Community engagement

Astronomy Outreach Programme

Slogan:  Inspiring our community to reach for the stars

What is the Astronomy Outreach Programme?

The Astronomy Outreach Programme at Unisa consists of several astronomy related activities with the aim to inspire learners to get interested in science and ultimately to pursue careers in science and technology. Astronomy is a branch of physical science that can be appreciated without any scientific or mathematical background. Because it is so accessible and exciting, astronomy is of continuous interest to the general public and an excellent tool to inspire a general interest in science. Our government has identified astronomy as a key science objective and has shown their support for astronomy by investing in projects such as the SKA, SALT, MeerKAT and HESS.

The purpose of the Astronomy Outreach Programme is?

To increase science awareness in communities To stimulate the scientific curiosity of learners from a young age To encourage learners to study science at a tertiary level To educate learners and the general public about South African science projects To build relationships with non-professional societies to share knowledge and experience To educate learners and the general public on aspects of astronomy

What is CSET doing?

Astronomy presentations

  • We do astronomy presentations on a broad range of topics. These can be adapted to suit a particular target audience from primary school learners to adults. For example, we can do presentations on specialized topics in astronomy for societies and general interest groups.
  • We do hands-on demonstrations of astronomy related concepts to help participants get a better understanding and appreciation of astronomy. The demonstrations include a planet walk and building a comet. These can be done for a daytime visit or if the weather is not suitable for a viewing evening.

Viewing Evenings

  • The Muckleneuk campus hosts the only observatory in Pretoria run by professional astronomers. There is a 35 cm (14") telescope mounted on a fixed pier in the observatory with computer controlled pointing. We host small viewing evenings where participants get a tour of the night sky and a chance to look at some astronomical objects through the telescope.
  • We also host viewing evenings at remote sites by taking portable telescopes to the venues. Typical sites for off-site viewing evenings include schools and community centres. Hosting a viewing evening outside allows us to accommodate more people and we can set up more telescopes. This allows us to go to communities instead of them having to come to us at night.

Educational Resources

  • We develop educational resources such as posters or newspaper inserts on astronomical topics or current astronomical events. These resources are targeted at the general public.

How to get involved?

We usually need help with the groups to show them where to go, and tell them what to do – training is quick and easy. As an added bonus, you get to look through the telescope on viewing evenings! You can contact us if you are interested in getting involved in the programme.

Last modified: 2017/05/05