Episode 18: Dark skies over Africa

with Carringtone Kinyanjui and Olayinka Fagbemiro

We are joined by the Carringtone Kinyanjui who is a student at the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a member of the Sayari Astronomy Outreach and Astro-Tourism group who promote the dark skies of Africa!

Carringtone talks about his relationship with astronomy and the incredible work the Sayari group is doing in Kenya. The Sayari project involves collaborating with lodges in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, training their guides in ethno-astronomy, light pollution awareness and telescope operation.

The group also runs a great project recording the indigenous knowledge of the African skies by collecting stories from around the country.

Olayinka Fagbemiro, the Assistant Chief Scientific Officer of the National Space Research and Development Agency in Abuja, Nigeria then joins us. Olayinka is also the local coordinator for Astronomers Without Borders in Nigeria.

We chat about the development work that is done by the National Space Research and Development Agency, and some of their achievements in launching satellites from Nigeria as well as the outreach work that is done across Nigeria through the Astronomers Without Borders project.

This week’s Guests:

Related Links:
Sayari Group: http://sayarikenya.org/
University of Nairobi: https://www.uonbi.ac.ke/
Astronomers with Borders Nigeria: https://awbnigeria.com/
Astronomers without Borders: https://astronomerswithoutborders.org/
National Space Research and Development Agency: https://nasrda.gov.ng/en/

Featured Image:
Sayari Outreach in Kenya


Transcribed by Lynette Delhaize

Dan: [00:00:00] Welcome to The Cosmic Savannah with Dr. Daniel Cunnama

Jacinta: [00:00:08] and Dr Jacinta Delhaize. Each episode, we’ll be giving you a behind the scenes look at world-class astronomy and astrophysics happening under African skies.

Dan: [00:00:17] We introduce you to the people involved, technology we use, the exciting work we do and fascinating discoveries we make.

Jacinta: [00:00:24] Sit back and relax as we take you on a Safari through the skies.

Hello, welcome to episode 18.

Dan: [00:00:37] Welcome and apologies for my cold

Jacinta: [00:00:40] sounding a little nasally there, Dan.

Dan: [00:00:42] Sorry about that.

Jacinta: [00:00:44] So what are we talking about today?

Dan: [00:00:47] So today we’re talking about African skies. Yeah. In the truest sense, we are talking,

Jacinta: [00:00:51] we’re leaving South Africa,

Dan: [00:00:52] leaving South Africa, going into Africa, talking about Kenya and Nigeria and some of the exciting things happening there. How people are utilizing our African dark skies,  for good, for education, for economic gain, and basically capitalizing on this advantage we have. In South Africa, we have this act, The Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act, which kind of covers the SKA and Mia Kat.

I think that’s something which is true in most of Africa. We are at a real advantage when it comes to having nice, clean, dark skies.  I think that’s something that we should really work on and use to our advantage.

Jacinta: [00:01:41] Yeah, exactly. I think the African continent has a lot of negative connotations even to the people themselves sometimes but we’re going to hear from two people today who treat it as an asset with joy and are trying to get more people to fall in love with Africa’s dark skies. As you said, to use it to help boost the economy. 

Dan: [00:02:08] I think more than that in Africa, if you have a relationship with the stars, and a lot of people live rural, they see the stars much better than people who live in big cities or in Europe and the States. Where if you’re lucky, you can see a couple of hundred stars on a dark night. Whereas in the dark places, you can see thousands, thousands, and thousands of stars, the Milky way and in the Southern hemisphere, you can see the Magellanic clouds. So people have this ongoing relationship with the skies through their own understanding. And we’ll talk a little bit about that too, but also, even today, just having that fascination and interest in the stars.

Jacinta: [00:02:52] I think everybody feels some sort of connection with the stars, with the night sky certainly if you’ve grown up seeing it. Nowadays, a lot of us haven’t, you know, if we’ve grown up in cities.

Dan: [00:03:02] Which is very sad. Yeah and something we’re trying to fix.

Jacinta: [00:03:04] Okay. So today we’re going to be speaking to Carringtone Kinyanjui , who is a master student at the University of Nairobi studying theoretical astrophysics and also from Olayinka Fagbemiro who works at the Nigerian space agency and with The Astronomers without Borders. And from both of those, we’re going to hear about amazing initiatives to use astronomy and the space industry and the night sky to inspire a nation and a continent.

