Creative DIY solutions prevail!

MMAO - creative DIY solutions

On Wednesday December 11, 2019, ambassadors, Zacharia, Eliona, Elineema and Pendaeli were successful in fixing the roof leakages which allowed dust and tree leaves debris to enter the observatory, using pieces of mattress stuffing. We are now looking forward to find permanent solution for water leakage which is currently fixed only temporarily by pushing iron sheets from the inside up, using a small telescope tripod stand and a plastic bar.

MMAO - creative DIY solutions MMAO - creative DIY solutions

Ambassador Eliona visits Star High School

MMAO - Miley at Star High School

Last week Astronomy Ambassador and middle school instructor Eliona Miley visited the Star high school, roughly 23 km south of Usa River. He met with Form Five and Form Six students to introduce them to the the use of a telescope, MMAO, our the observatory at Ailanga. He has invited them to visit (as soon as the rain stops!

This week he introduced the Star High School Science Club to astronomy! Great work!

Camera Test, Observation, Movie Night

MMAO - lunar photos

Yesterday afternoon I reinstalled Windows on the observatory laptop, as we had issues with a virus. It is working much better now. I also re-installed the Orion CCD camera software, then attached the camera to the Celestron spotting telescope for a test run. It is the first time we have been successful in getting quality images.

[The same night] we opened the observatory and we were able to observe the Moon, again testing our CCD camera. I was able to capture some decent images. Thereafter [we] hosted movie night with my students on the COSMOS series, with a reading session in our library. We enjoyed a good conversation about the Episode 6 story, especially [on] the issue of the photosynthesis process, and how it is important to our life on earth. The students [expressed] concern for the “Tardigrade” and its high survival rate, ability to live anywhere in any environment. The questions were How is that possible? How did it survive all five mass extinctions on Earth? This make them to be [a] very special species, among all living things ever existed in the universe.

Other topics of interest were the supernova explosions and the law of conservation of energy. In the students’ physics classes, they study only the theory, so they were so surprised to see the way Tyson bet his nose, just letting the hanging stone/ball go and swing back without hitting his face! Then, they could see that the law of conservation of energy and other scientific laws are real!

Ailanga Physics Class visits MMAO

MMAO - Ailanga Physics class visits

Zacharia shares the following, “This week, the Ailanga Form 3 and 4 physics teacher asked me [to] help him find a video about Astronomical telescopes and how they work in comparison to microscopes, to show his students in our observatory. Yesterday night we [brought] students to the observatory to show them the video which led us into a very good discussion. [T]heir teacher was there together with me to lead the discussion. It was awesome because students were so excited and more engaged in asking questions!”

MMAO - Ailanga Physics class visits Tonight they watched the 5th episode of COSMOS. They learned about light, and Isaac Newton’s experiments with a thermometer and prism. Now, the students want to duplicate the experiment. There are many prisms and a few thermometers, but we may look for a higher quality, digital unit to get high quality results.

Stay tuned!

Observation – 28 September 2019

MMAO - Aligning the 12" Cave-Cassegrain telescope

Last night MMAO Astronomy Ambassadors Zacharia Mjungu and Pendael Nassary were successful in conducting a third drift test, this time noting all parameters to make certain we can effectively interpret the results and align the telescope more accurately.

In short summary, they selected a star almost directly overhead, which at MMAO is close to the celestial equator. They rotate the reticle eyepiece such that when slewing the telescope East and West the star tracked parallel to one of the two cross hairs. They then centered the star and with the RA motor engaged, allowed the star to drift from center to edge.

With a 25mm eyepiece, it took 23 minutes for the star to move past the edge. This is very good for a hand-aligned telescope and perfect for public star parties, but for astro-photography we want to do better.

Now, they will interpret the results using the guidance provided on this website for the Southern Hemisphere, and suggest how we can make very small adjustments to the polar and/or equatorial axis.

Stay tuned!

NASA spectrographs

MMAO - Studying sunlight with NASA spectrographs

Today the MMAO hosted the assembly of NASA spectrographs. These simple, effective tools enable us to “see” the composition of our Sun in a safe and effective manner, combining chemistry, physics, and astronomy in a cohesive understanding.

Zacharia writes, “… students come over to our library and they were looking for different kinds of materials including reading books. Later they wanted to know about [the] spectroscope. We didn’t even plan to do it. Then we started to discuss together and started building them under Eliatosha’s guidance because he did it before. Students were able to make four spectroscope and connect them with prism glass–it was awesome! I am so impressed with the way students are eager to learn and engaged.”

Visitors to the Observatory – 19 September 2019

MMAO - Visitors from the United States

A small group of Americans visited the Ailanga school and were pleasantly surprised to discover a fully operational, astronomical observatory on campus! They didn’t have much time, but Eliona, Zacharia, and Pandaeli gave the a quick tour. We look forward to the day when we open to schools, safari tourists, and the general public on a regular basis.

An Ambassador’s Story, by Eliatosha

MMAO - Eliatosha's story

This just in from Eliatosha Maleko, instructor at Ilboru Primary School and Astronomy Ambassador for MMAO, his summary of the month working on the completion of the observatory and installation of the telescope.

“I am very happy to express my sincere gratitude and happiness to you since I started my participation in the Astronomy about 10 years since … It is amazing and Astronomy [has] changed everything in my life and the people surrounding me, especially my students.

Through my learning all those years I have learned how to work with people of different areas and especially to show passion [for] Astronomy [and this] makes my students to love to learn as their curious to know more and more.

In my three weeks astronomical participation with Mr Kai, I have learned many things and especially, culture of different people all round the world, learning especially on how to take very small and minor measurements … I have learned to take things seriously and never to ignore [the details].

Moreover [we worked in] time management so that every thing should be done in time, and [to share] passion and humbleness to to people of different ages and to listening to them as through them we learned many things.

I have learned to say “I don’t know” as a way to learn more … it doesn’t matter you’re title, the only thing to say [is] “I don’t know”.

Finally I thanks everyone especially Astronomers Without Borders, UNAWE, and their facilitators and donors for their support … especially to Telescopes to Tanzania Pastor Chuck, Sue, Dan, Mike, Kai, and Mponda for their great, great support, encouraging and participation to make sure that students enjoy learning and to explore more our sky.

Together we can enhance learning and improve Astronomy in Tanzania.” –Eliatosha

MMAO - Eliatosha's story

An Ambassador’s Story, by Elineema

Elineema Nassary describes the thirty days of our working together as follows. “I experienced many things during the mounting of [the 12”] telescope at MMAO. I learned that we are all learning, and no one knows everything. I learned that a good scientist knows three words ‘I DON’T KNOW’. Let us learn together. [W]e all shared knowledge during mounting the telescope and sometimes we engaged students to work with us.

“I also experienced that I have to work for the future generation and not for my benefit. Therefore we volunteered our time and even our liquidity in order to fulfill the mission of our beloved, late Pastor Chuck and mama Sue to come true. Yes it has happen. What is following is living in the Chuck’s idea of inspiring our students to love science.

“[F]rom my fellow who we were together during mounting the telescope, especially from Kai, [I learned] to be very careful on everything I am doing, not to answer direct question if you are not 100% sure on it, [and] also reading and do[ing] more research on what you are learning. Moreover, be clean and keep everything on its position and be slow in fixing things.” –Elineema