Astronomy activities in Rwanda.

Welcome to the web page of the

Rwandan Astronomy National node.


Up coming events: 

  Fourth East African Astronomy  workshop.

30 June - 4 July  2014


Past events:

 Galileo teacher training: Workshop on the use of the galileoscope in Rwandan high schools (31 January - 01 February 2013).

Click here

 Visit of Prof. Laurent Drissen (21-30 August 2011)

0. What will  you find on this page?     

1. Contacts

2. International Year of Astronomy in Rwanda

3  Situation of Astronomy/Astrophysics in Rwanda

4. Developing Astronomy in Rwanda: Vision, Mission, Objectives and Actions

5. Activities during 2009

6. News & events

7. Useful links:

-Bursaries in Astronomy/Astrophysics

-Bursaries at African Institute of Mathematical Sciences

-Notes for Students: Oscillations and Waves




1. About us: Contacts    

Single Point of Contact:

Dr. Pheneas Nkundabakura

Postal Address:
Kigali Institute of Education (KIE)
P.O. Box 5039

Phone: +250 78 55 17 032
URL: or

Members of the National Organising comittee for IYA2009 and  Beyond-IYA2009 in Rwanda:

1. Dr Pheneas Nkundabakura (Chair person), (Astrophysics) <>

2. Dr Jean Uwamahoro (Secretary), (Space  Physics) <>

3. Mr Jean Claude Kubwimana (member), PhD student (Cosmology)<>

4. Mr Francois Nsengiyumva  (member), PhD student (Plasma Physics) <>

5.  Mr MUTESA Albert  (member), UNESCO-RWANDA(RCNU)<>

6. Dr Baziruwiha Jean de Dieu (member), Lecturer,  KIE, <>

7. Mr Erigene Rutayisire (member), Student, KIE,  <>

Click here recommendation_letter_from_IAU to view  the Act of recognition of the IYA/Rwanda commission by the International Astronomical Union and by the IYA secretariat.

 I. About International Year of Astronomy in Rwanda:                     

      Year 2009: International Year of Astronomy

By P. Nkundabakura, J. Uwamahoro, C. Kubwimana and F. Nsengiyumva 

(Click here to read the french version iya_article_fr.pdf )

The present article and others which will follow intend to inform the Rwandan public in particular the Rwandan scientific community on activities which will take place during next year 2009 which has been declared International Year of Astronomy.

 Since the ancient times people have observed stars and wondered about their place in the universe. Some early civilisations considered the Sun as the giver of life and worshipped it, while for other cultures, crops were planted according to the celestial calender (e.g. phases of the moon). In addition, the writings tell us that around 3000 B.C., the Babylonians beleived that the positions and motions of celestial bodies influenced the fate of human life. Although without scientific basis, this astrology stimulated the study and recording of celestial bodies and phenomena. The invention of the telescope in early 17th century revolutionalised astronomy, which is considered as the oldest among all sciences.

   1609-2009: 400th anniversary of the first use of the telescope by Galileo Galilei




  The year 2009 have been declared International Year of Astronomy(here after for short IYA2009) by the United Nations in its 62
nd General Assembly (Resolution: 62/200). It will be a global celebration of the 400th anniversary of the first use of the telescope for astronomical observations by Galileo Galilei (Italian), who in 1609 conducted optical observations which leaded to his discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, named the Galilean moons in his honour.

  The aim of the IYA2009 is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme “The Universe, Yours to Discover”.

 IYA2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that embody an invaluable shared resource, that is the sky, for all nations.

 Some progress of Astronomy since Gallileo  and  challenges 

Astronomy is a branch of physics that study celestial objects (comets, satellites, planets, stars, galaxies, clusters of galaxies) and phenomena beyond the earth's atmosphere. It is one of the oldest basic Science and has made huge progress since Gallileo findings particularly in the last few decades.
At the time of Gallileo, they knew only the existence of our own galaxy, the Milky Way but nowadays  it is known that our universe is made up of billions of galaxies, and that its age is about 13.7 billions years.

