Optical camera for a 14-inch telescope in Namibia

This project is centered on purchasing an optical camera for the use with a 14-inch telescope in Windhoek, Namibia. Namibia is home to the world’s largest gamma-ray experiment, the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) project. Also, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope will partly be constructed in Namibia and in other several African partner countries. Against this background, the country has been aspiring to engage in serious human capital development programs in astronomy to enable the locals to partake in these world leading scientific experiments. The Department of Physics of the University of Namibia (UNAM) has been spearheading this process. However, the science goals for both H.E.S.S. and the SKA are so advanced that it presents a challenge to train local students at undergraduate level to directly feed into these experiments without some sort of intermediated educational and observational astronomy program. For this purpose, we intent to use a close-by, privately owned observatory, known as the Cuno Hoffmeister Memorial Observatory (CHMO). The main instrument of CHMO is a 14-inch Schmitt-Cassegrain reflector telescope, with currently has no optical camera. Our intention is to acquire an optical camera for it and use it to perform photometric observations of various astronomical sources. The ultimate goal is to gear the Namibian community towards cutting-edge research in multi-wavelength astronomy involving optical, gamma-ray and radio wavelength regimes. This project will also serve as an introductory and intermediate program in which students are introduced to observational astronomy, data reduction and data analysis from which they can acquire the necessary skills to get involved in high level research with H.E.S.S. and the SKA. The owner of CHMO, Mrs. Sonja Itting-Enke, has for decades been committed to astronomy education for schools and the public and is eagerly looking forward to cooperate with UNAM in making use of this observatory.