Kenya Unit 1  

Professor Peter Wilkinson & Dr Althea Wilkinson, University of Manchester, UK

15-26 October 2018

Technical University of Kenya, Kenya

Twelve students attended the Unit 1 training in TUK Nairobi from 15 October to 26 October 2018. To suit their differing backgrounds the course struck a balance between the essentials of astrophysics and an introduction to radio astronomy concepts. The latter was backed up with practical demonstrations of the radio frequency "interference" environment in a busy city and how radio astronomers calibrate their receivers. A trip to the former Longonot satellite communications site in the Rift Valley was much appreciated by all. Climbing over the 32m antenna provided stunning views (Althea was able to tell how she had walked around the Longonot crater as a girl) and it was a reminder of how big even "medium sized" radio telescopes are. We hope that the transferring ownership of the site to the Kenya government can be sorted out soon. This year the class had a glimpse of astronomy in other wavelengths. Prof. Paul Baki briefed us on the developing plans for a Kenyan 1-m class telescope to go on a mountain site in the northern Turkana region. Some DARA Cohort 3 students were up in the Turkana area presenting astronomy to schools during the first week of our visit. The Kenya "Travelling Telescope" team (https://travellingtelescope.co.uk/) spent an afternoon with us. Their outreach work, mainly aimed at schools, and their plans for the future are inspiring. Several DARA students are already involved with the programme. With the Kenya Space Agency being approved and getting started with support from the Luigi Broglio Space Centre in Malindi we came away this year with the feeling that along with DARA, astronomy in Kenya was beginning its "take off roll"!

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