View the Recording here…


This talk introduces the envisaged Astro
Park project at BIUST. This project includes
a National Optical Observatory that will
have a 1-meter optical telescope in a dome
that will be used for research and a
number of smaller optical telescopes that
will be used for outreach. It also includes a
50-seater planetarium. The planetarium
will be a sky theatre simulating the night
sky. It will also be used to host educational
and entertaining shows about Astronomy.

This talk will also focus on how the project
is set to produce benefits for education,
research, technology development and
tourism, which will contribute greatly to
economic diversification, innovation, and
the development of a knowledge-based
economy in Botswana.

Dr Kushatha Ntwaetsile Bio

I am Kushatha Ntwaetsile, a Computer Scientist turned Astronomer. I graduated with an MSc in Computer Science from BIUST in 2018. Before then, I had obtained my undergraduate Degree in Computer Systems Engineering from the University of Sunderland through the Botswana Accountancy College in 2013. Recently, I obtained a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Hertfordshire-UK.

I have a few years of experience working in academia. Whilst studying for my MSc at BIUST, I also had an opportunity to serve as a graduate teaching assistant at the Department of Academic Literacy for a little over two years. 

I also worked as a Lab Demonstrator at the University of Botswana Computer Science Department for one academic year, prior to the commencement of my PhD. 

While studying for my PhD in the UK, I worked as an Online Tutor for the University of London, where I supported their BSc Computer Science and MSc Data Science programmes for over 3 years.

Currently, I am working for the SKA/AVN Project in BIUST as a Software and Data Processing Engineer.

Zooming in on the Invisible Universe: The Story of Jodrell Bank Observatory

Professor Tim O’Brien, University of Manchester, UK

The Lovell and Mark 2 radio telescopes at the world-famous Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, UK

Tim will tell the story of Jodrell Bank’s pioneering role in the worldwide development of radio astronomy. A story which takes us from wartime radar to global networks of radio telescopes. These instruments revealed what was previously unseen and undreamt of, a universe full of exotic objects such as quasars and pulsars. He will conclude with an update on Jodrell’s current e-MERLIN telescope array and the forthcoming Square Kilometre Array.


I’m a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at The University of Manchester and an Associate Director of Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics.

I am active in research – working mainly on multiwavelength observations and modelling of nova explosions – and undergraduate/ postgraduate teaching.

I also carry out a wide range of public engagement activities including regular appearances in the media and in events at Jodrell Bank Centre for Engagement and elsewhere.  

One of my current major public engagement projects is the bluedot festival – a celebration of music, science, technology, and the arts – of which I was a co-founder and to which I contribute science content and curation. I am also active in celebrating the heritage of Jodrell Bank including the construction of a major new gallery (part of the First Light project). I was also a co-author with Teresa Anderson of the proposal leading to Jodrell Bank Observatory being designated a World Heritage Site in 2019.

Away from work, I enjoy (mostly) watching Manchester United and working in our garden in the Peak District, a beautiful part of the world.

See for more details about Tim and his career.

The Origin of the Universe


Abstract: “I will describe the most remarkable trip that we can imagine:

we will go to the edge of time and space. I will discuss what we think today

is the origin of space and time and everything you see in space, from planets

to galaxies, blackholes, etc.

My Bio: Dr. Piccirillo is Professor of Radio Astronomy Technology at the Jodrell

Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester (UK). His main

research concerns the design, construction and operation of state-of-the-art

telescopes to study the radiation emitted by the big bang. He is a horrible piano

player and an even worse tennis player, not to mention his historical weakness

in chess apertures…”


“Design of Reflector Antenna systems for radio Astronomy Applications”

Thursday, 27 April, 2023

6.30PM- 7.30 PM (CAT) 

Elucidating the Mysteries of the Universe through Gardening

Mike Bode is Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics and founding Director of the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University, and Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at BIUST. His research work focusses on understanding exploding stars and he is a past Vice President and Secretary of the Royal Astronomical Society. He has published over 250 refereed journal papers, including 14 Nature Letters, on his work, together with several books, and led the development of the World’s largest fully robotic telescope, the Liverpool Telescope, based in the Canary Islands. Internationally, he led the development of the first 20-year Roadmap for astronomy in Europe and currently chairs international oversight panels for research institutes in Spain and Thailand. In 2018 he was given an award by the Thai Crown Princess Sirindhorn for his “dedication and contributions to the development of astronomy in Thailand”. Mike has been a frequent visitor to Botswana and is proud to be vice-chair of the ASB. In particular, he is passionate about using astronomy as a hook to get more people, particularly school-age children, interested in science and technology in general
James Webb Space Telescope image of a cluster of galaxies showing the effects of ‘gravitational lensing’ distorting the images of yet more distant galaxies. Our garden at RHS Chelsea illustrated how such an effect could help us to map the presence of Dark Matter in the Universe.
Our ‘Galaxy Garden’ at the Royal Horticultural Society’s show at Tatton, complete with central supermassive black hole!

