Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory (MMAO)

Mbise and Nassary at MMAO Born of Astronomers Without Borders and Telescopes to Tanzania, the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory (MMAO) is operated by the Organization for Science, Education, and Observatory (OSEO). It is located at the foot of 4,500 meter (15,000 foot) Mt. Meru, adjacent to the renowned Arusha National Park, Tanzania.

MMAO provides hands-on science education, inspiration to Tanzanian youth, and the magic of dark night skies. The observatory features a fully refurbished, permanent mount, 12″ Cave-Cassegrain telescope and several portable reflector and refractor telescopes, and a growing library of books and periodicals and educational curriculum.

We welcome visitors from nearby schools, across Tanzania, and from around the world. So if you are visiting Tanzania for the first time, or live just next door, please contact us.

Our Philosophy

Shared photons, MMAO

Welcome to Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory, Tanzania!

Within the walls of this observatory, and in all the work we do under a shared, dark sky, we hold these principals to be paramount and true.  

1) This is a place for exploring, engaging, and learning.  

2) We observe the cosmos as a unified people.  

3) We apply the scientific method: observe, hypothesize and predict test and conclude as a means to seek and share knowledge.  

4) We strive to inspire all ages, genders, and any background to ask questions and seek answers together.  

5) This is a place for discussion without criticism for the questions asked, nor punishment for answers profound.

Karibu katika kituo cha uchunguzi wa anga za juu cha Mlima Meru, Tanzania!

Ndani ya kuta za kituo hiki cha uchunguzi, na katika kazi tunazofanya chini ya anga, tunaamini kanuni hizi ni za muhimu na za kweli:  

1) Hili ni eneo la kudadisi, kushirikiana na kujifunza.  

2) Tunalitazama anga kwa umoja na kama jamii moja.

3) Tunatumia mbinu za kisayansi; kuchunguza, kujenga dhana na kubashiri, kufanya majaribio na kutoa hitimisho katika kutafuta na kubadilishana maarifa.

4) Tunajitahidi kuhamasisha kila rika, jinsia na watu wote wenye ujuzi tofauti katika kuuliza maswali na kutafuta majibu kwa pamoja.  

5) Hapa ni mahali pa majadiliano bila kukosoana kwa maswali yanayoulizwa, na bila adhabu kwa majibu yanayotolewa.


Chuck Ruehle, Telescopes to Tanzania, 2013

Chuck Ruehle, Telescopes to Tanzania, 2013 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. Instructional sessions ranged from a brief equipment overview, to introductory training, and an evening viewing session. They were able to show teachers how to use these instruments when instructing the students about astronomy and optics, and sharing the Southern night sky with children and adults in their communities.

Chuck Ruehle, Telescopes to Tanzania, 2013 In October 2011 Chuck returned to Tanzania for a month to work with five Secondary and three Primary schools. On that visit he met Eilneema Nassary, a history teacher at the school who was so excited about astronomy he founded a Science Club for students after participating in the workshop.

On that visit Chuck worked with about 80 teachers, staff, and community members, and more than 500 students. The total number of teachers and staff at the eight schools was more than 150, with more than 3,500 students.

In early 2011 Sue and Chuck spoke with Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) president, Mike Simmons. AWB provided telescopes and tripods for distribution to several school. AWB support for TtT expanded in July of 2012 when they became an official project of Astronomers Without Borders. Since then Astronomers Without Borders has provided program support, raised money for the 2012 training, and donated 2000 pair of solar viewing glasses for the 2013 Solar Eclipse.

Chuck Ruehle, Telescopes to Tanzania, 2013 In 2013 Kai Staats was traveling through Africa while working on a film about astronomy. He met Chuck and Mponda in Usa River. Kai became involved in the project, assisting with the fund raising in 2014 and returning in 2015 to design an observatory to house the 12″ Cave-Cassegrain telescope, initially refurbished by the Racine Astronomy Club.

Telescopes to Tanzania suffered a major setback with the passing of Chuck mid 2016. At this point, Kai took leadership of the project, working with Sue, Mponda, AWB, and the board of directors for the newly formed, Tanzanian Organization for Science, Education, and Observatory. Kai’s high school physics professor Dan Heim came onboard mid-2018 to guide the reconstruction of the gear box and motors for the telescope.

The observatory was completed in early 2019. Kai returned in July of that year to guide the installation of the fully refurbished, upgraded telescope. Photo essays were produced each day during the installation and configuration of the telescope, as captured here.

Organization for Science Education and Observatory

About OSEO
The Organization for Science, Education, and Observatory (OSEO) in Meru District, Tanzania is the governing body and operator of the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory. OSEO has since 2014 its formation in 2014 worked with Telescopes to Tanzania, a project of Astronomers Without Borders, to develop, construct, and manage the physical observatory and now its operational telescopes and educational facilities.

Vision and Mission
The Organization for science education and Observatory envisions a society where science and technology is ingrained in the attitudes of its people and their development.

The Organization for Science Education and Observatory is an NGO which aims to develop and attract Tanzanians interest, curiosity and love for science as one of the basic tools for technology driven development.

The main objective of the Organization for Science Education and Observatory is to promote the love of science education and astronomy among as many teachers and students as possible in Tanzania.

  • To conduct astronomical and science training for as many teachers and students as possible within Tanzania.
  • To integrate astronomy in the teaching curriculum as outlined in the national syllabus.
  • To develop and disseminate hands on science and astronomy teaching resources.
  • To create a model science laboratory and observatory with telescopes and computers, a portable planetarium, internet capacity and global connections to other observatories around the world.
  • To serve as an equatorial dark sky observing centre.

Board Members
Thomas Mbise, Chairman
Aminiel Mungure, Treasurer
Josiah Mariki
Lydia Mbise
Eliona Miley


Ailanga Secondary School

Ailanga Secondary School is a boys and girls boarding school in the Imbaseni Ward, Meru Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania. The northern boundary of the school property is the southern boundary of the Arusha National Park, a truly beautiful setting for an astronomical observatory. With no development possible to the north, and only the small, quiet village of Meru around, elephants and amateur astronomers together enjoy dark, equatorial night skies.

Under the direction of Pastor Emanuel Majola, headmaster for Ailanga, the school is the gracious host of the OSEO office and Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory.

Astronomers Without Borders
Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is dedicated to fostering understanding and goodwill across national and cultural boundaries by creating relationships through the universal appeal of astronomy. AWB projects promote sharing resources, knowledge, and inspiration through a common interest in something basic and universal—sharing the sky.

To learn more, visit

UNAWE Tanzania
UNAWE-Tanzania is a branch of Universe Awareness (UNAWE), an international project which expose very young children in under-privileged environments on the scale and beauty of the universe. It illustrates the multicultural origins of modern astronomy in an effort to broaden children’s minds, awaken their curiosity in science and stimulate global citizenship and tolerance. It uses the sky and children’s natural fascination as a ground to create an international awareness of our place in the universe and our place on Earth.

To learn more, visit

IAU Office of Astronomy for Development
The Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) is a joint project of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) with the support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The mission is to further the use of astronomy as a tool for development by mobilizing the human and financial resources necessary to realize the field’s scientific, technological and cultural benefits to society. This is primarily implemented through funding and coordinating projects that use Astronomy as a tool to address issues related to sustainable development. Since 2013, more than 140 projects have been funded through the annual Call for Proposals.

To learn more, visit