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Ghana’s first radio telescope is the start of a continent-wide project to capture the complete Afric

Ghana launched its first radio astronomy observatory on Thursday in an effort to widen knowledge of African skies, catalyze skills development, and attract scientists. A 32-meter wide (104-foot) radio telescope, converted from an old telecommunications dish, forms the heart of the observatory, which is in Kuntunse, about an hour from the capital Accra.

Previously a mainstay of communication on and from the continent, large telecommunications dishes have been made redundant since the introduction of undersea cables down Africa’s coasts. Astronomers are eyeing these dishes with plans to turn them into radio telescopes. Ghana’s dish, donated to the government by Vodafone, is the first of a number of planned conversions.

Ultimately, these dishes will form a web of telescopes, known as the African VLBI Network. With its widely spaced dishes, the network will be able to observe the skies that straddle the southern and northern hemispheres, and provide a training ground for scientists and engineers on the continent. Full Story


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