Focus |

Astronomy for development

Astronomy has the power to bring about development where it is needed. Establishing groups of professional astronomers, technicians, engineers and other highly trained staff can provide ongoing economic and educational stimulus to a region. Moreover, the construction of new observing facilities injects much-needed money, employment and infrastructure. We are used to hearing about new astronomical discoveries from countries with comparatively large budgets for science and technology; the aim of this Collection is to highlight efforts in the rest of the world to introduce and develop astronomy and space science in areas where it is not so widely practised and budgets are not so healthy.


  • Nature Astronomy | Editorial

    The relatively dark sky over Africa and the continent’s rich human resources are a boon for the growing development initiatives driven by astronomy.

  • Nature Astronomy | Editorial

    In the age of huge telescopes involving many wealthy nations, we mustn’t overlook regional telescopes that help countries address their specific development needs.


  • Nature Astronomy | Comment

    The development of astronomy and space science in Africa has grown significantly over the past few years. These advancements make the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals more achievable, and open up the possibility of new beneficial collaborations.

    • Mirjana Pović
    • , Michael Backes
    • , Paul Baki
    • , David Baratoux
    • , Solomon Belay Tessema
    • , Zouhair Benkhaldoun
    • , Michael Bode
    • , Nana A. Browne Klutse
    • , Phil Charles
    • , Kevin Govender
    • , Ernst van Groningen
    • , Edward Jurua
    • , Alemiye Mamo
    • , Sivuyile Manxoyi
    • , Vanessa McBride
    • , Jamal Mimouni
    • , Takalani Nemaungani
    • , Pheneas Nkundabakura
    • , Bonaventure Okere
    • , Somaya Saad
    • , Prospery C. Simpemba
    • , Tefera Walwa
    •  &  Abdissa Yilma
  • Nature Astronomy | Comment

    Since 2013, the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development has been funding and nurturing astronomy-for-development projects across the globe. In Africa, these projects aim to use astronomy to stimulate educational, technological and socioeconomic development.

    • Vanessa McBride
    • , Ramasamy Venugopal
    • , Munira Hoosain
    • , Tawanda Chingozha
    •  &  Kevin Govender
  • Nature Astronomy | Comment

    The Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA) project, a joint venture between the UK, South Africa and African partner nations, aims to provide development, education, training and careers advice to Africans through radio astronomy and related technical disciplines.

    • Melvin G. Hoare
  • Nature Astronomy | Comment

    Moroccan scientific production in astronomy and astrophysics has shown sustained growth since the late 1980s. This growth is largely due to the dynamism of an increasingly entrepreneurial community and to the creation of an astronomical observatory in the Moroccan Atlas Mountains.

    • Zouhair Benkhaldoun
  • Nature Astronomy | Comment

    Investments in national astronomical facilities and human resources through the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand have led to the rapid growth of astronomy in Thailand. Ongoing activities in key research areas, education and outreach will lead to further sustainable development.

    • Boonrucksar Soonthornthum
  • Nature Astronomy | Comment

    The Maidanak Astronomical Observatory is involved in collaborative observing programs requiring uninterrupted monitoring of celestial objects by providing high-resolution photometric observations.

    • Shuhrat Ehgamberdiev

Mission Control

  • Nature Astronomy | Mission Control

    A powerful new radio telescope will improve our understanding of galaxy formation and evolution, and other key questions in astrophysics, says Fernando Camilo, on behalf of the MeerKAT team.

    • Fernando Camilo
  • Nature Astronomy | Mission Control

    The HESS array in Namibia waits for a split-second flash of blue light — Cherenkov radiation — that signals an atmospheric shower of charged particles caused by cosmic rays, explains Director Mathieu de Naurois.

    • Mathieu de Naurois
  • Nature Astronomy | Mission Control

    Observational astronomy in Iran has witnessed a rise over the past two decades that has led to investment in its own astronomical identity, the Iranian National Observatory, and a flagship 3.4-m optical telescope.

    • Habib G. Khosroshahi