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Sep 09

Importance of Good Recordkeeping in Science

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 7, 2019 at 3:43 AM Wednesday, September 4, Zacharia and Pendaeli opened the observatory for a survey of four stars. The goal was to establish how far off the RA axis of rotation is due to the remaining, incomplete alignment of the telescope. If we had just one night with more than an hour of clear skies after sunset, we'd have this done and move on. But such is astronomy. For all the understanding of the workings of the world, we do not (yet) control the weather (which is probably a good thing). I have...

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Aug 14

The Quest to Seek Polar North Continues

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 12, 2019 at 11:55 PM With my family Lindah and her son Liam, Bernard and Truphena again in their home in Nairobi Kenya, I returned my focus to the setting the telescope in its final position. I was joined by Telescopes to Tanzania Ambassadors Eliatosha, Elineema, Eliona, Pendaeli, and Zacharia, and Ailanga students David and for this effort. While we had three times before attempted to find polar north using "high noon" and the shortest shadow of the sun as defined by this website ( https://heavens-above.com/ ), we feel it is important to obtain this... Read More...

Aug 14

Work Continues on the Telescope's Alignment

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 10, 2019 at 1:04 PM Not much to report this past two days, as I was mostly away from the observatory spending time with my visiting daughter and son from Kenya. We got the TV and whiteboard hung and disassembled the telescope again to perform what we hope to be the final high-noon drop shadow test to determine polar north and south. With this, we will align the base of the telescope, set the bolts once and for all, and then make fine adjustments with the head. But alas, no sun at noon for several days.... Read More...

Aug 14

Students Show Much Promise

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 8, 2019 at 12:21 AM Yesterday saw a multitude of tasks. I worked with students to mark the spots on the wall West wall where the new TV and white board will be mounted. Another group working with Ambassador Eliatosha disassembled an AWB Galileo reflector telescope, cleaned the primary and secondary mirrors, and reassembled it fully while another, in parallel, cleaned and rebuilt a Celestron refractor. It is imperative to take note that none of these students have ever done anything like this before, most having never used a hex wrench or screwdriver. Without instruction, without... Read More...

Aug 13

Mr. Miley's Class Visits the Observatory

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 6, 2019 at 11:23 PM Last night Mr. Miley and his Form Four class of the Ngongongare Secondary School visited the observatory. Following Miley's introduction the observatory and the use of a telescope, I provided a lecture for the 3 axes of the equatorial telescope and the function of the concave and convex mirrors in our primary telescope. I asked the students to calculate the rotational velocity of the Earth, given its circumference and then we moved into conversations about why we cannot feel the Earth spinning as compared to that of, say, riding on a... Read More...

Aug 12

More Students, More Telescopes, More Observatations

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 5, 2019 at 10:45 PM Last night we engaged our second observing session at the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory, from 7-10 pm. Again, we enjoyed a full house, with what was easily 60 or more students. This time both boys and girls from the Ailanga secondary school (and the boys were clearly more well behaved :) We introduced three additional telescopes, two mounted on a table, one on a tripod. With these, the students engaged in their own exploration of the night sky overhead. First, we observed the Moon as we had Saturday night. After everyone... Read More...

Aug 12

The Telescope's First View: The Moon!

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 3, 2019 at 3:16 PM We saw first light! Today was a whirlwind of activity, with more than 40 students actively engaged at the observatory from shortly after noon 'till well after 10 pm. I juggled management of a half dozen projects, all perfectly executed by the students and two of our ambassadors-teachers. Today we got the drive motors mounted and the cables attached to the base after thorough testing of all possible directions the telescope moves. One student group built the cap for the telescope tube from the high density, shipping crate foam while another... Read More...

Aug 10

Girls Shine at Nigeria-Astronomers Without Borders Astronomy Camp

by Jessica Santascoy Community Engagement Manager, Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) Imagine you are a 10-year old female and you love looking at the sky. You want to learn more - what is the Sun made of, what is a spiral galaxy? You find information on YouTube, at the library, anywhere you can find it. You tell your teacher you want to learn more, but you notice the teacher ignores you. Boys get more attention when they talk about science! You feel sad, frustrated, and wonder if you should give up. Girls across the world feel this frustration when they can't... Read More...

Aug 09

Kai Works on Balancing the Telescope

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 2, 2019 at 11:53 AM Today Eliona and I spent from 10 am until after 3 pm with a delegation from the US ( https://www.schoolandcollegelistings.com/…/Ailanga-School-P… ), learning about their programs and history with the school, and sharing our own experience in the development of the observatory. From 4-6 we worked with Zacharia and a number of students to balance the telescope before applying the motors. We were confused as to the behavior of the telescope at various angles, but with some diagrams on the white board we recognized that the center of gravity is not symmetrical... Read More...

Aug 08

The Telescopes to Tanzania Story

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 2, 2019 at 10:49 AM In the summer of 2010 Sue and Chuck Ruehle traveled from Wisconsin to Northern Tanzania, and brought with them three 50mm Galileoscopes. Traveling and living between six and eight thousand feet they stayed in the villages of Mulala, Kilinga, and Kyuta. From this location on the side of Mt. Meru (4,566 meters) they enjoyed viewing the dark skies, they also visited Ngarenanyuki and Songoro secondary schools, sharing their passion for astronomy. These two schools and the Mulala community each received a telescope and tripod, two modern eyepieces, and other astronomy materials.... Read More...