“Zillion Carats Diamonds of the Universe” – by Dr. Ceren Ulusoy

23 February 2023 – 6:15 PM (CAT)

Yes, you are not reading the title incorrectly, it sounds very far-fetched, right?

We know that diamonds only exist on ground, but some bright stars in the night sky that you see turn into diamonds with the same chemical composition as those known on Earth;

just like in the chorus of that popular song, ‘Shine Bright Like a Diamond in the Sky’!

So how?

This is such a simple but sophisticated explanation if stellar astrophysics is involved. 

The objects mentioned above are called white dwarf stars, but also the terms “diamond” and “crystalized spheres” came to use after observing a ZZ Ceti type of pulsating variable star with the Hubble space telescope and WET (Whole Earth Telescope) observing campaigns.

The target observations ultimately confirmed the 1960s theory and found that much of the total stellar mass had crystallized. Moreover, the white dwarfs may also be described as unique forensic laboratories that provide connections between the Milky Way in which we locate, and the history of the universe from beginning to end. Indeed, the structure and composition of white dwarf stars keep records of the final stages of stellar evolution.

This makes them crucial targets to investigate.



Abstract: For centuries science and art went hand-in-hand, but more recently they seem to have diverged into two distinct ‘cultures’. However, they still have much to gain from each other and in this talk Andy will describe some forays by an astronomer into the world of art to try to explore challenging concepts with unsuspecting audiences. From computer music to dance, theatre to sculpture, and exploring science from gravity and the nature of Dark Matter, to the physics of breakfast, we will see some ways in which art and science can work together, and also perhaps ask whether the two cultures are really as different as they might at first seem.


Biography: Andy Newsam is Professor of Astronomy Education and Engagement at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). After studying cosmology at Glasgow University, and working as an observational astronomer at the University of Southampton, he joined LJMU in 1998 to help set up the educational arm of the Liverpool Telescope, which later became the National Schools’ Observatory, one of the largest astronomy education projects in the world. As well as astronomical research and education he is a keen science communicator, giving talks to many thousands of schoolchildren, amateur astronomers and the general public throughout the UK and beyond, as well as working with artists of all kinds on new ways – from show gardens to street theatre – to bring the delights of astronomy to as many people as possible.

Topic: ASB Talk ‘Astronomy and Art’
Time: Jan 26, 2023 06:00 PM Harare, Pretoria
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 828 9985 6612

BIUST is pleased to announce the BIUST-MPG African Astronomy School to take place from 26 June to 7 July 2023 at the Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST).

BMAAS 2023 is a two-week residential Astronomy school for around 30 graduate and advanced undergraduate students who are starting on Astronomy research in Africa. The objective is to teach students specific aspects of Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Space Science, with a focus on topical research, future opportunities, and practical skills.

Attendance at the School is via successful application. The School is targeted primarily at Masters and starting PhD students, but promising advanced (Honours) Bachelor students are also very welcome to attend. To be eligible, students must be registered at an African university for a course in Astronomy, (Astro)Physics, or closely related field. Applications, including requests for travel support, can now be submitted via the School’s website:

We would be grateful if you could bring this School to the attention of suitable students, for example by forwarding this information.

We also attach a poster below.