Dan: [00:03:34] And you caught up with them both. So I look forward to hearing it.

Jacinta: [00:03:37] Yeah. So I caught up with Carringtone and  Olayinka at this year’s Astronomy in Africa conference earlier on in the year when they were visiting Cape town.

And I got to hear their incredible stories. So Carringtone as I said, is a student in Nairobi, in Kenya, and he is also involved in a project called Sayari, which is an astronomy education and Astro-tourism campaign to get the Safari lodges, the game lodges, to also have a component for the tourists about Astro-tourism.

So looking up at the night sky learning ethno- astronomy so the stories of the local people, and sort of building a better connection with the sky and generating some more income. So he’s involved with training speakers and sort of campaigning the lodgers and these sorts of things. So let’s hear from Carringtone.

We’re now talking to Carringtone Kinyanjui. Welcome Carringtone.

Carringtone: [00:04:44] Thank you for having me, Jacinta. It’s a pleasure.

Jacinta: [00:04:47] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Carringtone: [00:04:50]  I can tell a lot. Okay, good.I’m a student. My name is Carringtone Kinyanjui. I’m a student at the University of Nairobi back in Kenya.  I’m also with this Sayari Astronomy Outreach and Astro-Tourism group.

 We are basically a bunch of students who work around Kenya. Sayari is Swahili for the planet. Planet is Greek for wanderer. We wander about in Kenya telling astronomical stories, learning astronomical stories from the local community and trying to create a sustainable outreach and a strong tourism business model in Kenya.

So, yeah, that’s what we do.

Jacinta: [00:05:35] So wonderful.  I have so many questions. I’m not even sure where to start. So now you obviously have a big interest in astronomy and you are doing  a degree in astronomy. Yes?

Carringtone: [00:05:48] Yeah.

Jacinta: [00:05:48] Right. Let’s just start there. What did, what got you interested in that and  what are you working on at the moment?

Carringtone: [00:05:54] So, funny story. It’s a novel that got me interested in astronomy. It was Angels and Demons by Dan Brown. Oh, really? Yeah. I’m a novel person of stele novel person. So I read it and discovered this part of physics that is not taught in secondary schools in Kenya. So physics is this boring thing that tells you how doors move. I learnt about particles, antiparticles, antimatter, colliders, Big Bang, and I was wondering, is this really real? So I went to check it out in the library and found, wow. This is real stuff. And that’s where I started, back in high school, and got interested in astronomy. I then applied to my undergraduate, and there I was accepted to study astronomy at the University of Nairobi.

So that’s my origin story, if you will. Yeah,

Jacinta: [00:06:51] I think that’s probably the best origin story I’ve ever heard.

Carringtone: [00:06:54] Thank you. Thank you. Jacinta.

Jacinta: [00:06:57] So you went to university and then what are you doing with that now?

Carringtone: [00:07:00] So after that I graduated and I then enrolled back for masters in theoretical astrophysics at the university of Nairobi. After that we were selected with a group of other students from engineering, geospatial engineering, electrical, physics related fields. We were selected by the project called Development of Africa with radio astronomy.  So they told us to put in a proposal of a project that we would like to do in our country.

So we had a discussion and voted on it, and one of us proposed that we should try to find a sustainable business-like project in the country. We settled on astro-tourism, taking into account that Africa has such beautiful dark skies. It’s amazing. Those Africans living in the city try going to the rural areas at least once a month.

You will see what I’m talking about. So we decided to sell that as a product of Africa through astro- tourism. So it would entail training guides and all this stuff. Yeah. I guess we’ll get into that later. Yeah.

Jacinta: [00:08:19] Let’s jump straight into it now. Why not? Okay. So you’re running a project called Sayari, so tell us more about that.

Carringtone: [00:08:26] So sayari is Swaheli for planets. The planet is Greek for Wanderer. So that’s what we do. We wander about the country. So we move the project specifically, we do outreach, and we also work on astro-tourism. So the idea is to get game parks specifically lodges in game parks because that’s the arrangement back in Kenya to get interested and to invest in astronomy. Maybe buy a telescope, maybe buy a pair of binoculars or something. A laser pointer even, and then have that as part of their products. So they not only sell game drives, but also sell the night sky to the tourists and maybe charge a fee for each and maybe employ someone to do that, a local with local knowledge. Another part of it, a strong part of it is what we call ethno-astronomy. We know that Africans had their own stories of the night sky because they moved around using the night sky as a compass. So we want to know those stories and tourists who come to Kenya want to know those stories.

