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Nov 07

Camera Test, Observation, Movie Night

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - November 5, 2019 On the afternoon of November 1, Zacharia Mjungu 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. 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 hosted movie night with my...

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Nov 07

Camera Test, Observation, Movie Night

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - November 5, 2019 On the afternoon of November 1, Zacharia Mjungu 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. 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 hosted movie night with my... Read More...

Nov 05

Introducing the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory website!

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - October 29, 2019 at 11:22 PM I am pleased to announce the completion of the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory website: https://mmao.space/ All stories and updates posted on Facebook over the past six months are now provided in a clean, chronological format at the MMAO website. We will be adding new content on a regular basis, and soon, a calendar of events. With the start of November, we will launch a brief fund raising campaign intended to bring to MMAO a number of advanced teaching tools such as the components required to build water rockets, a 3D printer,... Read More...

Oct 14

Rain, rain, go away!

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - October 10, 2019 at 5:22 PM Please come back some other day! Miss our updates? So do we ... the dry season in Tanzania seems to be a bit ... wet. Don't give up, we'll have clear skies again soon! View Kai's Facebook page here . Read More...

Oct 04

Physics Students Conduct an Experiment at the Observatory

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 28 at 10:26 PM Zacharia shares the following, "This week, the Ailanga Form 3 and 4 physics teacher asked me 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 students to the observatory to show them the video which led us into a very good discussion. 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!" Tonight they watched the 5th episode... Read More...

Oct 04

Successful Third Drift Test at the Observatory

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 28, 2019 at 9:30 PM 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... Read More...

Sep 26

A Special Message from Supremo Doley

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 19, 2019 at 11:23 PM Its wonderful to our school Ailanga.. Feeling proudie and blessed.... Let GOD BE GLORIFIED FOREVER AND EVERY AMEN... < Search templates (CTRL+Space) New Template Read More...

Sep 25

Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory Hosted a Group of American Visitors

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 19, 2019 at 10:08 PM 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. Search templates (CTRL+Space) New Template Read More...

Sep 25

Students at Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory Assemble Spectrographs

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 19, 2019 at 10:05 PM 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 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.... Read More...

Sep 12

A Letter from Astronomy Ambassador Eliatosha

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 11, 2019 at 11:54 PM 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 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... Read More...

Sep 09

Importance of Good Recordkeeping in Science

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 7, 2019 at 3:43 AM Wednesday, September 4, Zacharia and Pendaeli opened the observatory for a survey of four stars. The goal was to establish how far off the RA axis of rotation is due to the remaining, incomplete alignment of the telescope. If we had just one night with more than an hour of clear skies after sunset, we'd have this done and move on. But such is astronomy. For all the understanding of the workings of the world, we do not (yet) control the weather (which is probably a good thing). I have... Read More...

Sep 09

Astronomy Ambassador Elineema Reflects

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 7, 2019 at 3:22 AM Elineema Nassary describes the thirty days of our working together as follows. "I experienced many things during the mounting of 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. 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... Read More...

Sep 02

First Double Star Viewed!

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - September 1, 2019 Two nights ago Zacharia and Pendaeli attended the observatory in order to establish four stars in the "home" position of the 12" telescope for both RA setting circle and drift alignment tests.The following is Zacharia's summary of the observation session: We learned that RA setting circle matches exactly to our clocks when we were tracking stars. That's awesome for us because we didn't know before! And noted ... objects drift off the center ... another test to be done soon. We selected four stars: Antares, Acrab (a double star), Dschubba, and... Read More...

Aug 31

A Letter from Astronomy Ambassador Zacharia

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 29, 2019 at 3:27 PM From the airport in Nairobi, I reached out to the ambassadors asking for their experience in the thirty days working to bring our observatory to life. This just in from Zacharia Mjungu, a teacher at Ailanga, one of the astronomy ambassadors. Edits are in , per his request. "Here is my story I can tell, for the past one month working in the observatory. It has been a great opportunity to me that everyone was involved ... given chance no matter the background or whatever the case may be. I... Read More...