Center of Milky-Way  At the time of Gallileo, people had no means to tell whether there were other solar systems in the universe but nowadays it is known that there are  more than 200 planets around other stars in the Milky Way and astronomers  are moving towards an understanding of how life might have appeared.
At the time of Gallieo, people were starting to study the sky using only optical telescopes but nowadays  the Universe is observed from Earth and from Space (using Rockets, Balloons and Satellites) in all electromagnetic spectral bands from radio waves (using radio telescopes) to very high energy gamma-rays (using Cherenkov telescopes).
The current  universe is expanding and accelerating. The overall density of the universe was measured to be roughly 9.9 × 10−30 grams per cubic centimetre

and this appears to consist of 73% of the so called “dark energy”, 23% cold dark matter and 4% of ordinary matter. 

Dark energy is believed to cause the universe to accelerate, dark matter and ordinary matter generate an opposite effect. But, since dark energy component is bigger the universe as whole accelerates

However, despite this progress, astronomy remains challenged by some embarrassing but interesting  questions. Only two examples are given here:
-Astronomers and cosmologists studied very well the ordinary matter which is (basically visible), but the nature of dark matter (invisible and don't interact with normal matter) and dark energy (invisible) are extensively unknown.
-There is a belief that there may be a possibility to have life, intelligent life,  elsewhere in the universe. The question of  “Are we (human beings on Earth) really alone in the all Universe?” doesn't have yet an answer.
How the IYA2009 will be celebrated in Rwanda?

 The IYA2009 activities will take place at the international, regional, national and local levels.
At the international level, the details of the scheduled activities can be found on the website:

 National Nodes have been formed in each country (including Rwanda) to prepare  some marking the IYA2009.  These Nodes have a mandate to establish collaboration in their countries between professional and amateur astronomers, science centres, educators and science communicators in preparing activities for the IYA2009.

Rwanda has joined  the world science community in the celebration of the  IYA2009 (see the Rwandan national webpage for IYA2009 at ( or at the official international webpage ( The International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the IYA2009 general secretariat have agreed to cooperate with the Rwandan National Organising Committee of IYA2009.  In this context,  Rwanda was invited and have been  represented  in the regional meeting for Africa and middle East  organised  in Cairo (Egypt) from 2 to 10 April this year 2008.

Iya logo               Although Astronomy is not developed in the country, the IYA 2009 will be an occasion to sensitize the Rwandan educational and scientific communities, of  all levels, on Astronomy, Astrophysics and  Space Sciences and  on  what can be  the  contribution of these latter to Science and Technology. It will be an occasion to recall some efforts which have been made  to implement an astronomical observatory by the then Honorable Minister of Science, Technology, Research and Education, Prof. Romain Murenzi. I quote here  from : “... Prof. Romain Murenzi, the Rwandan Minister of Science, Technology, Research and Education, has asked Dr. Charles McGruder, the William McCormack Professor in Physics at WKU, to develop a plan to install   the first telescope and robotic 

observatory  in Rwanda.  Dr. McGruder visited Rwanda two times (2004 and 2005) met government officials and toured possible telescope sites. Now he's working on a budget for the project (It is estimated that the telescope will cost about $5 million), which will require approval and funding by the Rwandan government.
If funded and built, the telescope would have a major impact on the African nation .”
  government will fund the project”.

Another  initiative of this kind is from Prof. Claude Carignan  of the university of Montreal (Canada).  This lecturer of Astronomy is currently implementing a research telescope in Burkina Faso and once he finishes there, he would like to start the same project in Rwanda in 2012. His project was officially submitted  to the Rwandan Embassy at OTTAWA  on 1st June 2008. 

 If these initiatives are realized, there is a hope that research in Astronomy and related Sciences  in Rwanda will start.  It is a pure coincidence that at  this  moment there are 4 Rwandans who are doing postgraduate studies in these area of Astronomy/Astrophysics and related Sciences  under the National Astrophysics and Space Science  Programme (in South Africa). We are hoping that these  people after finishing their programmes may come to  help running these facilities.