So I think it is interesting to also sell that, as part of their products of Africa. We are working to try to get dark sky certification for our local game parks. So we’ve focused on one game park called the Mara – the Masai Mara. I’m sure it’s famous. So the idea is to try and convince them to preserve the night sky and sell that as a product.

Jacinta: [00:10:05] So for some of our international listeners who might not be familiar so game parks are like Safari parks, right, where you can pay to go in and it’s a reserve for wild animals.

Carringtone: [00:10:18] Yes, exactly. Exactly that. So basically what happens is that the government first isolates areas with wild animals and forests and water views. Then they sub-lets these to private companies. At least in the Kenyan arrangement they sub-lets these to private companies who then use it as a product and pay the government some bit of money, either the government or the local government. Yeah. So that’s the arrangement,

Jacinta: [00:10:48] Right? So this is a sustainable source of income for Kenya.

Tourism is a big part of the economy. And so, you know obviously, Kenya has some of the most incredible Safari reserves in the world with just vast areas, so many animals, wild animals, just living in nature. And so of course people want to come and see this, and so why not at the same time,

Carringtone: [00:11:13] look up.

Jacinta: [00:11:14] Look up.

Carringtone: [00:11:14] Exactly. Just look up and see the beauty of it. Yeah. Most tourists to Kenya are Europeans or Americans or Australians. So most of their night sky is gone to them because of the huge cities. You think about New York, California. Think about Paris and London. So the night sky is gone for them. For this reason it will be interesting to have them look up occasionally and maybe hear the stories of other people. So most astronomy stories are by the Greeks because the Greeks wrote it down. So the Greeks tell their stories. So we would also like to document our stories and tell them to tourists. That’s part of it. Yeah.

Jacinta: [00:12:05] Do you have an example of any of these stories that you might give us a sneak preview of?

Carringtone: [00:12:09] Yeah, so the Samburu have an interesting story about what we call the Milky way galaxy. It comes from the Greek. Yeah. So in the Samburu name for it is [missing text] Nkai That is the belt of God.

So to them that was part of the clothes of God, if you will have it that way. So that’s interesting. They also have a specific name for the Orion belt. To them it’s a village. It’s a village with cows coming out. The three stars of the Orion belt. So they have their own way of looking at things and they have their own stories which we found very interesting.

Jacinta: [00:12:55] Wow, that’s amazing. It’s so fascinating to hear how the people of different cultures have come up with completely different stories and naming for the stars  and how that was a really important part of their lives.

Carringtone: [00:13:10] Yeah. You see Jacinta, you didn’t know that story. You only knew of the Greeks. Do you know any of your local stories? 

Jacinta: [00:13:18] Well I’m probably not the best person to tell the story, but, yes, I know that  the first people of Australia, the indigenous Aboriginal people, they have some various stories as well about, the night sky and one of them, when you look at the Milky way I believe the Aboriginal people focus less on the stars, what you could see with light, but actually looked at the dark patches. Yeah. And there’s like a dust lane going through the center of the Milky way, and they think that this looks like an EMU. So this was the big EMU in the sky and indeed, when you see it and you trace out the pattern, it does look like an EMU, which is of course, is a big flightless bird in Australia.

Carringtone: [00:14:01] Yeah. Yeah. So that’s interesting. So the point is to get all these stories written down and at least maybe for the locals of any community, any country, to at least know their own stories. So we are trying to do a lot of that in Kenya. We think that is important, maybe not paying but it is important.

Jacinta: [00:14:23] And so when will this project start?

Carringtone: [00:14:26] So it actually started last year, around September. That’s when we got our approval for funding. We’ve got the telescope sent and then we went to the game parks and started training the guides. We wanted them to have some basic knowledge of astronomy so that they can talk competently with the tourists.

So we trained them for a week and we went back, followed up, in February. So we are currently in talks with them. We want to formalize a formal contract because this is a private business agreement to have a formal contract where we lease the telescope to them and then we let them use it as a product with the tourists and with some form of income. We are still in discussions with them. We haven’t finalized the contract. But the local game parks, a special shout out to Governor’s camp, are very interested in learning and running the project. So we are still in talks with them. We hope this goes well.

Jacinta: [00:15:33] Oh, absolutely. And I really send my best wishes to you as well.

