Ethiopian Telescopes Look to be Africa’s Space Center

Spiral Galaxy observed by both of the Entoto Observatory’s two telescopes. Image linked from ESSS site–click to embiggen.

Last week I wrote a post about Ethiopian jamming of Arabsat’s television broadcast signals.  But now, according to this Inter Press Service (IPS) article, certain Ethiopian citizens have made a different step in space–the step towards becoming one of the hubs of space research in Africa.

That goal, promoted and sponsored by the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS), is closer to becoming real.  The ESSS completed construction of the Entoto Observatory, located on Mt. Entoto, in Ethiopa.  The observatory has two 1 meter telescopes (example shown below), and sometime during the end of May 2014, the telescopes have already seen “first light,” or have already seen and taken an initial picture of the stars.  The picture at the beginning of this post is an example of what the telescopes can see.  Obviously, the image also means cameras are mounted on the telescopes.

The kind of telescope reportedly used in Entoto Observatory. Image from the East African Astronomical Society page. If you click on it, it gets bigger.

Those telescopes are just the beginning.  The ESSS is already conducting a survey for a potentially bigger telescope to be built into the Entoto Observatory.  Such plans are very optimistic for such a developing country.

According to the IPS article, there’s a lot of optimism within the ESSS regarding the establishment of the Entoto Observatory.  There’s hope that the observatory can help to get Ethiopian citizens more interested in space sciences and operations.  There’s also hope that science, generally, will be boosted by the observatory.

The ESSS has plans to provide training and research facilities at the observatory.  And they hope the Ethiopian universities and international folks will come and use them.  The observatory is supposed to be fairly close to the Ethiopian capitol city of Addis Ababa, so it might be very convenient for some students in Africa to go visit.

Ethiopian observatory. Image linked from Diretube.com.

The Entoto Observatory is a more positive step into space research than broadcast jamming.  Ethiopia is putting its toe into a pool containing few other African space nations:  Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa, and Egypt.  It might even get some satellites into space.  But this seems to be a good start–as long as Ethiopia’s citizens get the “space bug” too!  It might be worth a visit, if you happen to be in the area.

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