Ethiopia starts looking at the stars - from a nearly perfect location

For young people there is no limit, and in Addis Ababa dreams fly about classrooms with as much abandon as anywhere else in the world.

Seventeen year-old Meron Mekonnen wants to be a particle physicist. Demekel Demto a rocket scientist. Dagem Teresse is interested in inventing things and wants to become a robotics engineer.

Mekonnen is quick to note that Einstein was young when he published his Theory of Relativity, a 26 year-old university student. A single equation of his “changed the history of science,” she points out: “I have plenty of thoughts…”

Today’s youth are always told to reach for the stars. But thanks to the country’s first space observatory, some Ethiopians might just get there.

The real sky scanners
One of two reflective one-meter telescopes, pictured in the grounds of The Entoto Observatory and Research Center.
One of two reflective one-meter telescopes, pictured in the grounds of The Entoto Observatory and Research Center.
Located in the hills outside of the capital, the Entoto Observatory and Research Center is propelling the nation forward in Africa’s space race.

Three thousand two hundred meters above sea level, the observatory is an integral part of a programme launched by the Ethiopian Space Science Society (ESSS). An independent organization established in 2004, it is keen to utilize the station’s unique location and ability to observe practically all the sky — both northern and southern hemispheres.

“You can see almost anything,” explains 24 year-old engineer Ghion Ashenavi. “We have taken images of galaxies, stars, clusters, moons, planets and many celestial objects… In the future we are planning to take more… this [telescope] is capable of doing so many things.”

 

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