A temporarily committee to prepare activities for 2009 is already operational. This committee intends to mobilize all people interested in Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science (existent and/or potential) in the country and particularly ensuring that the IYA2009  happens in Rwanda.  Indeed there will be a need of a little budget to run some scheduled activities such as:
1.Conferences at some Institution of higher learning  and at some Science high schools. 

2.The committee has set a Questionnaire on Astronomy for high school students. Through this questionnaire we need to gauge the level of understanding of astronomical phenomena in our education system. Prices will be given to the winners provided financial support is available. We urge students to visit the IYA2009-Rwanda  web page to look at other instructions on about this questionnaire.
3. We intend to distribute 20 galileoscopes to 20 best Science high schools  and 1 telescope for amateurs  to an institution of higher education.
These gallileoscope have the capability to look at the surface of the moon, at the nearest stars with an acceptable resolution. With them, it will be able to see Jupiter and its moons as Gallileo did 400 years ago.
The telescope for amateur is an instrument more upgraded compare to the gallileoscope as it can be used to look deeper in the sky. 

4. The committee will organise a one-day workshop on Astronomy  for High school teachers in December (22 Dec, subject to change).

5. The committee will participate in this-year  World Science Day organised on 10 November.

We conclude this article by inviting people who are interested on promoting astronomy in Rwanda to join the National Organising committee. More information will be found on the IYA2009-Rwanda webpage:

II. Current situation of Astronomy in Rwanda.

Click here  astronomy_in_Rwanda.pdf to view  to the document relating the current Situation of Astronomy in Rwanda

III. Developing Astronomy in Rwanda: Vision, Mission, Objectives and actions

Taking the current state of astronomy in RWANDA into account, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) could/ should help over the next 10 years in terms of developing astronomy the following:


Developing astronomy in Rwanda will pass through:

1. Building the astronomy community in the country (build and support human resources).

2. Building the astronomical infrastructures


This vision will be realized through the two following missions:

i. Teaching astronomy and show its interest in schools and Universities

ii. Awareness and increase of the knowledge of astronomy in the public


The teaching astronomy in schools and universities will be done through:

i. Educational Resource Development (including astronomy Curricula) and Distribution

ii. Promotion and encouragement of post-graduate studies

iii. Equipping Universities and schools with necessary infrastructure and resources

The awareness and increase of the knowledge of astronomy in the public will be done through:

i. Public Resource Development and Distribution

ii. Public programmes and astronomical events


1. Teaching astronomy

1.1.Educational Resource Development

-Distribution of astronomy resources for educators and learners (books, posters, movies, DVDs, …)[2009]

-Develop astronomy curricula at all level of education.[2011]

-Open a department of Astronomy at least in one of the high institutions of learning [2012]

-Build a big optical telescope for research[2013]

1.2.Promotion and encouragement of post-graduate studies in astronomy and related subjects.

Post-graduates bursaries in astronomy and related sciences. [At least 2 bursaries per year]

1.3 Equipping universities and schools with necessary infrastructure

-Each university or tertiary institution of high Education (20 high institution : 6 public and 14 private) will be equipped with a small (displaceable) telescope

Primary (2172 primary schools) and secondary (504 secondary schools) schools will receive very small telescopes like. gallileoscopes, binoculars,[2009]

2. Awareness and increase of knowledge of astronomy in the public

-Distribution Public Resource Development:

Construct and equip a planetarium (stellarium) with a science center in the capital city of Rwanda.[2009]

-Public programmes and events:

Small Telescopes which can be used for watching night/day skies, eclipses … for the public.[2009]



 In our effort to Make_the_IYA2009_happen  in Rwanda we have approached the UNESCO (Nairobi office), Developping Astronomy Globally(DAG,  a cornestone project of IYA) to seek financial assistance.

Click here Rwanda_Iya2009_project.pdf or DAG_Application_Form.pdf   to view the all project.

Other potential sponsors who need to be contacted are:

-The Ministry of Education.

