Kenya is situated on the equator, meaning that it's present in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres. Through the powerful computerised telescope, guests can spot a broader range of constellations found in each. The equator is also the best location to view the planets and the moon, as they pass directly overhead here. This means that the views through the telescope are less affected by the atmosphere wobbling the light, providing the sharpest sights possible.
During The Travelling Telescope experience, experts educate visitors about the new scientific findings as well as the rich history of ‘traditional sky knowledge’ in Kenya. A favourite in African folklore focuses on the phases of the moon, the importance of its repeating and ‘regeneration’.
The phases of the moon were thought to be synonymous with the concept of reincarnation. This belief was honoured by tribesmen during their hunting trips, trusting that if one looked directly at the moon after shooting their target with a poison arrow, it would allow the prey to recover and escape. Participants can drive the powerful and computerised telescope across that surface of the moon that the hunters honoured so greatly, tracing its pits, peaks, and ancient lava fields.
Planets that are visible to the naked eye can also be seen through the Travelling Telescope - Jupiter and its ever-changing moons with oceans under the ice of Europa; Saturn and its complex rings; the surrounding deep skies where stars form in stellar nurseries.
The Travelling Telescope was originally founded to help school children learn more about the infinite worlds above them. By bringing the stars and planets closer to boys and girls living in both rural and urban areas, the founder hoped to ‘promote the importance of science and technology in Kenya.’ The mission was 'to take the telescope to people who can’t come to us.' Giving children access to a telescope is not about getting everyone one of them to become an astronomer. It is rather about giving them opportunities “that will make or change the decisions of what they want to do”.
After the incredible success of this initial project, the telescope is now available for the guests of Elewana to experience, so they get to view the night sky from a corner of the world they’ve never seen before.
All images courtesy of The Travelling Telescope