Archives for posts with tag: Astronomy

Ageing satellite dishes, once the backbone of Africa’s telecommunications system, are being given a new lease of life as radio telescopes.

The thrifty project aims to boost the skills of the continent’s scientists as Africa prepares to host the US$2.1 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA), set to be the world’s most powerful radio telescope when it is completed in the mid-2020s. In May, the SKA project leaders decided that Africa, with South Africa at the helm, would split the array with Australia and New Zealand . The SKA will detect radiation from the early Universe, giving clues to how the first stars and galaxies formed.

This antenna in Kuntunse, Ghana, is in line for an upgrade.

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 Thirty years ago radioastronomy did not exist. Astronomers gathered their information, as they had for three centuries, through optical telescopes. Methods had of course become much more refined and the instruments had grown enormously since Galileo first poked a small brass tube filled with two glass lenses in the direction of Jupiter and the moon to see what he could see; but telescopes remained effective only in penetrating the optical window of the earth’s atmosphere—that part of the spectrum in the visible region between the ultra violet and the infra red to which our eyes are sensitive.