For the first time in the history of the IAU, anyone anywhere in the world will be able to follow in real-time (or recordings) the talks at the IAU General Assembly. This is the world’s largest international astronomy meeting. It’s a field/subject that attracts millions of enthusiasts globally. Yet when we talk about our science, it’s usually been behind closed doors. Numerous astronomers and students often face challenges accessing international conferences, even those on their doorstep. Therefore, the first IAU General Assembly in Africa will also be the first to be completely open to young astronomers, students, the public and school kids all across the continent, and all around the world – a historic moment to bring the metaphorical ivory tower “down to earth”. Scientifically it also allows for every symposium, focus meeting, and other meetings, to engage their entire global community in that scientific area (collaborators, postdocs, students, etc) because everyone will now be able to listen to the talks for free and the Scientific Organising Committees could easily set up their online discussion channels around that field of study. As the world clearly shifts towards open science and open access, this event is an opportunity to do with conferencing what is already starting to happen in publishing – where anyone can have access to the science as soon and as directly as possible. Every registration we receive will contribute financially towards the objective of a fully open, accessible IAU General Assembly.


Acknowledging that physical presence is not always possible nor preferable, we have the option of virtual participation. This ensures that even if one cannot attend in person, one can still contribute meaningfully to discussions and share one’s perspectives. Embracing a blended approach that seamlessly integrates both in-person and virtual interactions, our conference transforms into a global space where individuals from any location can connect and learn collaboratively. We are aware that attending a meeting virtually is not always easy and the experience is not always positive. Our intention with this event is to provide virtual participants with an experience that will engage them fully and allow for smooth, meaningful and rewarding participation that will demonstrate to the world what is possible when it comes to hybrid meetings. Thanks to the skills, support and advice from our friends at TFOM (The Future of Meetings), virtual participants can expect to have their minds blown with new ways of virtual conferencing.


We recognise that it is sometimes difficult to balance conference attendance with childcare responsibilities. Several of us on the organising committee have young children and face these challenges regularly. To ensure that this meeting is accessible to parents who travel with their children, we have decided to allocate space in the conference venue where free child care will be provided. This means that participants with minor children will be able to leave their kids in the childcare facility on-site with trained carers and attend their talks or meetings in the same building, freely able to check in with their little ones whenever they like or when they are needed. The only cost to the parent will be that children should be registered as accompanying minors for access to the conference venue.


The chosen venue has been designed to cater for the disabled, to ensure that the building is an inclusive venue for all visitors. The building incorporates international norms as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the South African National Building Regulation Standards. For more information see the venue website. As much as we try to ensure inclusion in every way, we recognise that we have probably not thought of everything, and we welcome suggestions and input from participants to help us improve their experience at the IAU General Assembly.

*If you are in a country affected by conflict, international sanctions or any other situation preventing your physical participation in the IAU General Assembly, please contact the IAU secretariat (link) to discuss virtual participation fee waivers.