-The Ministry in the Office of the President in Charge of Science, Technology, Scientific Research and Information Communication Technologies.

-Physics Departments  at Universities and Institutes in Rwanda.

Among other activities scheduled in 2009, there  :

    Activity #1

  • Title of the activity: Distribution of 20 Gallileoscopes +1 telescope for amateurs

  • Dates : December

  • Short description : Galileoscopes will be distributed to 20 high schools and one  amateur telescope to an institute of high education in Rwanda. Schools which will benefit are schools which participated in the astronomy quiz. These schools are: 

    Primary schools (3):  Good foundation  primary school, Remera catholic I primary  school, Matyazo primary school

    Secondary schools (15): P.S.NDERA, X-Roi Nyanza, G.S. S. A Rwamagana, E.Sec. Muhoza, GSND Citeaux, GSOB, LDK, E.Sec Nyamagabe, Ecole sec. de Musanze, TTC Rubengera, G.S. Salle Byumba, APACOPE, G.S.N.D Nyundo, G.S. Nyagatare.

    The Galileoscope may be one of the best telescope bargains of the century. It is designed to show the heavens as Galileo first saw them in 1609, but with an optical quality that Galileo could never have imagined or achieved. Images supplied from

    The institute which will receive the amateur telescope is: KIE

    Type of amateur telescope are targeting.  Price:~$ 1020 (without transport and taxes)

    (Celestron NexStar 4SE Telescope 11049:)
    Features :
        * Computerized hand control with a nearly 40,000 object database and motorized altazimuth mount
        * Quick release optical tube for easy no-tool setup
        * StarBright® XLT enhanced coatings for maximum light transmission and clarity
        * SkyAlign™ allows you to align on any three bright objects, for a fast and easy alignment process
        * StarPointer finderscope to help with alignment and accurately locating objects
        * Flash upgradeable hand control; update your telescope's operating software via the internet
        * All NexStar SE models are GPS compatible and come standard with an auxiliary port for use with additional accessories
        * Internal battery compartment to prevent cord wrap during use
        * Includes NexRemote™ telescope control software, for advanced control of your telescope via computer
        * "THE SKY" Planetarium software - with a 10,000 object database, printable sky maps and enhanced images
        * Rigid adjustable tripod for portability and convenience

   Activity #2

  • Title of the activity: Conferences

  • Dates : February-December

  • Short description : A series of conferences dedicated to Universities, high schools and public

    updated list of conferences  already held:

    1. Title: The Physics in Astrophysical environments: observational evidences. Presenter:  Mr Pheneas Nkundabakura, Place: KIE , Date: Wednesday 12.03.2009 at 14:00 (Room 3G7).

     Link to the content here: kie_colloquium.pdf 

    Activity #3













    1. [KIE students observing using a small telescope during IYA/Rwanda outreach activities

    • [



      [Students at G.S. de Nyundo during the outreach.]


      [Students at G.S.N de Citeaux during outreach]

      Activity #7: Quiz

    • Click here  Quiz.pdf to download the Questionnaire dedicated for students in holidays.  Please contact Mr Erigene Rutayisire at for further info.

      Preliminary results for high schools:


      * 2 best schools: Petit Semianire de Ndera (average:59.13%) and Christ-Roi de Nyanza (average=54.12%)
      *2 best students: Iyakaremye JMV (78%, GSOB) and IRAGENA Jean Leon (69.57%, P.S. Ndera).
      * Only 42.6 % (104 over 244) have obtained above 50%.

