Four astronomical things about new telescope at North West University

2015-08-20 21:13
(Ahmed Areff, News24)

(Ahmed Areff, News24)

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Johannesburg - The mysteries and awe surrounding our universe have just been brought one step closer with a new state-of-the-art telescope at the North West University's Mafikeng campus.

Professor Thebe Medupe, who is in charge of the Mafikeng Astronomical Observatory, told News24 that while the telescope was only 40cm in diameter, it would not only benefit students at the university, but would also have a profound impact on the lives of South Africans.

The observatory was unveiled on August 1.

Here are four interesting things about this stargazing device:

1) It will be used to create more interest in science and technology

"It is critical for outreach to communities," Medupe said.

"We have a shortage of people in science. Given the fact that it is in a semi-rural area [in Mafikeng], the appeal of the telescope is very important in drawing people, and making them interested in science and technology."

2) Members of the public would be allowed to gaze at the heavens

Medupe said that there were at least two sessions since it was unveiled, where people were able to get up close with the moon, as well as planets like Jupiter, Saturn and Venus, with the help of a guide.

More sessions would be held.

3) It helps scratch humanity's existential itch

"It appeals to all members of the public. Looking through the telescope helps deal with questions that people ask themselves, like where did we come from and where are we going. Astronomy deals with those questions," Medupe said.

4) University students and school pupils will be able to look through it, from anywhere in the country, through a specific camera on the telescope

"This is very innovative. Once it is fully set-up, with our permission, you will be able to steer the telescope remotely to observe what you want to observe."

Medupe said they wanted to collaborate with schools around the country for sessions with the telescope, and to also use it to assist physics students in institutions like the University of Venda and the University of Zululand.

Read more on:    north west university  |  education  |  science

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