Saturday, June 07, 2014

Ethiopia Shoots for the Stars and Galaxies as it Aims to Become Space Science Hub

(Jun 6 2014, ADDIS ABABA, (IPS))--High up in the eucalyptus-strewn Entoto Mountains, which overlook the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, work is nearly complete on the country’s first observatory. Studying the stars and the galaxies will be vital for this Horn of Africa nation’s development and will hopefully also go a long way to developing brotherly love, say scientists who are part of the project.

Solomon Belay, director of the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre, stands on the right-hand side of one of the observatory’s two telescopes situated in the Entoto Mountains, overlooking the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS
“Space technology is often considered a luxury only for developed countries,” Solomon Belay, director of the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre, tells IPS. “But it’s actually a basic and vital need for development.”

He points out that space science technology and research can be applied to many basic necessities of life including health, energy, food security and environmental management. thiopia’s highland topography — the observatory sits at 3,200m — and the ideal climate here, which includes the thin air and minimal cloud cover for most of the year, make it ideal for housing observatories from where you can observe the stars and galaxies.

Already another observatory is planned to be built near Lalibela, home to Ethiopia’s famous rock-hewn churches. It would be even higher at about 4,200m. It is hoped that the observatories will kick start a scientific culture in Ethiopia, an important boost to socio-economic development, those involved tell IPS, as space science has applications in myriad areas in the public and private sectors. Read more from IPS News »

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