Astronomy goes to school(s) in Uganda

March 09, 2023

The MPA Partner Group at Kyambogo University in Uganda led by Dr. Benard Nsamba carried out their astronomy outreach activities for the first time in selected secondary schools in the Eastern region of Uganda.

A total of about 350 students learned more about “emerging scientific 21st century careers in Africa”, as one core outreach aim is to promote young talents and support the nascent astronomy community. Every school is willing to allocate even more time than anticipated – up to a whole day – for the programme. The students are very curious and excited to participate in demonstrations about telescope assembly and using them for some simple observations.

An additional activity includes a magical demonstration of refractive index matching – not an actual astronomy task, but rather an activity involving concepts of reflection and refraction of light as students often face challenges to understand this physics concept. After sometimes lively discussions with the students to help them understand the concept, we also discuss examples of where the concept is applied in real life, such as why a gel is applied for an ultrasound scan.

The Celestron reflector and refractor telescopes have also been used by two undergraduate students during their final year physics projects. They compared the image distortions when observing visible night-sky objects (like the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) using these low-cost reflector and refractor telescopes as well as the previously used Galileoscopes.  

The experiences gained in the astronomy outreach programme, in particular the possibilities with simple outreach telescopes, will also be presented in a talk at the African Astronomical society meeting talking place from March 13th to 17th, 2023 – in addition to a more scientific talk about the “Influence of Gaia-based data on grid-search models”.

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