Susan Murabana had a life-changing experience at just 22 years old when she peered through a telescope for the first time. What had once been mere textbook illustrations of Saturn’s yellow-gold rings became a powerful, real experience. A student volunteer with Cosmos Education, a nonprofit dedicated to improving science learning in developing countries, Murabana discovered her passion for astronomy while teaching young children in Kenya. Rather than inspiring the children, Murabana found herself inspired.
Following a teacher training program and a Master’s degree in astronomy, Murabana and her husband, Daniel Chu Owen, established Travelling Telescope, a social enterprise designed to bring astronomy education to children in underserved areas. With a telescope and a mobile planetarium, the program aims to transform lives by introducing children to Saturn, the moon, and various constellations, while teaching them basic science and astrophysics.
Murabana and Owen aim to inspire more Kenyans to get involved in the space industry, and hope to see the first Kenyan in space. According to Owen, Kenyans are generally unaware of the country’s involvement in space research, despite the deployment of Kenya Space Agency’s first satellite and the use of a satellite station by the European Space Agency. Travelling Telescope is funded through astro-tourism services, such as Star Safaris camping trips and astronomy nights for paying tourists.
Their ultimate goal is to ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn under the night sky at least once in their lifetime. With over 400,000 people having looked through the Travelling Telescope so far, Murabana and Owen want to expand their reach to more schools. “Astronomy or simply gazing up at the sky,” Murabana says, “can create a generation of more informed leaders and establish an awareness of the need to protect our planet, shaping a more objective perspective of our world.”