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2019 Candidate Statements - Africa
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Statement from IPS Board Candidate in the Africa Region

Please vote even though there is only one candidate; ballot available 1 Oct 2019.

Susan Murabana Owen

photo of Susan Murabana Owen

I am a planetarian and managing director of the Travelling Telescope.

I started using a digital, mobile planetarium in 2013 and since then children and adults in Kenya who had never experienced this virtual world have now experienced it. I have been to many schools and public spaces educating people about the wonders of our universe. So far we have reached thousands of students and hundreds of schools in Kenya and Tanzania and we are now in the process of completing our fixed dome in the heart of Nairobi.

I have recently been elected as the president of the newly-formed African Planetarium Association (APA), and through this one of my aims is to encourage content creation from Africa to share with the rest of the world.

One of the main points I want to emphasise is how science—and particularly astronomy and space science—can inform us about the current state of our planet, (the most obvious being satellite observations) and how, combined with engineering, it can lead to solutions and problem solving. We always have a section in our show where we talk about the Apollo 8 ‘”Earthrise” photo and how this led to the environmentalism movement. To encourage this approach, we are building the frame of our new planetarium out of bamboo—a much greener alternative to the traditional, more energy intensive standard of steel.

I want to see more of the emerging communities taking up leadership roles across the world because there are a lot of interesting stories from these communities, which could help shape the future of the IPS.

Our planetarium was one of the main exhibits at the second United Nations Environment Assembly UNEA meeting in Nairobi, where we had head of states and other ministers visiting the planetarium. We had the director of UNEA, Dr. Mae Jemeson (first African American female astranaut), Rakesh Shamar (first Indian astronaut) and Mark SubbaRao talk about various topics related to climate change inside. We feel this had a great impact on all who came.

Nominated by: African Planetarium Association

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