The relatively dark sky over Africa and the continent’s rich human resources are a boon for the growing development initiatives driven by astronomy.
Astronomy for development
In the age of huge telescopes involving many wealthy nations, we mustn’t overlook regional telescopes that help countries address their specific development needs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Maidanak Astronomical Observatory is involved in collaborative observing programs requiring uninterrupted monitoring of celestial objects by providing high-resolution photometric observations.
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.
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.
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.