Aug 08

Kai Provides Learning Opportunities

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 1, 2019 at 2:29 PM Today we opened the first of a number of posters (one of which is over 30 feet long, a print from ASU SESE of a crater on the Moon). Several Ailanga students who come by each day and help, ask questions, and engage were today looking at the map of the Moon. I explained how false color imaging is used to depict elevation, and asked them to determine, based upon their understanding of geology on Earth which areas were high and which were low. Then, we continued our investigation of concave... Read More...

Aug 07

Spotting Scope Is Installed Today

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 1, 2019 at 1:57 PM Today saw the installation of the new Orion spotting scope, declination collar and counter weight, and finally, after 12 days, what we hope is the final placement of the tube assembly onto the mount. The spotting scope gave us some trouble as I had purchased it after the telescope had shipped, so none of the existing mounting holes fit. We had only a hand drill with very sloppy settings, so there was no way that would work. Eliona jumped on his motor cycle and drove to four local repair shops while... Read More...

Aug 07

Welcome to Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 1, 2019 at 1:44 PM This is the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory with the massive roof rolled off. Truly, a very unique architecture. View Kai's Facebook page here . Read More...

Aug 07

Collimation Problem Found and Solved

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 1, 2019 at 1:38 PM Two days ago we completed the collimation of the telescope. While we thought this was completed two days prior, closer inspection showed that the central image was egg shaped, an "oblique obstruction" as Dan Heim called it. Turns out that the image projected on the wall when a headlamp was strapped to the eye piece mount was different than the image we saw when receiving light in the same position. This baffled us, as we assumed the reflective geometry was totally reversible. Then I noticed that I was tending to lean... Read More...

Aug 04

The Telescope is Collimated!

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - July 30, 2019 at 1:11 PM The telescope is collimated! This was no easy endeavor, but finally, the mirrors are aligned. Photos and a deeper explanation to come. Also, today saw the second face-to-face meeting of the local Astronomy Ambassadors for the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory. View Kai's Facebook page here . Read More...

Jul 31

Work on the Telescope's Pedestal and Mirrors Begins

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - July 27 Today saw an incredible effort by instructors and students alike as we sanded and painted the pedestal, and then moved to install the primary and secondary mirrors. This is no small undertaking but was completed by a tenacious, dedicated group. Between major tasks we took time for exploration of various types of telescopes, discussion of nuclear fusion and the life of stars, and how various life forms both receive and generate light in the electromagnetic spectrum. View Kai's Facebook page here . Read More...

Jul 30

The Work Begins to Set-Up the Telescope

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - July 26 The past three days have seen a great deal of running to town to get parts and tools. Today we took the telescope's original, 250lbs steel base to the Arusha Technical University in order to remove 30cm from the bottom, providing the necessary clearance for the telescope to clear the roll-off roof. Read More...

Jul 30

The Telescope is Moved to Mt. Meru Observatory

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - July 23 I arrived yesterday to Tanzania and the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory, operated by the Organization for Science Education and Observatory. I am immediately reminded of the beauty of this place, with roosters and song birds bringing the morning, elephants calling at the close of the day, and a body of dedicated teachers and eager students wanting to learn about the dark, East African night skies. Today we moved the four crates that contain the telescope shipped in January to the observatory itself, opened and unpacked, and prepared a simple workflow for the days ahead. While... Read More...

Jul 30

Telescopes to Tanzania Project Update

by Kai Staats

Kai Staats has returned to Tanzania to work with Telescopes to Tanzania Astronomy Ambassadors for the installation of the upgraded, 1969 12.5" Cave-Cassegrain at the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory. This AWB project was initiated by Pastors Chuck & Sue Ruehle, Mponda Malozo, and the Board of Directors of the Organization for Science Education & Observatory. With the passing of Chuck in 2016, Kai Staats assumed leadership and has since guided the construction of the observatory and hands-on refurbishing of the telescope. The recent two years are captured in four photos essays at the AWB website: https://astronomerswithoutborders.org/awb-programs/resource-sharing-programs/telescopes-to-tanzania.html Stay tuned as the... Read More...

Jul 30

Tanzania Touchdown

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - July 22, 2019 I am safely arrived to Meru, Tanzania. Tomorrow I meet with the board of directors for the science center and observatory, then work with two of the ambassadors to move the three crates to the observatory and start to unpack. Excited! Read More...

Jul 30

Kai Prepares to Return to Tanzania

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - July 18 In just 48 hours I will board a flight to Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. There, we will unpack and reassemble the historic Cave-Cassegrain telescope initially refurbished by the Racine Astronomical Society and then completed by me and Dan Heim, here in Arizona, last fall. This will bring to fruition a journey started nearly a decade ago by Chuck and Sue, Mponda Sibuor , the Board of Directors in Meru, and all who have worked to bring astronomy to rural Tanzania. Stay tuned to the Astronomers Without Borders website and Telescopes to Tanzania FB pages as we work... Read More...