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Under African Skies

Kevin Hand


Dear Cosmos Education Sponsors, Board Members, and Supporters;

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the Cosmos Education 2001 Under African Skies Eclipse Conference and Education Expedition was a great success.

Our international team of graduate students, educators, and young professionals travelled safely from Johannesburg, South Africa to Nairobi, Kenya over the course of our 39 day trek. The team was composed of individuals from eleven different countries - The Republic of South Africa, The Republic of Tanzania, Burundi, The Niger Republic, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, The United States, The United Kingdom, Croatia, and (briefly) Japan. Along the way we visited over 27 schools and spoke to more than 3,500 students and teachers. Schools ranged from the primary school level to high schools and included the range from well-funded private schools to run-down rural schools.

In addition to the Education Expedition, our three-day Eclipse Conference in Lusaka, Zambia drew over 500 attendees. The conference was filled with a fantastic diversity of presentations and performances. The Zambian Minister of Science and Technology gave the opening speech, followed by a host of great talks including one by Dr. Mazlan Othman on the peaceful uses of outer space and one by Professor W. U. Reimold on asteroid impacts, science, and conservation in Africa.

Highlights from the second day of the conference included a talk on prospects for alternative energy and a talk on the myths and legends of the Cosmos in African history.

Day three was of course the day of the solar eclipse, but prior to the beginning of the eclipse we had a performance by the University of Zambia Theater Group and the Lusaka Players. The actors portrayed the events surrounding the total solar eclipse of 1835 during which the Ngoni tribe was crossing the Zambezi river to settle in what is now Zambia. After the performance, awards were given to secondary school students and eclipse glasses were distributed to conference attendees and the public. The eclipse itself was beyond words.

After the conference, our entire team was treated to a celebratory breakfast hosted by Eric Tilenius. The meal was great and much appreciated by our exhausted team.

We are still in the process of tabulating our numbers and statistics for the entire 2001 Under African Skies project. All of this information will be provided in our annual project report. This report is currently being compiled and we expect it to be mailed in October. Simultaneously, we are working on updating our web site to include the best pictures and stories from our travels (http://www.cosmoseducation.org).

On behalf of our entire team, I would like to thank you all for your incredible support and committment to this project.

Please feel free to contact me at this email address or at (+1) 415-377-9053 if you have any questions or need any information prior to the distribution of our annual report.


Mail to: Kevin Hand
Copyright © 2001 San Jose Astronomical Association
Last updated: July 19, 2007

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