Bursaries for aspiring astronomers

Bursaries for aspiring astronomers

Researchers at the University of KwaZulu-Natal say with the country co-hosting the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, they're hoping more young people will develop a keen interest in astrophysics.


The SKA radio telescope is being built in both our country and Australia and will have a total collecting area of approximately one square kilometre.

Dr Matt Hilton is a senior lecturer at the Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit.

He says astrophysics is the study of everything in the sky adding that astrophysicists try to answer questions including where the universe comes from.

Hilton says although not as big as the US and UK - the field has grown in the last five to 10 years in South Africa.

"This is being driven by the fact that South Africa will be hosting the world's largest radio telescope - the Square Kilometre Array. Even at the moment there are some world-class instruments in South Africa being built. 

"We have the Southern African Large Telescope, and also the MeerKAT radio telescope is being built right now and will be up and running fully by 2017," he said. 


Hilton says the university is offering bursaries for pupils who are interested in studying astronomy next year.

"The aim here is really to grow the number of home-grown South African astronomers so that when SKA gets going, they'll be people there that can lead the research, and that South Africa doesn't just host it but make some of the key discoveries with this instrument," he said.

Hilton says the bursaries are being funded by the SKA project and will cover tuition fees, and to some extent, accommodation. 

The call for future astronomers echoes that of Science and Technology Minister, Naledi Pandor, who has used numerous platforms to highlight the urgent need for scientists in South Africa.

Pandor says children should be encouraged to take Maths and Science in school so that South Africa does not lag behind other countries in the crucial  field of science and technology.

The deadline for bursary applications is Saturday, 31 October 2015. For more information on application forms, contact [email protected]

(File photo: Gallo Images)

Show's Stories