Project update: JEDI astronomy workshop

JEDI astronomy workshop from June 30th to July 6th at the University of Namibia

The Astronomy and Space Science Workshop sponsored by the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development was hosted at the University of Namibia from June 30th to July 6th 2014. This workshop is part of the Joint Exchange Development Initiative (JEDI) that aims to enhance development and education through the direct transfer of skills and expertise.

Participants of JEDI Namibia pointing at the H.E.S.S.

Participants of JEDI Namibia visiting the High Energy Stereoscopic Survey instrument (H.E.S.S.)

Namibia hosts the world’s largest ground based gamma-ray telescope (H.E.S.S.) and is one of the future hosts of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). In the region, there is a lack of trained astronomers to teach students. The workshop provided an opportunity for the exchange of knowledge, skills and ideas between students and professionals and was aimed towards Namibian and South African students aspiring to become astronomers and space scientists.

The variety of topics discussed in the workshop ensured that students obtained a broad overview of research in astronomy and space science. Dr. Oozeer of SKA South Africa explains the setup of the workshop: “The programme is flexible and participant-oriented, driven by the students’ needs and requirements rather than by a set programme“.

Dr. Bassett explains physical concepts to participants of JEDI Namibia

Dr. Bruce Bassett (UCT, AIMS, SAAO) talks about harmonic oscillators with participants

The workshop had 23 participants from Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, USA, Germany and Mauritius. During the activities, University of Cape Town PhD candidate, OAD intern and workshop facilitator Rajin Ramphul said: “JEDI has been great so far because the students are showing a lot of enthusiasm to learn, give presentations and get out of their comfort zones”.

Namibia is currently in the running to host a large gamma-ray observatory, the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) that will study the nature of dark matter in the Universe.

The Namibian JEDI workshop was sponsored by the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development, the National Commission on Research, Science and Technology of Namibia (NCRST), Square Kilometre Array Africa and the University of Namibia.

For more information visit their website.

Participants and facilitators at the JEDI Namibia workshop 2014

UCT PhD candidate and JEDI workshop facilitator Eli Kasai explaining optical data reduction to Namibian students