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Burgeoning Astronomy in Gabon

Submitter: Patrice OKOUMA
Description: I am a cosmologist from Gabon, presently based in Cape Town (South Africa). My research interests are increasingly gravitating towards the field of HI-cosmology. From September 22 to October 8, I was at ASTRON, working with Maaijke Mevius on how to extract ionospheric information from radio interferometric data. Our collaboration started during the 3GC-III workshop in Feb. 10-22 in South Africa. Such exchanges are bound to mature.

On Nov. 3, a total solar eclipse swept across Africa, with a focal point in Gabon. As head of NOMMO ASTRONOMIA http://ama09gabon.weebly.com/), the society for astronomy and space science in Gabon, I led a team of close collaborators to:

  • organize the first week-long workshop on astronomy and space science http://eclipse2013.weebly.com/) in Libreville, capital city of Gabon from October 28 to November 3;
  • facilitate a key workshop of the OAD, a Bureau of the IAU http://www.astro4dev.org/activities/pan-african-eclipse/oad-workshop-french/draft-agenda/). The aim was to discuss the feasibility of a French language node of resource sharing. It was held from Nov. 4 to 5 in the headquarters of the Gabonese Space Agency;
  • facilitate two scientific expeditions. The first one led by Prof. Jay Pasachoff (USA), chair of the IAU's Working Group on Eclipses. The second one led by Prof. Zhongquan Qu, solar physicist with the Yunnan Astronomical Observatory (China) who came to test the prototype of a second generation polarimeter called FASOT.

    The week-long workshop was funded by the OAD/ICTP, with also a generous sponsorship from the Lycee International Berthe & Jean in Libreville. Following these successes, plans are under way for the first School of Astronomy and Space Science for Central Africa (SASSCA) in 2014, with the goal to set it up as a biennial school. Follow-up initiatives to both workshops will constitute milestones in integrating Afrique Francophone into growing pan-African science and technology initiatives such as the SKA and the AVLBI, while widening the pool of future users for MeerKAT, SALT and HESS.
  • Copyright: Patrice OKOUMA [[Image courtesy of Jay Pasachoff]]
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