Ghana Planetarium Science Project

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There is a severe shortage of interactive hands-on science centres in East, West and Central Africa, and very few active planetariums in the whole continent. There are planetariums in South Africa, a few in North Africa, and little else in between. From a background of teaching Biochemistry to university students and a range of other activities, Dr Jacob Ashong has had a dream to create a science centre and planetarium in Ghana for a number of years. Part of the inspiration came from a visit to the Exploratorium in San Francisco in the 1980's, and later from centres nearer home such as the Science Centre in Herstmonceux, Sussex, UK, located at the site where the Royal Greenwich Observatory was housed for many years after its move from London. Up until 2006 a shortage of funds and lack of a suitable space made it difficult to proceed with the Ghana Science Project, but in 2008, the planetarium project became a reality with the help of Planetarium Director Dave Weinrich from America who offered his expertise. By his efforts, an offer of a refurbished digital projector was made by an Audio Visual Engineering company in America. Jacob now had a space in a large garden, in a surprisingly tranquil location not far from the bustling city centre of Accra, and after researching dome designs in various parts of the world and talking to structural engineers, in March 2008, on Independence Day, he started to construct the building to house the projector that would deliver the planetarium shows. By Easter 2008, foundations, floor and walls had been constructed and work was due to begin on the domed roof. As the dome structure took shape, Dave Weinrich visited in June and initiated our first "domecast" with participants across the globe. After a few problems with the roof covering had been solved, the building was finished in September 2008 and we started to have visits by groups of children in October. Our first volunteer, Laura, also came for six weeks to help run the shows.

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