Scifest Africa 2015

A team from the OAD comprising the director, Kevin Govender, Bonaventure Okere from the Nigerian Centre for Basic Space Sciences, Wanda Diaz from the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and OAD visiting fellow, Ramasamy Venugopal travelled to Grahamstown to participate in Scifest Africa 2015.

Scifest Africa is South Africa’s National Science Festival, held every year at the end of summer in Grahamstown. It is the biggest platform for scientists and engineers to engage with the public, share their work and inspire the youth to pursue careers in science and technology.

Kevin Govender led a panel discussion on “NASA: Setting science alight”. The panel comprised Dr Claudia Alexander, Lead Project Scientist: Rosetta Mission, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Dr John Grunsfeld, Associate Administrator: Science Mission Directorate, NASA(via Google Hangout); Dr John Mather, Senior Project Scientist: James Webb Space Telescope, NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, USA (via Google Hangout); and Dr Ellen Stofan, Chief Scientist, NASA. The event recording can be viewed on youtube.

Dr Wanda L. Diaz Merced delivered a lecture titled the “Music from the stars“, describing the sonification of data in Astronomy.


The OAD team had a space in the exhibit hall which was used to interact with visitors. Our dobsonian telescope attracted attention to our space as did our demonstrations using the LCOGT’s remote telescopes over the internet.

For more details on the event, visit the website.