Carringtone: [00:15:38] Thank you

Jacinta: [00:15:38] for this. I think it’s an absolutely brilliant idea. If any of our listeners are interested in coming to visit one of these, where can they find information?

Carringtone: [00:15:51] We have a website, www.sayari.co.ke. You can shoot me an email Kinyanjuicarringtone@ gmail. I assume it will appear somewhere. Then we can have a talk. We are interested in replicating this all over Africa because Africa is usually called the dark continent and people think that’s a bad thing. It’s a wonderful thing. Yeah. So we want to replicate this in Africa, most probably start with South Africa and our neighboring countries, Uganda and Tanzania. We think it will be a beautiful thing, so that it is understood that this is a product of the African continent. I think that’s interesting.

Jacinta: [00:16:38] Of course, we’ll put those related links on our website. So any listeners who are interested can go and have a look in and just how do you spell Sayari?

Carringtone: [00:16:44] So Sayari, so that’s S -a -y- a-r-i. 

Jacinta: [00:16:52] Do you have any final messages for our listeners?

Carringtone: [00:16:54] Come to Kenya. There’s a story going around that in Kenya especially that academically trained astronomers have difficulty finding employment. There’s a problem with our tourism numbers dropping down.

So yeah, we can cry about that or we can innovate our way out of all these problems. We are human beings. Our job is to think most of the time. So we would like the young people to take up these opportunities in your respective countries. It doesn’t matter. If you’re a physics trained young person, there’s no reason why you can’t carry out this project in your country, in your local area. Just be innovative, and work your way into a solution. I’d like to thank DARA Development of Africa with Radio Astronomy for the incredible support. The organization of astronomy for development for a lot of support that went into this project. Also Professor Baki and the Technical University of Kenya, for facilitating our movement, our logistics and my personal university, The University of Nairobi, which I represent here.

I would also like to thank the government of Kenya. I’ve studied all through, using bursaries. Yeah. So I’d like to thank everybody who supported us.

Jacinta: [00:18:26] And we’d like to thank you, Carringtone for all of your efforts, for leading this project. And so congratulations to you and your team.

Thank you again, all the best. And thank you for talking with us today.

Carringtone: [00:18:39] Thank you, Jacinta. Thank you for having me.

Dan: [00:18:52] Great, thank you. I really enjoyed that.

Jacinta: [00:18:55] It was interesting, wasn’t it?

Dan: [00:18:56] It really was, and just wonderful to hear his enthusiasm. As a master student, he’s doing great stuff. And just as his aspiration to already take it beyond his own country. I mean, this is something which I would love to see happen in South Africa.

And I know there are some initiatives to begin some astro-tourism, more astro-tourism in South Africa and collect the astronomy stories in South Africa too. Some work has been done on this. There’s a great book called Venus Rising which you can download and we’ll stick a link to it on our website.

And a lot of this history has been recorded, but it’s not necessarily shared as widely as it should be and what Carringtone talks about and tries to tell these stories and communicate with people. These different understandings of the sky are really quite wonderful.

Jacinta: [00:19:52] Yeah, absolutely. And I’d love to do another episode on South Africa’s ethno-astronomy.

Dan: [00:19:57] Yeah. We should. I should give that book a solid read.

Jacinta: [00:20:00] Yeah. Well, if anyone knows a lot about this, please reach out to us because we’d love to talk to you, but off the top of your head, Dan, do you know any stories.

Dan: [00:20:08] I know of a couple. Different communities  obviously have a different understanding of the night sky.

I know in Sutherland we’ve got a small display about a boy who kind of collected the shooting stars and threw these stones up into the sky to create the stars. Which is, it’s pretty wonderful. Yeah. So we’ve got a little display about that up in Sutherland. And I mean, there’s a wealth of different understandings of the sky. The stars we used to tell the seasons obviously, and predict planting times Pleiades was very important for that. And yeah, there’s really a lot of stuff and we should definitely do an episode on it and find somebody who’s well versed in this to speak to.

Jacinta: [00:20:50] And Carringtone mentioned something about dark skies certification.

Are there any rules about that in Sutherland?

Dan: [00:20:56] So in Sutherland we do really try very hard. And in the local Southern community, there is an understanding and some obligation to keep the light to a minimum having downwards facing lights. But obviously that’s just in the local community. And more and more these days from towns as far as a hundred kilometers away, we’re starting to pick up the light pollution.

