The biggest, brightest super Moon of 2020!

Tonight we can enjoy the biggest, brightest super-moon of 2020!

An introduction the event is provided at EarthSky

Full moons at apogee, or farthest from Earth (left) and perigee or closest to Earth (right) in 2011. Composite image by EarthSky community member C. B. Devgun in India. Thanks, C. B.! Using the eye alone, it’ll be difficult to notice any size difference in the full moon of April 7-8, 2020. But moon-watchers might notice that this is a very bright full moon! Plus Earth’s oceans will feel an extra pull.

In addition, Dan Heim provides us with a spellbinding timelapse video of the Moon taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). Go to How the Moon Changes for this engaging video and Dan’s full explanation.

The great questions students ask!

“I am very happy to share with you my final report of what I was planning to do with my students since last week, that we have managed to launch our water rocket yesterday but it was a day of trial and error. It helped us to identify our mistakes so that we can improve them. I know that this can make someone to blast with laughter but we are very happy as through practice make us to be perfect.

As per yesterday it can be seen that we use fins made of boxes that later we discovered that when [the rocket takes off] they get water and failed to properly well. But today we managed to change [the fins] and with very high speed like that of super jet speed!

Therefore since we started the project with my students they were very exited with it and always they asked me much questions, such as:

“Will it be possible to enter and insert a seat or chairs?”
“Does it mean that all rockets used the same water mechanism to fly?”
“What if a rocket fails to fly? Will there be any side effects to both animal and plant?”
“What are the necessary things to be adhered before launching?”

Also as it can seen on pics, those students with green pullover-sweater are those with special needs (both hearing and speaking), Albinism, and Intellectual Impermanent. For sure they enjoyed a lot as they can be seen trying to pump the water rocket. Not only that but also through the practice they have a message from their fellow students and intellectual world wide that even students people with disability they can do more and good things like others. Therefore we should stop the habit of despising [those who are challenged], telling them that they cannot.

Finally, Ilboru Primary school students say that through Astronomy we all can integrate and make be as one as we can be entertained, learn and show different talent that we have, you’re are all welcome to learn and enjoyed together. Thank you!” –Eliatosh Maleko, Instructor at Ilboro Primary School and Astronomy Ambassador for the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory.

Launching water rockets at Ilboru, Tanzania!

Instructor and Astronomy Ambassador for MMAO Eliatosha Maleko writes, “For my school [this] was very, very fantastic because many students and teacher were amazed. From the beginning they didn’t know what was going on but later some of them were trying to guess [if] it is a boom. Later when I was trying to launch they realized that it was a rocket!

Second this project involves pupils from Standard 5 and 6 whereby they are about 10-14 years old. I decided to use pupils of this age because most of them the old enough to receive different instruction and old enough to participate in different creation activities, though all students are able to do that. Also for the lower classes they were observing and asking many questions about it.

Also I am happy that students [from] a nearby school were [also] here as it was the sports day and their teachers were amazed with this project. Therefore the project is very important to educational purposes due to the fact that it enhances curiosity and innovations to the students apart from receiving knowledge in the class room.

Five … Four … Three … Two … One! Lift-off!

Saturday and Sunday saw the students of Ailanga engaged with Zacharia, Eliatosha, and Pandaeli in the design, construction, and launch of their first water rockets! This is the culmination of weeks of research, parts acquisition, and preparation.

While the students have designed far more sophisticated rockets, these first three launches test the launch pad, release mechanism, and launch vehicle. Already experiments are in motion to understand the physics and variables that define the altitude achieved: water to air ratio, mass of water, and pressure applied through the bicycle pump given the volume of the bottle.

For many of these students, this is their first hands-on, do-it-yourself experiment of any kind. At MMAO this is surely the first of many more to come!

Making water rockets at Ilboru, Tanzania

MMAO - Elliatosha's students build water rockets!

Eliatosha Maleko, Astronomy Ambassador to MMAO and instructor at the Ilboru Primary School. Established in 1950, Ilboru is uinque among the government schools in that it offers a special education unit students who have hearing disabilities (deaf), mental disabilities, (hangamoto ya ufahamu), and tailoring to blind students. It is located in Arusha District, Ilboru ward. Every year the school enrolls new students to join from different level of education, such as kindergarten, Form One, etc. There are 1655 students and 40 teachers as of 2018.

Eliatosha offers the following update for his work with his students to build a water rocket program, “Hellow Mr, Kai! I with my students are very happy to share little things with our fellows [across] the globe. Through visiting different websites and YouTube videos, I have met different friends all around, especially from Pakistan. What I have learned from all those people is how they managed to make water rocket project by using simple and few things that are not cost full compared to others.