Coryn Bailer-Jones, on behalf of the SOC and LOC

Coryn Bailer-Jones (MPIA, Germany) – SOC chair
James Chibueze (North West University, South Africa)
Roberto De Propris (BIUST, Botswana)
Brenda Namumba (Rhodes University, South Africa)
Benard Nsamba (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Germany)
Mirjana Povic (Space Science and Geospatial Institute, Ethiopia and Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, Spain)
Zara Randriamanakoto (SAAO, South Africa and University of Antananarivo, Madagascar)
Prospery Simpemba (Copper Belt University, Zambia)

Michael Bode (BIUST, Botswana)
Roberto De Propris (BIUST, Botswana) – LOC chair
Adams Duniya (BIUST, Botswana)
Rhodri Evans (BIUST, Botswana)
Greg Hillhouse (BIUST, Botswana)
Ceren Ulusoy (BIUST, Botswana)

ASB TALK by ROBERTO DE PROPRIS on the 24 November 2022

Date & Time: Nov 24, 2022
6:15 PM

Topic: ASB Talk
Time: Nov 24, 2022 06:15 PM CAT
Watch the Video here

 Annual General Meeting on 27 October 2022…




View Stuart Marongwe presentation below –

Passcode: RV7V9+F%
(Commencing 12th minute)

 Dr. Rhodri Evans – “Seeing the black hole at the centre of our Galaxy with the Africa Millimetre Telescope”

25th August 2022 – 6:30 PM (CAT) on Zoom.

Watch the recording here –

Using very long baseline interferometry, astronomers are able to link together telescopes in different parts of the world to obtain incredible angular resolution of millionths of an arc second.

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is such a network, and this collaboration has recently published the first-ever images of the supermassive blackholes at the centre of Messier 87 and our own Milky Way.

The Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT) will be the first millimetre-wave telescope on the African continent, and will be an important addition to the EHT network.

The AMT will improve the EHT’s resolution, thus enabling us to better understand these strange but important objects.

The AMT will be located in Namibia, and will see first-light in early 2024.

“Analogues for planetary Exploration – From Botswana to Mars…” – Fulvio Franchi from BIUST – 28 July 2022 at 6:30 PM (CAT) over zoom

View the educational program & the presentation 
Terrestrial analogues are places on Earth with peculiar chemo-physical characteristics that qualify them as ‘extreme environments’. These places are called planetary analogues because they bear similar characteristics with the harsh environments that we know exist (or existed) on other celestial bodies such as Mars or certain moons of Jupiter. Therefore, they can be used by scientists as stand-ins for the study of conditions outside our planet. They are useful laboratories where to test equipment and new hypotheses before launching a new mission, but they can also teach us more about the data we are receiving from existing probes.
Here we will look at some examples of planetary analogues in Africa (and beyond!), trying to understand what kind of science can be done in these sites and why it is so important to promote this kind of science in Africa.

Bill Tomlinson was born and raised in Kalamazoo, Michigan in the U.S.A. After receiving a telescope
for his 12th birthday, his childhood interest
in astronomy became more serious. William left his hometown of Kalamazoo to attend university at MIT in Cambridge Massachusetts, in the fall of 1975, to study mechanical engineering. 

Although Bill never pursued astronomy on an academic level, his interest
in telescopes and amateur astronomy continued to grow. 

Bill Tomlinson is the Director and resident astronomer for Diamonds in the Sky (Pty) Ltd., a 100%
citizen owned Botswana company formed in 2016, with his wife, Patricia Tomlinson, as the sole shareholder. It has been involved in hosting outdoor astronomy events at schools, parks, lodges, and other outdoor event venues for the purposes of entertainment, education, and the promotion of astronomy based tourism in Botswana. 

Bill is a member of the Astronomical Society of Botswana where he has been a contributing member for the past three years.


Bill Tomlinson’s presentation is a discussion about dark skies, telescopes and other
equipment used in amateur astronomy and astrotourism. The effort
required to actually start, develop, and grow an industry based on astronomy
as a vehicle for the expansion of the overall tourism sector in Botswana.

Topic: ASB Monthly talk
Time: Jun 30, 2022 06:30 PM Harare, Pretoria
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 814 3015 5317
Passcode: asb

Astronomy in Thailand: Experiences of a Batswana student


With the envisioned development and the construction of a new radio telescope in Botswana as part of the multi-national Square Kilometer Array (SKA) project, Botswana requires a significant increase in human capital in the field of science and engineering. On the quest of realizing Botswana’s involvement in the said project, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), which is the host institution of the SKA project in Botswana, has partnered with the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand (NARIT) to facilitate research in astronomy and engineering disciplines as well as training of some of the selected students and staff. In 2019, BIUST, sent two of their master’s students (Galefang Mapunda and Abraham) to Chiang Mai, to be placed as Research Assistants for a period of two years with NARIT. The students were to be trained in various astronomical activities and technologies including telescope installation, operations, design, and astronomical observations for both radio and optical telescopes. The first part of the training involved the operations and engineering aspects of the various astronomical instruments available at NARIT including the 2.4 m optical telescope at the Thai National Observatory (TNO) and the ongoing construction & installation of the 40 m Thai National Radio Telescope (TNRO). The second and last part involved astronomical communication and processing of both optical and radio sources & objects. In this talk, Galefang will share both professional and personal experience of living and working in Thailand.

Legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope

Presentation by Dr. Steve Barrett, Department of Physics,
University of Liverpool, UK.

31st March 2022 at 6:30 PM (CAT)

Recording of the Presentation


Explore the wonder of the sky and its fascinating phenomena with Stephen O’Meara, one of the world’s leading visual observers.
The talk will be given by eminent Astronomer Stephen O’Meara who lives in Maun, Botswana and recently published a book on the Night Skies of Botswana (details in his Bio here).
Throughout the ages, human beings have developed their own cosmology, or stories, to explain the night sky and its mysterious events.   Botswana’s Basarwa have their own stories, handed down through oral tradition.
Presentation on Thursday 24th February 2022 at 6:30 PM (CAT) 

Title: Astronomy in the Blink of an Eye: Searching for the Fastest Events in the Universe

Speaker: Dr Emily Petroff from University of Amsterdam/McGill University

Date:     THURSDAY, 9 December 2021

Time:     18:30 (CAT)


Meeting ID: 891 8939 5673

Passcode: 891007

Contact person: Dr Jacobus Diener

Abstract: Most things in the universe happen over millions or even billions of years but some things change on the timescales of human life and can be seen to change in a matter of months, days, or even seconds. These are some of the most extreme events in the universe, things like the collapse of a dying star, or a collision of two massive objects. Humans have been observing astronomical transients for centuries, from supernovae to gamma ray bursts and, most recently, gravitational waves. In 2007, we discovered a brand-new type of transient called fast radio bursts, bright radio pulses that last only a few milliseconds. Their origin is one of the newest unsolved mysteries of astronomy. I will tell the story of their discovery and some of the most exciting new breakthroughs.

Bio: Dr Emily Petroff is an astrophysicist jointly appointed as a Veni Fellow at the University of Amsterdam Anton Pannekoek Institute in the Netherlands and as a manager of the CHIME/FRB Collaboration based at McGill University in Canada. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota and obtained her PhD from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia in 2016. Previously she has worked in the Netherlands as a postdoctoral researcher first at ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Her research has made her a leader in the study of fast radio bursts, mysterious distant radio sources that we are just beginning to understand.

See above: photo of Dr Petroff

Kushatha Ntwaetsile is a former computer scientist turned astronomer. She is studying for a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire-UK, using Machine Learning to automatically classify new & unseen galaxies. She graduated with an MSc in Computer Science from Botswana International University of Science and Technology.
DATE: Thursday October 28, 2021

TIME: 6.30 PM- 7.30 PM, CAT

Join Zoom Meeting via link:


As astronomy became increasingly data driven over the twentieth century and we are entering theera of ‘big’ observational astronomy, automated morphological classifications using machinelearning were introduced. In these large surveys, simply curating the data volume becomes asignificant challenge and interesting scientific question in its own right. Machine learning isbecoming an important statistical tool for astronomers seeking to efficiently analyse and derivemeaning from massive data sets, with ‘unsupervised’ methods in particular showing promise invarious applications, particularly in automatic classification.In this work we contribute to the effort of seeking more efficient means of automatically classifying and mining large imaging data sets in the radio using ‘Haralick’ features, which provide a compact representation of image texture.


Title: “Astro-Ecology”: using Astrophysics research techniques to help tackle challenges facing the planet

By: Professor Steve Longmore, Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

ABSTRACT & BIO HERE Steve Longmore Talk Sept 23 2021 


He will describe how his group are using Astrophysics research techniques to help Ecologists protect the ecosystems, save critically endangered animal species, and stop peat forest fires that are a major contributor to climate change.

Building on technological and software innovations in Astronomy, their “Astro-Ecology” team have developed a drone plus thermal infrared imaging systems and an associated automated detection and identification pipeline that provides a cost-effective and efficient way to automatically detect animals and peat fires. He will describe the current status of the system and their efforts to enable local communities to run routine monitoring and management of animal populations and peat fires over large and inhospitable areas, and thereby tackle global biodiversity loss and climate change.