Jacinta: [00:21:20] I think you mentioned once that you can see Cape town’s light pollution from Sutherland.

Dan: [00:21:24] You can on a dark night you can see a glow in the sort of South Southwestern horizon from Cape town which is, you know, problematic and something which was very hard to deal with obviously. But again, this just speaks to the value of these dark skies and something which Africa has in abundance. The fact that you can get 400 Ks from a major city in the first place is pretty wonderful because there’s not many countries when you could do that.

So It is an important resource and one we should definitely preserve and celebrate.

Jacinta: [00:21:58] Definitely. I also loved Carringtone’s spirit of wanting to share his love of astronomy with more people, and that’s also something that our second guest Olayinka Fagbemiro is also doing. So Olayinka  is the assistant chief scientific officer at the Nigerian space agency, which is I think Africa’s first space agency. She’s also the national coordinator for Astronomers Without Borders, which is as the name suggests, an international association. You don’t just have to be an astronomer to participate in it, and it’s about teaching everybody about astronomy in the night sky. And Olayinka  is doing a lot of fabulous work to share her love of astronomy and the space science and space industry and technology with people who are never even seen or heard of a telescope before

Dan: [00:22:50] Astronomers without Borders is a wonderful project. So they run projects all around the world trying to reach as many people as they can with astronomy. And yeah, I’d love to hear what she has to say about it.

Jacinta: [00:23:01] Let’s hear from her.

Hi, we’re chatting with Olayinka Fagbemiro. Welcome Olayinka.

Olayinka [00:23:14] Hello.

Jacinta: [00:23:15] Olayinka you’re from the Nigerian space agency, is that right?

Olayinka: [00:23:19] Yes, please.

Jacinta: [00:23:20] Can you tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, and what your job is.

Olayinka: [00:23:25] Okay. Thank you. My name is Olayinka Fagbemiro. I’m an assistant chief scientific officer with the Nigerian space agency, which is a national space research and development agency in Abuja in Nigeria. I’m also the founder and national coordinator for Astronomers without Borders in Nigeria. We started in 2013 so basically what I do, but other than a space agency and as AWB is astronomy education outreach, and I’m trying to create awareness in astronomy as space science in general in Nigeria.

Jacinta: [00:24:12] You said that there’s a lack of awareness of astronomy in Nigeria. So how did you get involved in the first place?

Olayinka: [00:24:20] Okay, well, I got involved by accident. Because when I was growing up I didn’t have anyone tell me about astronomy. I didn’t know what astronomy was, but one thing that I remember vividly that as kids, we would be outside out there in the evening, and then we’ll look at the moon, we’ll look at the stars, and then we have some elderly people, mostly non-literate people telling those stories. And there was a lot of meat about astronomy, like, you know, they tell you some, you know, of course, they didn’t know this scientific, they didn’t have the scientific understanding of these things. So they just come up with stories like folklore. I don’t know, they just come out with so many funny stories.

And then they tell us those things  and growing up you had to find out, you wanted to know more, like, is this really true? For example, they would tell you things like, if there was, so, like for example, you hear stories such as an elephant and the lion fighting in the woods.

So that is why everywhere went dark all of a sudden. And then, you know I was curious, I wanted to find out as I began to grow up, and then I had more understanding and I could go and read on my own, and then I found out, wow, these things are going on! So that really made me have interest in astronomy.

And so when I found myself at the Nigerian space agency it was natural for me to just toe the line.

Jacinta: [00:26:15] So can you firstly just explain to us what the Nigerian space agency is?

Olayinka: [00:26:19] Nigerian space agency is a pioneer space agency in Africa. It started in 1999 May 15th, the founder, the government that has started the agency, wanted Nigeria to develop capabilities in space science and technology.

And so the agency was started. And over the past 20 years the agency has been involved in a lot of developmental projects and activities. They have different centers.  They do a lot of things about satellite technology and developments, satellite transport and propu    lsion, geodesy and geodynamics, basic space and atmospheric studies,  atmospheric research and a whole lot.The agency does a whole lot over the course of these years of its existence. Also, the agency has been able to launch about six satellites to date, which were done in collaboration with international organizations and countries because we have yet to develop capability in launching these satellites on home soil. So what it basically does is collaborate with China, with the United Kingdom and so on. And then they have these projects.

Jacinta: [00:27:56] Can you tell us more about what your particular role is?