Since we had started planning for this project we have few challenges, especially funding to buy [the required] connectors. Therefore with my students we started by gathering different things (as explained above) and we managed to do this! As you know that every thing we must be creative before doing it.

We managed to start to assembly and connecting some parts, especially bottles and rocket fins.

Viewing the Moon for the very first time

MMAO - observing session Astronomy Ambassador Zacharia Mujungu, instructor at Ailanga writes, “This past Saturday we enjoyed the first clear sky after an unusually long, long period of rainfall. I and Pendaeli hosted Form One students at the MMAO observatory. They were so excited to observe the Moon and Venus through the telescope for first time in their life. This big smiling faces is the indicator that this telescope is the cornerstone for science revolution in Tanzania. We feel indebted to do more and go extra miles to make it available to all students in the country, [working to] change the classroom learning environment by encouraging hands on activities (DIY), not just test scores.

Physics educator Dan Heim attends MMAO Ambassadors call

For more than 30 years retired high school physics instructor, amateur astronomer, and professional writer Dan Heim provided students with the joy of learning the fundamentals of physics, both here on Earth applied to the skies above.

In the fall of 2018 Dan was instrumental in rebuilding and upgrading the 12″ Cave-Cassegrain telescope now in use at the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory, Tanzania. He has since remained engaged with MMAO, working to guide applied science instruction at the observatory and in the classroom.

Dan guided MMAO to the freely available Harvard Project Physics text books (, the same used in his own classrooms. Having read Unit 1 of the Physics Handbook, the MMAO Ambassadors invited Dan to join in a live SKype session, to answer questions invoked by what they had read.

Thank you Dan!

200 Students visit the observatory!

MMAO - 200 students visit the observatory After a long, seemingly endless three months of rain, the sun has come out and the students have arrived –in droves!

Zacharia writes, “Today, Pendaeli and I received 200 Confirmation students and 15 teacher from Mulala Parish which is made of three sub-parishes, Kilinga, Kyuta and Mulala itself. They came for a youth conference hosted by Ailanga and led by the Bishop of the Diocese of Meru. This is the first big group we ever received–and it was really big!

“They visited our observatory and we were able to give a short tour for them, explaining what [astronomers] do. The kids were so exited to see such a big telescope, something they never knew it is existing. For example one young boy didn’t want to leave the observatory until he could see through a telescope. So we provided him a small telescope and in the end he left with a great memory.

“The teachers promised to come back and make appointment for night observation.”

What a day!

A Discussion of Generations

MMAO - a discussion of generations

MMAO Astronomy Ambassador Zacharia shares the following …

Eliona Miley and myself, we opened the observatory and we were able to conduct general cleanness with the help of students by removing cobwebs, dusts, lizards feces and all kind of debris. During and after cleaning we held a discussion with students on different matters in life, especially from their tribes’ culture and tradition.
For example, [we discussed] inter-family and inter-tribal marriage restrictions and the relationship between youth and elders. We realized that many of them, they don’t know much about their culture’s history.

This raised several questions as to why the young generation is not interested to ask questions, to learn from the elders. Instead you are seeking only answers among themselves. We asked, “Why do you think you know everything?” Do elders have nothing valuable information that you can learn from them?

The youth have a Swahili phrase, to discourage old ideologies and teachings or any kind of advice, when parents and society think it’s against our traditions and culture. For example clothing styles, hair styles, and other kinds of behavior like engagement in sexual relationships (being boy friends & girl friend openly before a certain age), etc. They say, “TUNAKWENDA NA WAKATI” which means “WE ARE GOING OR ACTING TO THE CLOCK”.

After a long discussion they admitted that its true, that they are not asking questions from their elder brothers, sisters or their parents about issues concerning general life skills. This has brought a great concern to us as to why this barrier between the elders and the young generation is happening and continuing to increase everyday. This is affecting even the classrooms where students are not asking questions, so the learning process has become difficult.

There are several reasons as to why this is happening here in Tanzania and even globally. We asked, “Who or what is the source of all this? Are parents guiding their children? Or are they too busy to pass tradition to their children?” This conflict between the former and next generation has two sides, as elders are not wanting to change and youth do not see value in the elders heritage, [essentially] wisdom outdated.

There is a feeling that the breakdown in the communication between the generations is resulting in a loss of knowledge, and what could be the most powerful generation in Tanzania is instead lost. The youth are instead going to the internet, social media, and movies for their education.

There is a need to seal this gap in order to make a generation which values the need for change and embrace it with positive attitude without losing momentum by creating barriers between the elders and the young generation.

MMAO - a time for cleaning MMAO - a time for cleaning