Astronomy and Astrotourism
for development: the Namibian

DATE: Thursday August 26, 2021

TIME:  6.30PM- 7.30 PM, Botswana Time

Watch the Presentation BELOW

Astronomy for development is making
great strides in Namibia. Forged by a
collaboration between the Universities of
Oxford and Namibia, together we are using
astronomy as a means for capacitybuilding and to benefit Namibia
socioeconomically. Namibia is already recognised as a world
leader in sustainable tourism; astronomy
offers great potential to expand and
diversify the market with minimal
environmental impact. With access to
some of the darkest and driest skies on the
planet – a completely free resource –
astrotourism is a relatively easy way for
tour guides to complement their earnings.
It also presents an opportunity to preserve
the indigenous stories about the stars,
which are already being lost. With H.E.S.S. already in place and the Africa
Millimetre Telescope on the horizon,
astronomy education provides further
opportunities for sustainable
socioeconomic growth. Led by Radboud
University, we are developing a Social
Impact Plan in the hope to inspire future
generations of Namibian scientists and

Dr Hannah Dalgleish is a researcher and
communicator, working at the intersection between
astronomy and society. An astrophysicist by training,
she now spends her time focused on capacitybuilding projects, and on furthering our
understanding of how astronomy affects the lives of
people around the world.
Hannah is currently working between the University
of Oxford (UK) and the University of Namibia. She is
a postdoctoral researcher in astronomy for
development, and is involved in numerous projects
related to dark sky tourism and light pollution,
astronomy education, science communication, and

Andrew Newsam, Professor of Astronomy Education and Engagement at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) and Head of the UK National Schools' Observatory (NSO) and its Astronomy education accessible to all student in UK & Globally- on 29th April 2021 at 6:30 pm (CAT).

ASB Presentations are held the last Thursday of every month, over Zoom from 6:30 pm until 7:30 pm (unless otherwise stated).  These Presentations are open to all society members and their guests and the public at no cost.

Following these Presentations, the ASB committee meets monthly.

Geraldine & Harold Hester’s Talk 25 March 2021 – an excellent, informative event;  see the Abstract & Bio below…and view and listen to the whole Zoom presentation on this link

Dr. Saran Poshyachinda – the national astronomical research institute of thailand (narit) –  25 february 2021 at 3:30 pm

View the Abstract & Biography of Dr. Suran Poshyachinda’s presentation here. You can view the complete PRESENTATION here.


anatomy of black holes live Presentation – 26 November 2020

Dr Moletlanyi Tshipha – Abstract & Biography 


MARS- Mokolodi Astronomers Reaching for the Stars – 24 july 2020

On the 24th of July, ASB committee members gathered at Mokolodi Nature Reserve to officially open the new astronomical viewing platform (named MARS – Mokolodi Astronomers Reaching for the Stars), a joint project funded by ASB and Mokolodi, and to unveil a commemorative plaque in honour of the Barrow family of Scotland and the Southport Astronomical Society of the U.K. for their donation of a Celestron 127 SLT Maksutov Cassegrain telescope to the Society. The plaque was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hester, and Professor Mike Bode, both members of the ASB

Meteorite Landing in Botswana -24 july 2020

On the 24th of July, at 18:30, at the request of the Astronomical Society of Botswana, Dr. Fulvio Franchi from BUIST, gave a presentation via ZOOM about the tracking of a meteorite that landed in Botswana in 2018, and how they eventually recovered several pieces of it in the CKGR after many expeditions looking for it. The fragments are still being tested. 


On the 27th of August, from 18:00 until 20:00, Dr. Jacobus Diener from BIUST will be conducted a live presentation via ZOOM, at the request of the Astronomical Society of Botswana, about neutron stars. 


Another webinar invitation from ASB, this time the presentation will be held  by Prof Motsoptse Modisi , an Associate Professor at the University of Botswana(UB) .Yet another opportunity for everyone to join in, despite your geographical location.
Date: Thursday 24th September 2020

Time: 6pm – 7.30pm



Professor Phil Diamond will describe the plans to expand the telescopes across Australia and southern Africa, including Botswana, to dramatically increase the capabilities of the SKA Observatory.
Date: Thursday 8 October 2020

Time: 5.00pm – 6.30pm

Link to PDF: Abstract & Programme




Legacy of the Hubble Space Telescope – presentation by Dr. Steve Barrett