In December 2019, the ASB received a donation from the Southport Astronomical Society in the U.K. The generous donation was made to the society by SAS members John and Marjorie Barrow, and the ASB owes many thanks to them all. The donation consisted of a 5” Celestron SLT127 Maksutov Cassegrain astronomical telescope, including all the needed manuals, software and accessories. The logistics, shipping, duty and all else were arranged and paid for by Mr. Michael Dow, chairman of the SAS, Professor Mike Bode and Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hester of the ASB and Mr. Ian White. Thanks to all of them as well.
The telescope is awaiting the completion of a concrete viewing plinth on a specially selected spot at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve outside of Gaborone, where it can be used by the ASB for future activities. An agreement has been signed between the ASB and Mokolodi allowing for the telescope to remain safely stored at Mokolodi when not in use. As soon as the viewing site is ready, a brief training course will be organized to teach any interested members on the proper assembly, alignment and use of the instrument. All members will be notified in advance once a date has been decided.
After the telescope was received in Gaborone, society member Mr. Bill Tomlinson set up the instrument in Kanye for testing and captured some images of the moon as examples of what the scope is capable of. The lunar images were later posted on Facebook by Mr. Gihan Ilangakoon, ASB secretary, and were acknowledged by Celestron – the manufacturer of both the telescope and the camera that were used – requesting permission for their use on their company website. Two of the images can be seen below.
partnership with the ministry of education
In late January, Society chairman Ms. Boitumelo Sekhute-Batungamile and others met with deputy permanent secretary Mr. Simon Coles at his office at the Ministry of Basic Education to discuss a possible partnership between the two organizations. This partnership would include event hosting by the society for secondary level school children, at dark locations with telescopes, giving the children the chance to experience practical astronomical observation first-hand.
It is a stated goal of the ASB to help promote the study of STEM subjects at secondary schools in Botswana. Both the Society and the Ministry felt that astronomy could play a role in helping to stimulate the youth to become more interested in science related subjects at school, paving the way for greater employment of Batswana in STEM related careers.
In early March the Society submitted a proposal to the Ministry outlining how such a partnership might work. Unfortunately, before a meeting could be organized, the COVID-19 pandemic overtook the possibility of anything happening too soon. As schools are still trying to overcome the setback caused by the resulting lock-down, further discussions have been postponed until such time as the Ministry deems fit.
partnership with ministry of tourism and the bto
Shortly after the discussions with Education, our chairman and others met with officials from the BTO to discuss the Society’s participation in the upcoming Makgadikgadi Epic event scheduled for July. Again, a proposal was submitted to the Ministry outlining the suggested modes and level of cooperation. Unfortunately the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, both proposals are being followed up and the Society is awaiting word from both Ministries on when we can get back on track as originally discussed.
iau and open astronomy schools
Members of the Society recently attended a meeting at UB to discuss possible cooperation involving the Society regarding an International Astronomical Union project called open-astronomy-schools.org. The meeting was organized by Dr. Tshiamo Motshegwa of the computer science and robotics department and was well attended by UB participants including the dean of the school of education, Professor Lily Mafela.
Through Dr. Motshegwa’s efforts, Botswana was the recipient of ten telescopes as part of the open-astronomy-school.org project aimed at promoting STEM at the secondary level. A teacher’s training workshop(s) will be organized soon where the Society’s participation is anticipated. This project promises to be both rewarding and beneficial to all involved. We will update this section as things unfold.
2020 Nobel Prize in Physics
Andrea Ghez is only the 4th woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physics. She shares it with Roger Penrose, and Reinhard Genzel in the Physics Award for 2020 for the discovery of the black-hole in the center of our galaxy
Link to Andrea Ghez 2013 Article : Star Tracker
On the 24th of October , 16 Members of the society gathered at the Mokolodi Nature Reserve for drinks, dinner and an evening of Stargazing. There were 5 telescopes and some binoculars on hand. Planetary images were taken with the society’s Celestron 127SLT