth

    • Scientific and Technological Growth



    How can ska lead to economic growth
    How can SKA lead to Economic Growth?

    • Broadband internet connectivity.

    • From Study conducted by World Bank - "for every 10% increase in bandwidth for connectivity for developing countries, you get a 1.3% growth in GDP of the host country“


    Economic growth
    Economic Growth?

    • The SKA will drive the development of internet connectivity in both rural and developed areas, thus leading to economic growth.

    • What is the connection between SKA and rural areas?

    • Rural areas to avoid radio interference


    How will ska lead to growth in science and technolgy
    How will SKA lead to Growth in Science and Technolgy?

    • Best scientists and engineers in the world to work in Africa.

    • opportunities for African scientists & engineers cutting edge instrumentation and the most renowned research institutions in the world


    Growth in science and technology
    Growth in Science and Technology

    • SKA opportunity for the development of very high level skills and expertise in Africa.

    • This will allow Africa (for the first time since ancient times) to be a significant contributor to the global knowledge economy.


    Dishes in south africa namibia botswana mauritius mozambique madagascar zambia ghana and kenya
    Dishes in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mauritius, Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya


    First signs of growth
    First Signs of Growth Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya

    • 80 graduate students

    • 11 postdoctoral fellows

    • 40 undergraduate students

    • 38 students from other African countries

    • Kenya is introducing astronomy at the University of Nairobi this October.


    First signs of growth ii
    First Signs of Growth II Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya

    • South Africa is building the Karoo Array Telescope (MeerKAT) consisting of 80 dishes which is a precursor instrument for the SKA.

    • Government from Mauritius is making funds available to assist in the installation and testing of a MeerKAT type telescope.


    What is ska all about for africa
    What is SKA all about for Africa? Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya

    • Encouraging Africa’s youth to go on a do great things in science and engineering - a youth, which will help propel the continent out of poverty.


    What is ska all about for scientists
    What is SKA all about for Scientists? Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya

    • How and when did the first stars and galaxies form in the universe?

    • What is the mysterious dark energy and dark matter that fill the universe?

    • How did the universe, and the galaxies in it, evolve?

    • Was Einstein always right about Gravity?

    • Where did the magnetic fields in the universe come from?

    • Is there life of any sort anywhere else in the universe, and is it intelligent (like us?)


    Another fundamental question of science
    Another Fundamental Question of Science Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya

    • Were did human beings originate?

    • Answered in 2009 in a paper in “Science” entitled: “The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans”.

    • “This analysis indicates that modern human migration originated in southwestern Africa, at 12.5°E and 17.5°S, near the coastal border of Namibia and Angola”.


    Four quarters by t s elliot
    Four Quarters by T.S. Elliot Mozambique, Madagascar, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya

    • "Little Gidding" (the last of his Four Quartets ).

    • “We shall not cease from explorationAnd the end of all our exploringWill be to arrive where we startedAnd know the place for the first time”.


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