Overview of the project

Project title: The fourth East African Astronomy Workshop
Project leader: Dr. Pheneas Nkundabakura

The series of workshops in Astronomy in East Africa began in 2009 during the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). The first workshop was held in November 2009 in Nairobi, Kenya and was supported largely by the International Astronomical Union/ Teaching for Astronomy Development (IAU/TAD), Developing Astronomy Globally (DAG), SAAO, University of Nairobi and the International Science Programmes (ISP- Upsalla University). Most of the attendants were largely drawn from outside the region, including USA and South Africa. The second workshop was held in February 2011 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while the third workshop was held in November 2012 in Kampala, Uganda. The resource persons in both workshops were drawn from USA, IAU/OAD, SAAO, SA SKA, African VLBI network project and from the South African DST.

The fourth workshop, being organized by the East African Astronomical Society (EAAS) is scheduled in May 2014 at Kigali-Rwanda. The purpose of these workshops is to strengthen capacity building in Astronomy and Astrophysics and Space Science in general and also provide a forum for astronomers from the region to train young and upcoming scientists. It provides an opportunity to exchange ideas, cross-border cosupervision and sharing of resources. There already exists a Bachelor’s degree programme in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a number of other universities in the region are in the process of curriculum development of the same. The Ethiopian Space Science Society is building two 1-m class optical telescopes at Entoto Observatory near Addis Ababa. There is also a project to transform old telecom dishes into radioastronomy antennas to make a strong VLBI African network.

None of the individual countries have enough manpower or the resources to run programmes in astronomy on their own and this calls for networking and sharing of expertise to teach and supervise students across East Africa.