Overview: Astrolab 2022

Astrolab 2022

The project inspires students by providing an opportunity for them to do research on remotely accessed telescopes which they would otherwise not do because of lack of astronomy infrastructure at their African universities. There is often scarce funding for start-up training programs to build capacity to implement the practical component of the designed curricula. In that context, Astrolab is developed to leverage existing infrastructure to provide remote access so that students work on real astronomy data. We have established collaboration with the Las Cumbres Observatory that provides adequate education telescope time on their 40 cm network of optical telescopes.

Since 2016, Astrolab has been training between 25 to 40 students. 35 students were trained in Zambia in 2016, 20 students and 17 tutors were trained in 2018 at University of Zululand, 25 student in Zimbabwe and 30 students in South Africa were trained in 2019 and in 2020 refresher courses for tutors were conducted on one-to-one basis. The sustainability of Astrolab relies on being part of the BSc Curriculum. This is already the case in some universities (in Nigeria, Kenya, and Zambia), and being explored in others: Zululand university – SA; NUST – Zimbabwe; Dept Sc. & Innovation – South Africa (for Historically Disadvantaged Universities (HDUs)). Astrolab is already a final year undergraduate project in University of Nigeria at Nsukka, University of Meru in Kenya and Copperbelt University in Zambia. The 2022 session of AstroLab will take a novel hybrid approach where there will be online training for students and online refresher courses for tutors whereas there will be in person training for students at Copperbelt University in Zambia, University of Nigeria in Nigeria and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, covering all the three OAD regional offices in Africa. Save for the pandemic, one or two tutors will travel to conduct the sessions with the help of a local tutor.


Prospery Simpemba, pcs200800@gmail.com