Jimma University’s Space Science and Astronomy

Ethiopian space science society was established in 2004, with 47 founding members. It is a non-profitable organization constitutes of members from Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Science and Technology, and the related field of professionals as well as individual and institutional members interested in the above fields. The society has more than 10,000 individual members, 28 branches associations, 52 institutional members, and 100 school space clubs.

Ethiopian Space Science Society of Jimma branch is established in Jimma University as a department at the College of Natural and Computational Sciences. Ethiopian Space Science Society (Jimma branch) and the Department of Physics (JU) in collaboration with the College of Natural and Computational Sciences have conducted a half-day mini science conference on March 12, 2021. The main objective of the conference was to create a platform for sharing ideas on basic science education, research and to address the way forwards for its implementation. Furthermore, it was aimed to coordinate and mobilize the existing opportunities, platforms, and professions to plan visions and convert them to practice. The conference’s motivational presentation themes were designed to communicate the objectives of the conference to the audience. Especially,

  • Science education and research motivations,

  • Collaborations for education and research across different disciplines,

  • School and community outreach attachment programs such as STEM and

  • Females' participation in science education and the way forwards; were given due attention in the selection of the themes.

Astronomy and space science perspectives in Ethiopia and across the globe have been considered as the main themes.

Jimma University’s Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Tadesse Habtamu, opened the conference with a remarkable message that Astronomy is an exploration of all generations in all time that should be used in science education, philosophy, discovery, and so on. Ethiopian cultural astronomy needs attention since it has great contributions to space science. Moreover, its applications for the global socio-economic developments in general, which enhances the Ethiopian Space Science development program in particular. Therefore, he concluded, Jimma University is willing to support the plans presented and urged initiators to go forward with the plans progressively.

The roles and contributions of Jimma University in Astronomy and Space science development in Ethiopia are presented by Professor Ketema Bacha, ESSS Jimma branch V/Chairperson. He addressed the contributions of Jimma University for the development of Astronomy and Space science in Ethiopia that includes: launching a postgraduate program in the field, launching the ESSS branch (chapter), closely working with the society, organizing awareness creation seminars, and establishing and strengthening school clubs. Jimma University is among the pioneers who have worked for the establishment of ESSTI, Professional collaboration in project conceptualization and execution such as Entoto observatory and Lalibela optical/infrared site testing, according to Professor Ketema Bacha.

 

Solomon Haile-Mariyam, ESSS Jimma Branch Executive Committee secretary, a Ph.D. candidate in Physics and Dr. Solomon Negash, ESSS Jimma Branch Executive Committee member and Assistant Professor of Physics at JU have presented the overall view of Ethiopian Space Science Society and the current development of Astronomy and Space science perspectives in Ethiopia that includes;

  • Historical perspectives of Astronomy and Space science in Ethiopia: pre-&-post ESSS establishment perspectives

  • Establishment of ESSS,

  • ESSS objectives,

  • ESSS activities and achievements,

  • Jimma Branch, ESSS overall historical establishment and achievements,

  • Current status of Space Science and Astronomy developments in Ethiopia

Their presentations were highly supported with review literature, photos, and videos in an entertaining fashion.

 

Moreover, Bikila Teshome, Abdissa Tessema, and Jifar lecturers of the Physics department at JU have presented the concept of Space Science and Astronomy progress including its global contributions to science, technology, and socio-economic developments. The presentation of these young Astrophysicists was so sensational that the audiences were exceedingly impressed. The presentation has addressed a wide range of astronomy and space science progress, developments, and its applications. Further, the presentation also underscored that a nation is considered as globally developed in science, technology, and socio-economic per se if and only if these sciences are in effect. The main presentation points include:

  • Astronomy and Space Science Progress

  • Space Mission and Development Program

  • Space Exploration Delivers Benefits

  • Advances in Science and Technology

  • The contribution of Space Science in technology

  • Socio-economic and security

The conference has also hailed with school students presentations. Some selected students from three different schools (JU Community School, Jiren Secondary School, and SOS Herman Gmeiner Secondary School) of grades 9-11 have participated with their own presentations. School teachers and ESSS members assisted the selection of both students and their presentations.

The main topics of the students were:

  • Progress of physics,

  • History, growth, objectives, the mission and vision of ESSS and ESSTI,

  • Geometry of the universe,

  • Definitions and explanations about Astronomy and Astrophysics

The video presentation includes key space exploration events. It highlights sequential events
in modern space explorations that began from Sputnik I to the undergoing Mars mission. Its aim was to motivate the youth students towards science education, research and applications
for their future career.

 

Finally, the future plan, discussions, feedbacks, and the way forwards have been made. Actually, the main objective of the conference gyrates around this topic. The conference’s core theme is to address the actual plan of the department and the cooperating stakeholders. It has been used as a tool to create the platform to bring stakeholders together to share ideas and enforce them to commitments for the realization of envisions of the plans. Explicitly, it is difficult to discourse the storyline how the motivation conceived this plan and the subsequent activities to stage.

But, concerned individuals at the physics department and elsewhere at CNSs college and others observed to raise concern; why not the professions at hand is mobilized to do an effective and fruitful work within the community. There have been always pros-and-cons, as it is common wherever and whenever across the rest of the world. Nevertheless, in our context (Ethiopian) it worsens mainly because of a lack of a system. Departments always seek external motivation rather than develop systems that will lead to work such programs. Cognizant of this fact, the JU physics department, through its streams determined to work out the pros-and-cons to materialize its professional capacity to invest an effective and fruitful work within the community.

Consequently, the department has identified key activities that can be done through the department and in collaboration with other departments, the college, university, and other stakeholders including concerned bodies at the national and international levels. The presentation has addressed the future plan of the department. The main programs of the plan are Astronomy and Space Science program, Physics research, scientific conferences, collaboration and presentations program, Science education and outreach program, and Females’ participation enhancement program in STEM. The plan has been prepared and presented by Dr. Menberu Mengesha and Dr. Tolu Biressa.

Source: Dr. Tolu Biressa

 

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