Project title: Strengthening Astronomy Research at the University level in Rwanda
Project leader: Dr. Pheneas Nkundabakura
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During the year 2009, IAU donated 5 computers to help students and Lecturers to learn and use astronomy softwares. The computers run completely on Linux. With these computers, the Kigali Institute of Education (Faculty of Science, Physics Department) students have now the possibility to choose astronomy/space science for their undergraduate final year research projects. In order to make these computers more useful, a permanent astronomy research team is needed. In fact, as we have already entered in the era where Astronomy research can be done locally even in the developing countries using online data mining (some of these data are semi or completely reduced). In order to make use of these data, there is a need to have a research team trained on various software for data reduction to ensure quality in data handling and interpretation.
In addition, following the growing initiatives to build telescopes in East Africa (e.g. the Entoto Optical observatory project in Ethiopia) and the extension of the SKA radio dishes up to Kenya, research teams need to be introduced at universities to make (long term) use of the data output of these infrastructures. In this regard, there will be opportunities to get data for our own research projects. In this project (phase I), we intend to build an astrophysics research team in Rwanda. Phase II of this project will consist in extending it to the whole region and to build a pan-East-African research team which will be able to reduce multi-wavelength photometric and spectroscopic data (radio, optical, X-ray, gamma-rays).
In the current phase I), we intend to have a two-week workshop in which we will invite visiting astronomers to train the members of the research team (Lecturers doing research in Astrophysics and related sciences in Rwanda) on the proper use of software to handle the data. Equal emphasis in phase I will also be put in the consolidation of a theoretical background on the understanding and analysis of the spectroscopic and photometric properties of stars and galaxies. These lectures will be allocated 2-3 hours every morning, the first week being on “stars and galaxies” and the second week being on extragalactic objects. The rest of the days will be allocate to introduce the available data and missions, study software such as IRAF and HEASOFT and other plotting data software like TOPCAT. Participation of astronomers of the region will be encouraged.