      [0-25%[ [25-50[ [50-75[ [75-100]

      Number 3 137 103 1 244

      % 1.23 56.15 42.21 0.41 100

      If you have participated in the Quiz. Please click here to see your results Quiz_preliminary_results

    • Download photos of students during the Quiz period.Rwanda_astro_outreach_LNDC_2.jpgRwanda_astro_outreach_Nyundo_1.jpg 






       [High school students at GSND Citeaux during the Quiz]







  •                       [High school students at G.S. de Nyundo during the Quiz]

  •     V. News and Events  related to IYA 2009
  • Updates_on_IYA_Rwanda_vol15_8Dec.doc
    Update on IYA/Rwanda Volume 16 (26 Dec) 

    1. Celebration of the International Year of Astronomy in Rwanda (18 Dec 2009)

      The International Year of Astronomy in Rwanda was celebrated on Friday 18 Dec 2010 at Kigali Institute of Education. The event was combined with the celebration of the World Science Day in Rwanda and attracted about 150 participants (Lecturers, researchers, teachers, students) from educational and reasearch institutions in Rwanda.

    It was opened by the Minister of Education, Honorable Dr Charles Muligande.

    The programme is attached here below.




    08:00  - 09:30

    Arrival of participants and visit of stands-  Exposition

     KIE / RNCU

    09:30  - 09: 45

    Presentations of the programme of the workshop and the participants


    Mr Albert Mutesa

    09: 45 -  10.00


    Welcome  remarks

     KIE   Vice Rector

    Dr Vuningoma James

    10:00 - 10: 20

     Opening  remarks of the guest of Honour

     Minister of Education

    Hon Dr Charles Muligande

    10:20 – 10: 45


           Coffee break



    SESSION 1:

    The International Year of astronomy



    Chair : Dean faculty of science, KIE

    10:45 – 11:15

    1. Starting Astronomy in Rwanda with the IYA: current situation, challenges and the way forward

    Nkundabakura   Pheneas

    (Physics department-KIE)

    11:15– 11:35

    2.  Living  on  a  giant magnet in the atmosphere of a star.

    Jean     Uwamahoro

    (Physics department-KIE)


    11:35 – 11:50

    3.  Beyond the solar   system: Stars and galaxies

    Francois   Nsengiyumva 

    (M Sc student - UCT)

    11:50 – 12: 10

    4.  Beyond the visible  light: Multiwavelength Astronomy in  Africa

     Pheneas  Nkundabakura

    (Physics department-KIE)

    12:10  - 12: 30

     Coffee break






    SESSION 2:  Environmental Education and sustainable Development

    Chair: Dean Faculty of Science / NUR

    12:30 – 12:45

    1.      The use of geographic technology in  environmental conservation in Rwanda”: Demonstration for data transfers from GPS to Earth Google

    Dominique Mvunabandi


    NUR student and Coordinator of RUCCB (Rwanda University Club for Conservation of Biodiversity)

    12:45 – 13:00

    2.      Environmental Education for sustainable development: policy, strategic plan, regulation s.

     Djuma   Nsanzimana


    REMA – Environmental education Officer

    13:00 – 13:15

    3.      A green school through a dynamic Environmental Club: Good examples, practices and standards

    Johnson  Nkusi


    Chairman RENGOF (Rwanda Environmental NGO Forum)


    13:15 – 13: 35

    4. To promote a green energy (biodiesel) for a green economic growth and

     sustainable development


    Dr J.B. Nduwayezu


    (DG IRST)

    13:35 – 14: 00

    Awards of prizes for WSD and IYA 2009

     Albert  MUTESA

    ( D G science & technology RNCU)



    (Staff, Physics Department-KIE)

    14: 00 – 15:00



    Prices awarded :

          All schools which participated to the Quiz will be awarded small galileoscopes each.  Two overall best students (IYAKAREMYE Victory (76.8%, Groupe Scolaire de Butare) and  IRAGENA  Jean Leon (69.57%, Petit Seminaire de Ndera) were awarded  20,000 Frws and 15,000 Frws respectively   and 1  DVD of encyclopaedia of Sciences each. The third price (15.000Frws+DVD on Science)  was awarded to a the overall best girl GIRASO Joe Christa (65.22% from Groupe Scolaire Notre Dame de Citeaux)

    Invitation to the Workshop on International Year of Astronomy combined with the celebration of the World Science Day:

    Get photos of the event:


    2. Sun, Moon, Planets and stars (brightest) viewing during the month Of December

    Sun and Moon
    The new moon starts on the 16th and first quarter (half moon in the evening sky) is on the 24th. A second full moon occurs (also referred to as a blue moon) in this month on the 31st, which coincide with a lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse happens when the moon finds itself inside the Earth's shadow and appear darker than normal. The eclipse is predicted to start at about 19:15 and finishes at about 23:30 local time. The eclipse will also be visible from Rwanda.

