Description: Centre for Earth and Space Keywords: Naval Hill Planetarium dome by Evert Kleynhans Photo: Evert Kleynhans


The project ensures the sustainability and development of the Boyden Observatory and the Naval Hill Planetarium (formerly the Lamont-Hussey Observatory) to promote science communication and education, foster astronomical research and preserve and share important astronomical heritage.

To harness the potential of astronomy as a gateway science for public engagement in the sciences
To preserve and showcase important historical heritage
To develop facilities for research and science education

Description of the opportunity
South Africa is a major player in world astronomy. We host some of the world’s largest telescopes and have developed great expertise in the field. This is, in part, due to our geographic location on planet Earth. Central South Africa is particularly suited to research in astronomy because of our dark skies and stable atmosphere. The South African Astronomy Geographic Advantage Act of 2007 commits the country to protecting and developing its astronomy resources. The UFS has substantial resources in this field, both in terms of research capacity and facilities, which can be leveraged for the development of many sectors, including education and tourism.

How the project is leveraging the opportunities
The UFS manages two optical astronomical observatories established in our region by two USA universities in the 1920s. One of these is Boyden Observatory, which is still used as a research facility. The other is the Lamont-Hussey Observatory, which has been converted to a Planetarium on Bloemfontein’s Naval Hill as the first component of a fully developed “Centre for Earth and Space”. The Centre fosters science communication and education in the natural sciences since astronomy is a gateway science. The observatories complement each other in teaching and learning in the natural sciences and attract a cross section of the public, from young children to PhD students and astronomers. The observatories have historical significance, they encourage tourism and are an important interface between the UFS and the public.

This is a high-profile and unique project which contributes to science education, tourism and the economic activity in Bloemfontein and the Free State. The Planetarium is a platform for the UFS to interact with learners and teachers and attract students.

Ongoing activities: for example, to make trips to the Planetarium and Boyden affordable for local learners and to maintain the planetarium equipment. (Amounts from R50 000 make a difference.)

Development of content that can be projected on to the Planetarium’s dome: From R200 000. (Sponsorship and other marketing opportunities are available.)

About R10 million is needed to complete the infrastructure of the “Centre for Earth and Space”: site upgrades, an exhibition area, parking, security and landscaping. The infrastructure can be established in phases as funding is made available.

Donate here

Project leader
Prof Matie Hoffmann
T: +27 51 401 2924
C: +27 83 615 7254

IA manager

Patricia Lamusse
T: +27 51 401 2415

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