The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Department of Physics made a landmark contribution to the astronomy and space science field in Ghana with its first-ever conference from October 31st to November 2nd, 2023. The event, under the theme "Exploring the Potentials of Astronomy & Space Science in Ghana: Challenges, Progress, and Future Prospects for Sustainable Development," brought together a diverse group of stakeholders, offering a vibrant platform for sharing knowledge, discussing challenges and opportunities, and strategising the advancement of these sciences in Ghana.
Empowering the Next Generation of Astronomers
The conference stood out for its commitment to nurturing talent, supporting 16 students from various Ghanaian universities, chosen from over 100 applicants. This initiative underlined the growing interest among Ghanaian students in space sciences and the need for dedicated educational programs to foster this enthusiasm.
Keynote speakers included Dr. Joseph Tandoh, Director of the Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute, who highlighted collaboration opportunities and ongoing projects. Prof. James O. Chibueze, an astronomy professor from the University of South Africa, provided insights into current trends in the field.
The event also featured enriching presentations by renowned figures such as Prof. Melvin Hoare from the University of Leeds, Dr. Emmanuel-Proven Adziri of the Ghana Radio Astronomy Observatory, Mr. Solomon Appekey, the founder and CEO of Xavier Space Solutions and some facilitators from Tunisian National Space Agency (TUNSA) and WCRC. The presence of esteemed faculty members like Prof. Reuben Y. Tamakloe, Prof. Francis K. Ampong, Prof. Eric K. K. Abavare, and Dr. Akyana Britwum added significant value to the discussions.
Interactive Workshops and Sessions
Over the subsequent days, attendees immersed themselves in interactive sessions covering Python programming, fundamentals of astronomy (with a focus on radio astronomy using tabletop radio telescopes), astronomy data reduction techniques, building experimental satellites/CubeSats, and career development pathways in astronomy and space science.
These sessions were expertly facilitated by Prof. James O. Chibueze, Dr. Jeffrey N.A. Aryee from the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science, Mr. Albert Forson, Mr. Solomon Appekey, Ms. Jemimah Kwakuyi, and Mr. Jake Yawson.
Acknowledgements and Future Outlook
This pioneering conference was made possible through the support of the Provost of the College of Science, KNUST, the former and current head of the Department of Physics, KNUST, Prof. Melvin Hoare of the University of Leeds, Xavier Space Solutions, and the Republic Hall, KNUST.
As the event concluded, there was a shared sentiment of accomplishment and anticipation. The conference highlighted the significant interest in astronomy and space science among Ghanaian students and emphasized the critical need to develop degree programs that can cultivate this interest into valuable expertise for the nation's development in these fields.