Aug 29

Asante Sana Chuck & Sue Ruehle, Kai Staats, and Astronomers Without Borders

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 26, 2019 at 4:25 AM In the summer of 2010 Sue and Chuck Ruehle traveled from Wisconsin to Northern Tanzania, and brought with them three 50mm Galileoscopes. Traveling and living between six and eight thousand feet they stayed in the villages of Mulala, Kilinga, and Kyuta. From this location on the side of Mt. Meru (4,566 meters) they enjoyed viewing the dark skies, they also visited Ngarenanyuki and Songoro secondary schools, sharing their passion for astronomy. These two schools and the Mulala community each received a telescope and tripod, two modern eyepieces, and other astronomy materials.... Read More...

Aug 29

Working Hand-in-Hand For a Common Goal Builds Strong Connections

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 25, 2019 at 2:52 AM Yesterday, Saturday, August 24 saw an even more engaged venture than Friday, from mid morning 'till 3 am when the taxi took me to the Kilimanjaro airport. At 11 am Elineema, Thomas and I went to town to trade a like-new inkjet printer for a simpler, more robust laser. We have come to rely on the hilarious and incredibly engaging stationary shop owner Miqdad. During our prior visit (Thursday) we enjoyed fresh bananas and juice while his employee located a large plastic tarp, tool box, and RAM for Zacharia's laptop. He... Read More...

Aug 29

Busy Day to Finish Items on the ToDo List

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 23, 2019 at 11:59 PM Yesterday was a whirlwind, go-go-go attempt to cross off as many final items from our TODO list. We returned to the issue of "play" in the RA arm and axis of rotation, reducing it considerably with a tighter configuration of the friction clutch and application of nuts on the back of the rear plate. We yet need to return to the front plate and insert brass bushings, but this will require a proper mill and press, and more time. We will engage the Arusha Technical University for this endeavor later this... Read More...

Aug 29

Reflections - This Is Just the Beginning!

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 22, 2019 at 11:46 PM Today (Friday) is my second to last day in Tanzania. Sunday morning I fly to Cape Town, South Africa where I will reside for ~2 weeks, working from an apartment and the South African Astronomical Observatory. I will miss this place like never before, for here at the base of Mt. Meru I have found a new home. Rev. Majola, Chairman Thomas Mbise, and astronomy ambassadors Elineema, Eliona, Pandaeli, Zacharia and Eliatosha have become good friends in addition to colleagues and conspirators in all that we do to improve science education... Read More...

Aug 29

A Busy Day at Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 22, 2019 at 11:28 PM Yesterday saw a whirlwind of activity, morning 'till night. Zacharia was successful in his first installation of Ubuntu and installation of the ExFAT 'fuse' driver. You know you have a true geek in the making when you get a high-five following first use of the command line! He then copied ~200GB of data from a shared backup drive and is up and running, with LibreOffice a welcomed replacement for Microsoft's monopoly on this part of the world. Thomas, Zacharia and I went to Arusha to purchase a plastic tarp to protect... Read More...

Aug 26

Kai Rebuilds More Telescopes

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 21, 2019 at 12:55 PM Today Eliatosha, Eliona and I rebuilt the 3" Celestron refractor and a smaller, longer focal length Meade refractor telescope. It took a few hours to fully disassemble, clean the lenses, and put them together again. But the end result, the Celestron in particular, is stunning. The quality of the image is simply magical. Then we tested a dozen eye pieces in each telescope, finding the ideal combination. For the Celestron, in fact, the Celestron brand 25mm and 12mm eye pieces delivered the best image. In the Meade, with a noted lower... Read More...

Aug 26

Group Completes Work at Organization for Science Education and Observatory at Ailanga Secondary School

by Kai Staats

AWB Update - August 20, 2019 at 11:53 AM Today we completed the sorting and cleaning of the Organization for Science Education and Observatory (OSEO) at Ailanga Secondary School, taking all tripods, telescopes, and eye pieces to the observatory for cleaning and repair. We watched three videos on using the "drift method" to complete the alignment of our telescope, but were once again foiled with cloud cover this evening, only a few start pushing through from time to time. We cleaned and validated operation of all four OSEO laptops, and will tomorrow install Ubuntu Linux on one of them, one... Read More...