The International Astronomical Union, which has been in existence for over 100 years, is the world’s largest body of professional astronomers. Every three years it holds a General Assembly, bringing together astronomers from around the world. This meeting will take place for the first time on the African continent in 2024. Cape Town has been selected to host the meeting, and the National Research Foundation (NRF) is the official host organisation. In preparation for this event, it is essential to bring together the African astronomical community to discuss how the continent can maximally benefit from this unique opportunity as well as how best to facilitate participation by countries in Africa.

Format: Virtual Forum for African astronomy community via Zoom

Date/Duration: 27 – 29 October 2021 (3 days)

Venue: Online

Contributions: Contributions will be in the form of short recorded talks about ideas or initiatives related to the IAU GA 2024, and then real-time (during the Forum) proposals for discussion in the “unconference” session. Deadline for submission of contributions has passed but if you have a burning issue that you think really needs to be on the programme please send an email to

Purpose: Engage the African Astronomy community, including astronomers, amateur astronomers, education and outreach community, to obtain commitment on participation and appoint country ambassadors.

Spirit: The October Forum should be based on the principle of shared ownership and different stakeholder groups (e.g. astronomers, amateurs, science centres, outreach professionals, etc) should drive activities agreed upon at the forum.

Who should attend: Astronomers, amateur astronomers, education and outreach community or anyone with an interest in astronomy research, infrastructures, education, outreach, development; amateur astronomy, astrotourism, astronomy arts & culture, etc. In particular, we encourage those interested in proposing an IAU Symposium or Focus meeting at the 2024 GA to express their interest here, so that we can assist them with the IAU process.

Essential reading: In preparation for your participation in the Forum, please read through the 2024 Vision document which you can find info about at this link or access directly as a Google doc where you can leave comments. This document forms the core of the discussions at the Forum and includes actions needed – participants of the Forum will ideally take on some of these actions.

Slack channel: A Slack channel has been set up for the Forum and is already active. Please feel free to join via this link and start chatting with fellow participants prior to and during the Forum.

Expected outcome: By the end of the Forum there should be an updated vision document with specific actions with people/organisations volunteering to drive those actions. Thanks to the Department of Science and Innovation we have funds available to support these actions towards 2024.


This is the latest version of the programme and will be updated as it develops. We welcome your specific suggestions and will do our best to accommodate them wherever possible. Email your suggestions directly to

Where pre-recorded videos are available, you can click on the title link to view it, then click “back” on your browser to return.