Olayinka: [00:27:59] Okay, so like I said, I’m an education outreach officer. And what that means is I carry out a lot of educational activities.

We want to be able to reach out to a lot of Nigerian kids. There are millions of Nigerian kids, and we’re trying to develop the next generation of kids in Africa who are going to take over the space industry. We want to create awareness. We want kids to know about space. We want kids to know about astronomy.

And so we want them to develop interest in having careers in these fields. And also we are trying to train teachers because we know that a lot of teachers don’t even know about space science themselves because most of our curricula do not have space science or astronomy as subjects in elementary and high schools.

So we’re training teachers, we’re training kids. We are popularizing astronomy. We are popularizing space science and technology. That is what we do. That is what I do.

Jacinta: [00:29:17] Wonderful. I mean, it’s obviously really important and like you said, there’s a lot of kids who don’t know about it and who could know about it.

We need the next generation of people trained so that they can take over. Right. So now  you said that you also founded The Astronomy Without Borders Nigeria in 2013 what’s that about?

Olayinka: [00:29:40] Okay. Thank you very much. Astronomy without borders is a global body, the president is Mike Simmons from the United States.

I think he started the organization. And then over the years we have different countries skinning into that and like the names are just like a community of astronomers from all around the world. So in 2013 I met Mike Siemens at the conference in Germany. Before AWB was funded, I was already into how to share activities. So it was really easy for me to transit into AWB. And since inception, we have been able to reach out to thousands of kids. I work with a team of young and enthusiastic scientists and engineers from Nigeria. Our passion and motivation is to see the next generation of African kids of Nigerian kids getting to know more about astronomy and getting to pick up careers in astronomy as they grew up.

Jacinta: [00:30:53] What are the sort of projects that you do as part of astronomy without borders, Nigeria

Olayinka: [00:30:57] Good. So we have a lot of projects that we do. The most popular being the astronomy outreach. Which means we go outside, we go on the streets, we go to schools, we go to places of worship. We are literally everywhere creating awareness about astronomy. We have telescopes, which we take out. And a lot of kids have not seen telescopes in their lives. So, when we go out and then we carry the telescopes, we are able to excite them, because when they see telescopes, and then we use that as an opportunity to teach them.

Also we train teachers because there are millions of kids in Nigeria, and then the membership of AWB is such that we will never be able to cover all the grant. So we started this idea of training the trainers where we train science teachers and then they go and turn back to the school to train their kids, their pupils. Also we have some gender based projects like the girls astronomy camp because in Nigeria a lot of girls are out of school and then there is this gender gap in STEM education in Nigeria. So, we started this project, which we focused on the girls to make sure they are not left behind.

Also, we key into some international astronomical events. For example, if we have a solar eclipse or Lunar Eclipse or any of such activities, we organize events around that event. We organize programs in Nigeria around such events, and then we invite people and we have  astronomy outreach with them as well.

Jacinta: [00:33:18] Are there any messages you’d like to share with our listeners?

Olayinka: [00:33:22] Yes. First and foremost I want to say that kids are genuinely excited about astronomy everywhere in the world. Astronomy is very exciting. It’s very interesting. And a lot of kids can relate to how interesting and exciting it is to just look up at the sky and then you’re able to see stars and are able to see the moon.

You know, it’s really a very good thing. You don’t need to push too hard before you get kids to be interested in astronomy. And that’s what we’ve been trying to do in the interior. You know, we go out on the streets and then we see kids and by the time we are setting up our telescope before we are done setting up, you see a lineup of kids already waiting because they are curious.

Kids are naturally curious, so they want to know. So what is this? And then also, I think Africa has arguably the best night skies in the world because most of our villages and towns don’t have the problem of light pollution. So it’s very easy to see things as opposed to people in the city centers where there’s light pollution or so like if I go on outreach to the villages, I just tell them, you guys think you don’t have electricity and so you are sad, but why not look at it this way. You have this beautiful night sky that without the aids of any device, you’re able to look up and you could see the craters on the moon. So I think it’s a good one. And then I want to encourage as many astronomas or astronomy interests. Yes. In Africa too please let us reach out to kids.

 So that we have this next generation of African kids who are already aware of what astronomy is and already to take off careers because whether we like it or not, we are going to retire someday and then who is going to take over? So we need to put in more effort into astronomy education in Africa.

Thank you.