    On the 4th at 16:13 the Moon was at perigee (closest approach to Earth) at a distance of 363478 km. It will be at apogee (furthest from Earth) at a distance of 405730 km on the 20th at 16:55.

    Winter solstice (when Sun reaches its most southerly position as viewed from Earth) falls on the 21st at 19:47 local time. This also corresponds to the longest day of year, for those located in the southern hemisphere.

    Planets – morning and evening

    Mercury will be setting about an hour after sunset at start of the month, while getting closer to the sun as the month progresses and being closet to the sun by month end.

    Venus rises shortly before sunrise and remaining close to the sun all month. Mars rises about an hour after midnight at start of the month and and an hour before midnight by month end.

    Jupiter can be seen early in the evening until 23:30 at start of the month and until 21:30 by month end.

    Saturn rises at just after 01:00 in the morning at start of the month and just before midnight by month end.

    Uranus can be seen all night, setting at around midnight all month. Neptune is up during the evenings until about one to two hours before midnight.

    On the 15th at around 04:30 in the morning the bright star Antares, near the heart of the Scorpion, can be seen close to a waning crescent Moon.

    The Evening Sky Stars.

    The two brightest stars in the sky, Canopus and Sirius, are rising in the southeast and east, respectively.
    The Morning Sky Stars

    The Cross and the Pointers (the two brightest stars in Centaurus) are rising higher in the southeast this month


    c. IAU strategic plan in the next 10 years.

    IAU in its latest General Assembly held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) from 3 to 14 July 2009, has ratified Strategic Plan for the next 10 years. In this plan it is clear that Africa, and especially Sub-Saharan Africa will be a focus region for development for the IAU over the next decade. This may amount to activities such as visiting lecturers at African universities; schools for young astronomers; telescope donations; intitute twinning; high level delegation visits; etc

    Download the plan here strategicplan_090727.pdf 
     d. New!!

    Rwanda Astro Book Drive – Southern friends share the joy
    of astronomy with Rwanda

      International Year of Astronomy has not only helped thousands of people around the world to discover the Universe they live in, but also gave an opportunity to interact with the global astronomy community. Few countries took the first steps in astronomy, and many got a boost out of it to do more programs.

       One such country is Rwanda, which is lead by an excellent team of officials with long term goals to improve the astronomy from school students to university level. They have used the momentum given by IYA2009 well and plans are under way to carry them forward.

        Joining their efforts in improving astronomy education in Rwanda, a book drive has organized to collect books.

      Read more… 


      What is Astro Book Drive?

      Astro Book Drive – is a global initiative which mainly focuses on improving Astronomy Education in Developing Countries. ABD is founded by Dr. John Clarke of Boston University and Thilina Heenatigala of Sri Lanka Astronomical Association. 

      There are many astronomical societies in developing countries run by amateur astronomers. They conduct plenty of programs throughout the year and the participation is immense. But lack of resources always comes against having a good education or conducting a program.


      To overcome this difficulty, Astro Book Drive works on getting the excess books from developed countries across to developing countries. There are plenty of books and reading materials which lay in shelves with no one to get use of in many libraries, departments, association or perhaps, individuals who are looking for a new home for their books. These excess materials are   cherished as treasurers by astronomical groups in developing countries     

       VI. Useful links:
      a. Bursaries in Astronomy/Astrophysics
      Link to:
      b. Bursaries at African Institute of Mathematical Science Link to :African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)
      c. IYA song. Click here  ShouldersOfGiants.mp3  to download the IYA2009 song.  
      d. Click here for more links.


      ( Last update of this page: 30.12.2012 at 6:00 am)