Day 1: 27 October 2021 All times in Central African Time (CAT)
09:30Optional networking
10:00Welcome messages from key stakeholders
International Astronomical Union José Miguel Rodriguez
Department of Science and InnovationTakalani Nemaungani
National Research FoundationKurt van der Heyden
African Astronomical SocietyJamal Mimouni
10:10Overview of GA2024, Vision and expected outcomes of workshopVanessa McBride and Kevin Govender
10:30Science flagship introBradley Frank and Bonita de Swart
10:40Outreach Flagship introCarolina Odman and Niruj Mohan
10:50Possibility of AfAS astronomy hubs to implement flagshipsKevin Govender
11:00Current and proposed astronomy research activities on the continent 
South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and MeerKATKhulu Phasiwe
Oukaimeden ObservatoryBenkhaldoun Zouhair
Hydrogen Intensity and Real-Time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX)Kavilan Moodley
Astronomy Development in Egypt: New Facilities and Frontiers Somaya Saad
South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)Petri Vaisanen
The South African Gamma-Ray Astronomy Programme (SA-GAMMA)Markus Böttcher
Stellar Occultations in Africa in Support of NASA MissionsAnne Verbiscer
Overview of research done at UCT AstronomyPatrick Woudt
In-field identification of Moroccan meteorites using Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) handheld instrumentationGiorgio Senesi
Ionised bubbles before the epoch of reionisationJosé Miguel Rodriguez
African VLBI Network (AVN)Carla Sharpe
South African National Space Agency (SANSA)Martin Snow
Spectroscopy of variables stars at Oukaimeden ObservatoryBENHIDA Abdelmajid
11:30Current and proposed astronomy outreach activities on the continent 
Women in Astronomy and activities at the IAUMamta Pommier
Inspiration and Engagement with Astronomy Through Khoi and San StarloreDaniel Cunnama
The Travelling TelescopeSusan Murabana Owen
African Science Stars (ASSAP)Unathi Kondile
Astronomy outreach and development in BeninPrudence AYIVI
The Wits Digital DomeRoger Deane
CosmoLAb MagazineThierry Martial Tchangole
Affordable Radio Telescopes for Education and OutreachIkechukwu Obi
Astronomy in developing countries using Virtual ObservatoriesKhadija El Bouchefry
THE ACTIVITIES OF OUR ASSOCIATIONS (الجمعية الموريتانيه لعلم الفلك Mauritanian Association of Astronomy)ELY CHEIKH Ould Mohamed Navee
Pan-African School for Emerging Astronomers (PASEA)Chukwujekwu Ofodum
Astronomy Outreach in LibyaAmjed Khurwat
Astronomy Outreach in EthiopiaKirubel Menberu
Astronomy Outreach in EgyptSomaya Saad
Astronomy Outreach in BotswanaMolly Kgobathe
12:00Current and proposed collaborative initiatives on the continent 
African Astronomical SocietyCharles Takalana
Arab Astronomical SocietyRaid Suleiman
East African Astronomy Research NetworkSimon Anguma
South African Institute of PhysicsMakaiko Chithambo
Development in Africa with Radio Astronomy (DARA)Melvin Hoare
DARA Big DataAnna Scaife
Development of astronomy in East Africa and focus areas to invest in the regionAlemiye Mamo
National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP)Ros Skelton
IAU Office for Young Astronomers and International School for Young Astronomers (ISYA)David Mota
ISYA South AfricaMoses Mogotsi
AstrotourismStelios Tryfon
African Network for Women in Astronomy (AfNWA)Mirjana Povic
Creating international support groups to build and sustain local capacity and build local expertiseNoorali Jiwaji
Using Big Data for Scientific (Astronomical) Data Computing and ManagementTsegazeab Hailegebriel
A Platform of collaboration for research and education across AfricaTolu Biressa
GA2024 – An engineering point of viewYosry Azzam
Infrastructure and collaborationSolomon Tessema
African Radio Astronomy NetworkJames Chibueze
West African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (WAROAD)Nnaemeka Dom Onyeuwaoma
Lessons learned from “The Future of Meetings”Vanessa Moss
12:30Break (Optional networking)
13:00Working session: achieving the vision (walk through vision doc, identify gaps, assign actions)
14:30Unconference instructions and determination of programme for Day 2 (On Day 2 the discussions will be in the form of an “unconference” – this means that the topics of discussion will be based on the participants’ interests. If there is a topic that interests you, you will be able to propose it or, if someone else has already proposed it, vote for it. Most popular proposals will be given a time slot on Day 2)
15:00Optional networking
Day 2: 28 October 2021 All times in Central African Time (CAT)
09:30Optional networking
10:00Reflections on Day 1
10:15Vision discussion/unconference #1 (People; Infrastructure; Opportunities; Experience; Organisation; Funding; Legacy)
12:30Break (Optional networking)
13:00Vision discussion/unconference #2 (People; Infrastructure; Opportunities; Experience; Organisation; Funding; Legacy)
14:00Determination of additional parallel sessions for Day 3 (other than Science and Outreach). Should you wish to propose additional parallel sessions, or some topic should arise during Day 1 or Day 2 that would require an additional parallel session, these will be decided by participants at the end of Day 2. The main outcomes from the parallel sessions will be presented in plenary at the end of Day 3.
14:30Optional networking
Day 3: 29 October 2021All times in Central African Time (CAT)
09:30Optional networking
09:45Reflections on Day 2
10:00Parallel sessions:
Parallel Session 1: Science
10:00Intro to SessionBrad/Bonita
10:10Flagship ProjectsDavid
10:20I-How MeetingsBrad
10:30IAU Symposia & Focus Meetings: Previous Meetings in AfricaMirjana
10:50 IAU Symposia & Focus Meetings: The proposal evaluation processRenee
11:00DiscussionWith Mirjana/Renee, Chaired by Brad & Bonita
11:15Short break, depending on length of discussion
11:20Intro & Disclaimer to session on SymposiaBrad/Bonita
11:25Symposium: Inclusive AGNSarah & Sthabile
11:35Symposium: Radio TransientsMarissa
11:45Symposium: Gravitational WavesPaul
11:55Symposium: Galactic PlaneJames
12:05Symposium: Radio AstronomyPatrick
12:15Symposium: X-Ray BinariesItumeleng
12:40Focus Meeting: High EnergyMichael
12:50Focus Meeting: Gas in GalaxiesSarah & DJ
13:00Discussion & Closing RemarksSSC
Parallel Session 2: Communications, Education and Outreach
10:00 Welcome & Introduction to the programme Carolina and Niruj
10:10 Flagship project discussion Led by Niruj
10:40 Planetaria discussion Led by Lucia
10:55 Science Centers discussion Led by MJ
11:10 Education and African NAEC network discussion Led by Sally
11:25 Schools discussion Led by Sivuyile
11:40 Amateur Astronomers discussion Led by Daniel
11:55 Astrotourism discussion Led by Anthony
12:10 Industry discussion Led by Anton
12:25Wild ideas discussion Carolina
12:40Pan-African coordination Niruj
13:00Break (Optional networking)
13:30Plenary (Report back from parallel sessions and discussion)
14:30Action items, summary and way forward


Download the poster here:

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