99FM – Your Inspiration Station

A passion written in the stars

The struggle and the story behind becoming a world-famous astronomer 

“The best piece of business advice I have comes from Sir Richard Branson. He said: ‘Do what you love, love what you do and the rest will take care of itself – happy is the man that can work and play at the same time.'”

Rob Johnstone is a happy man. He’s been featured on CNN talking about the magic of Namibia’s night skies. His name is on the planet Mars on a microchip inside the Mars exploration rover. After working at NASA, he founded Space Observation Learning Namibia in 2009, offering strategizing and astronomy education that showcases the wonders of the Namibian sky. 

Rob was not always an astronomer but knew in his heart that it was his calling. 

“I’m self-taught. it was not easy, but the most amazing aspect of being self-taught is that you get a greater appreciation of what you learned and what you’ve learned about yourself in the process.”

Staying motivated

Rob keeps motivated through practice, reading and never giving up. 

“You must have the desire and drive to be an astronomer. It is not easy due to the long working hours, which are in the evening till very early in the morning. It can be bitterly cold outside, especially in Winter. 

“Astronomy is the study of the universe around us, finding out how it works and where the human species fits into the grand scheme. 

“When you see what is out there and start understanding the distances involved, you realize how small and insignificant we are. So the best answer to what astronomy entails is to teach and show everyone where we fit in and how things work from a scientific field perspective.”