Jacinta: [00:35:50] Yeah. I mean, thank you so much for speaking with us today, Olayinka. I think that the work you’re doing is so incredibly important and congratulations to you and to all of  your team members, and good luck for it in the future.

Olayinka: [00:36:03] Thank you very much.

Dan: [00:36:16] Great stuff. I didn’t know Nigeria had a space agency nevermind the first one. 

Jacinta: [00:36:20] A well established one launching its own satellite.

Dan: [00:36:22] Yeah. That’s incredible very exciting. Nigeria is a big country and I’m glad they’re supporting this sort of stuff.

Jacinta: [00:36:28] Absolutely.

Dan: [00:36:29] And also the astronomers without borders work she’s doing is wonderful.

It’s another one of these great ways in which we’re trying to reach as many people as possible. And it’s wonderful that these organizations existed. If you’d like to support them, you can actually, if you go to the astronomers without borders website. Astronomers without borders.org which is quite easy, uh, you can donate and support these programs.

They have a list of the programs that they’re running in future programs that they will run. So you can see what they’re doing and how it’s having an effect. 

Jacinta: [00:37:00] And we didn’t get much chance to go into a lot of detail with Olayinka about the exact projects that she’s running. She’s just such a driven person and they’re so passionate and just so much, so much stuff that they’re doing.

And I loved what she was saying about taking out a telescope and the kids had never seen it before and they were wildly excited to have a look through it.

Dan: [00:37:23] Yeah. That’s one of the great things about astronomy and not just what you see through a telescope. I think. So many people you encounter have never looked through a telescope before.

It almost doesn’t matter what they’re looking at. Even if you pointed at an earth bound object, people are excited. It’s quite a thing to see that sort of magnification.

Jacinta: [00:37:41] Yeah. And Olyainka made a really good point that we really need to put more effort into astronomy education in Africa. And I thought it was really interesting how both her and Carringtone got interested in astronomy by complete accident.

Dan: [00:37:55] I think it’s surprising how often that happens. Unfortunately, I did not. I was, I was very interested,

Jacinta: [00:38:02] as we heard in a previous episode, it was directly handed to me in a book.

Dan: [00:38:07] but a lot of people have stumbled into astronomy. It’s not one of those things where people hear enough about, you don’t hear about it as a child, as a possible career path, and to some degree that falls on us.

And that’s kind of the stuff we’re trying to do here is show people what people are doing in astronomy. All of the varied careers people are involved, and then how you can be involved in astronomy. And if that can get through to young children, then maybe they will see astronomy as a career option.

Jacinta: [00:38:37] Yeah, and also that Africa excels at astronomy. It’s something that we can all be proud of.

Dan: [00:38:45] Absolutely and grow. I think it’s growing very, very fast and there’s a lot of growth to happen in Africa. It’s a very exciting place to be.

Jacinta: [00:38:55] That’s why I’m here.

Dan: [00:38:57] Yeah, it’s true. There’s a massive pull right now to African astronomy.

Great. And we will have links to all of the websites we’ve mentioned, the projects on the website. So if you’d like to find out more, if you’d like to donate, you can do so. And we’ll post those links.

Jacinta: [00:39:14]  I think that’s it for today, right?

Dan: [00:39:18] Yeah. Thanks again for listening and we hope you’ll join us again on the next episode of the cosmic Savannah.

Jacinta: [00:39:24] You can visit our website, the cosmic savannah.com where we’ll have links related to today’s episode, and you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at Cosmic Savannah. That’s Savannah, spelled S. a. v. a. n. n. a. h.

Dan: [00:39:37] Special thanks to our guests today, Carringtone Kinyanjul and Olayinka Fagbemiro

Jacinta: [00:39:43] Thanks to Mark Allnut for music production.

Janus Brink for astrophotography. Lana Ceraj for graphic design and for social media support.

Dan: [00:39:51] We gratefully acknowledge the support of the South African National Research Foundation and the South African Astronomical Observatory to help keep the podcast running.

Jacinta: [00:39:58] You can subscribe on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Please rate and review us and recommend us to a friend

Dan: [00:40:06] and we’ll speak to you next time on The Cosmic Savannah.

Jacinta: [00:40:17] Coming up on The Cosmic Savannah.

I would like to say, especially to young girls, because in South Africa, most of the guys do astronomy and they think that it can’t do anything, but as these girls we can change the world of astronomy. And you have the power to do that in astronomy a lot of things where you would want to move and you can explore a lot.