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An Interview with Susan Murabana (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/08/22


Susan Murabana is an Astronomer and Rotarian, and Founder of the Travelling Telescope. She discusses: virtual reality in education; Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, Brian Cox, and others; dark matter and dark energy; Frank Drake and extraterrestrial life; civilizations on other planets; and favorite scientist in history.

Keywords: astronomer, Rotarian, Susan Murabana, Travelling Telescope.

Interview with Susan Murabana: Astronomer and Rotarian, and Founder, Travelling Telescope (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You mentioned virtual reality. You mentioned some of the products and initiatives ongoing in Kenya regarding the Travelling Telescope. Where are you hoping to expand in the future with this initiative?

Susan Murabana: We have run our project for about 3 years as the Travelling Telescope and we reached quite several kids and members of the public. We’ve gotten interested from people to come to us because right now we move, we are mobile. We are the Travelling Telescope. What we want to do soon is to build a center, a science center which we will call the Cosmic Hill where we would like to have a permanent planetarium and an observatory.

With lots of fun activities for kids to do and things like that, as well as education and scientific, we want to dedicate it to the public. Anyone who wants to come here, to be able to access it and to come and learn and enjoy the sky. And we feel that that could be so important because I do not think, if there are, there aren’t many places like that in Africa and that’s what we want to give our kids.

We want to give them access so they can grow up in a different environment. An environment that gives exposes them to different things. We do not want to build the planetarium and the telescope and stuff like that, but we also want to have applicable methods of showing how they can make our planet safer and better. Like using solar energy as our source of energy.

We call it the Cosmic Hill because it would be up on a hill. Using hydroponics, for example, to plant food or grow food. Grow fish and food and having them feed each other from their waste, stuff like that. So, we have kids come or adults, they can see some of the things we do.

But at home, or take them back to their home, we also want to have a small music center where we could also have artists, not necessarily music, but have the creative mind and the scientific thing.

Instead of calling it STEM education, call it STEAM education and get science and engineering with arts and math all together. That’s our big project. We do not have money for it, so we are hoping we can go back to the public and have it co-funded and ask the public to believe in us and help the future of Kenyans and the future of African children to support the initiative.

We want to invite schools to come over and stay for a day or a week or for families. I think we come from a place where we think, we try to do this, but parents are part of the learning process. They can see what the kids like and encourage them. We want to build that, and we are about ready to launch it.

That’s what we are trying to do. We also have the VR technology. We are trying to partner with different planetarium companies around the world to do shows and they get to see that. I believe in asking for a global place for partnerships and an exchange of ideas because we have a lot.

We also have a lot to give, a lot of cultural exchange, scientific exchange and there are some ways to encourage our kids to think of themselves as contributing to a project. And you also get to have, if you have the science center built, you want to open it to university students from around the world. We want to have exchange programs, not for university students but also kids.

Like, get lots of these kids to come to Kenya or vice versa so it is this open place. Kids from South Africa or Nigeria, so our thing where we have a lot of collaborations and exchange and learning in a free environment.

2. Jacobsen: So, we mentioned Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. We mentioned Carl Sagan before. As well, there are other popularizers like Bill Nye, Brian Cox, and many others. Many of them try to enthuse an audience about science because they look out in the universe and find it exciting.

In other ways, people might find a certain “spirituality” from learning about the universe. From contemplation that there might be water on Mars, that they have an icy body such as Europa, where there might be life underneath.

What would you consider a spiritual aspect of learning about the universe? These could be feelings that come from contemplation about something much larger than oneself. So, nothing supernatural necessarily.

Murabana: I think the cool thing about learning about the Universe is the fact that we’ve been able to find out so much and there is still so much we do not know. There is so much room for discovery. That’s cool and the fact that we thought things were certain like that maybe the Earth was flat, or the Earth was at the center and then we found out different things. That’s the intriguing thing for me and for our kids.

The fact that they have an opportunity to discover. There is room for them. There is room for discovery. They might be the ones to find out new ways to communicate with intelligent life out there if it is there and chances are that it could be. It is the whole idea of trying to get more Africans and some of them contributed to discoveries in that sense. Yes, that’s where I come from.

3. Jacobsen: What is the most mysterious part of the universe to you?

Murabana: What’s the most mysterious part of the universe? That’s an interesting question.

Jacobsen: I mean some might answer the nature of dark matter or dark energy, for instance.

Murabana: Yes, many different things. Black holes, dark energy. The fact that our planet is in space. It is hanging there and looking at some of the planets and appreciating that. it is interesting.

4. Jacobsen: Many astrophysicists and astronomers will guess at the ranges within Frank Drake’s equation on the probability of intelligent life. What number would you put on the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy?

Murabana: 90 percent or 95 percent yeah. A high probability. 9 out of 10.

5. Jacobsen: If we take that 9 out of 10 probabilities of it occurring, how many civilizations do you think are out there in our galaxy?

Murabana: Civilizations? I do not know. It is difficult to think. I guess civilization to me is relative. I do not know, but the probability is high. I cannot put a number to it.

When you ask me about what intrigues me, is if we want to find intelligent life or some other life out there, what would it look like? Would it be alien or different or like us? Things like that. That’s interesting.

6. Jacobsen: Who is your favorite scientist in history?

Murabana: I guess Galileo Galilee for giving us the telescope in the sense that he pointed it and made the world look at the world differently and proved different things. Obviously, Albert Einstein, I can go on and on. Isaac Newton, quite a good number of people. Honestly, Neil deGrasse Tyson to me, especially watching Cosmos. I was a huge follower of Scott Kelly? I love his whole trip.

That was cool to see how he communicated to people, even me in Kenya. I was excited about it. I have so many people to mention. I also have a lot of admiration for the lady who fought for our environment who passed on. She passed on in 2011. She was a Nobel Prize winner and professor. She was an astronomer in a different sense. She was mentally special.

She was also fighting for this planet of ours and I appreciate her. I admire her a lot. Being a woman and seeing her struggles and seeing how she presented it and how persistent she was and what that means to Kenya and Africa right now, and the world. It is hard to say a favorite. It is hard to name names.


  1. Travelling Telescope. (2018). Travelling Telescope. Retrieved from

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Astronomer; Founder, Travelling Telescope; Rotarian.

[2] Individual Publication Date: August 22, 2018:; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2018:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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