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RAS200 in Africa

Khoi-san constellation 'The beast"

Image Credit: SAAO/Suki Lock/Auke Slotegraaf

The October issue of A&G covers one of the RAS200 Bicentenary outreach projects will be taking place in South Africa, using a major exhibition as the focus for astronomy education and outreach.

2020 sees the bicentenary of the South African Astronomical Observatory as well as that of the Royal Astronomical Society; as part of the RAS200 outreach project, the RAS will be supporting a touring exhibition about astronomy, a project led by Sivuyile Manxoyi of SAAO.

The exhibition will link the cultural heritage of the peoples of South Africa with the research heritage of the Observatory – strong in photography and imaging techniques, as well as reflecting the current development of new astronomical infrastructure in the region – and the scientific and technical challenges of working with the huge datasets that observatories such as the Square Kilometre Array will produce.  “We would love the public to be aware of what South Africa is contributing to science,” said Manxoyi, “as well as what the impact will be on our society and our economic development. We want to use the link to inspire young people to go into science and technology.”

In order to achieve this, the project has wide support among the astronomical research projects taking shape in the region, among science centres across South Africa, which will host the exhibition and from South Africa's government, keen to develop the STEM skills of their growing population. A particular focus of the outreach associated with the 2020 exhibition will be the development of teaching resources and training for the nation's teachers, most of whom qualified at a time when astronomy teaching was limited. These resources have the the potential to be widely used and adapted, for many years, providing a legacy for the future from this historical event.

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