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 on Zoom and live on Youtube

Contributions: Contributions were 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.

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. 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, those interested in proposing an IAU Symposium or Focus meeting at the 2024 GA were encouraged to express their interest during the Science session on Day 3.

Participants list: View the full list of 430 registered participants at this link.

Essential reading: In preparation for participation in the Forum, everyone was asked to please read through the 2024 Vision document which one can find info about at this link or access directly as a Google doc where one could leave comments. This document formed the core of the discussions at the Forum and includes actions needed. Participants of the Forum would ideally take on some of these actions.

Unconference: On Day 2 the discussions were in the form of an “unconference” – this means that the topics of discussion were based on the participants’ interests. If there was a topic that interested someone, they were able to propose it or, if someone else had already proposed it, vote for it. Most popular proposals were given a time slot on Day 2.

Slack channel: A Slack channel was set up for the Forum for participants to engage with each other. Participants could join via this link and start chatting with fellow participants prior to, during and after the Forum. Participants were welcome to meet and network during the breaks in

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

Recordings: Each day’s discussions were broadcast live on Youtube, where it remains as a recording of the discussions (see links below)

Summary of links:
1. Latest programme and information about the Forum (this page)
2. Zoom link to connect to the meeting (same for all days – now expired)
3. Live stream on Youtube (see recordings below)
4. Slack channel for chatting with fellow participants
5. link for networking during the breaks (same link for all breaks – now expired)
6. List of registered participants (430 in total)
7. The latest 2024 Vision Document on which you can leave comments/suggestions
8. The Unconference document where you could propose/view/vote for Day 2 topics
9. Recording from Day 1
10. Recording from Day 2
11. Recording from Day 3 Science Parallel Session
12. Recording from Day 3 Outreach Parallel Session
11. Recording from Day 3 plenary


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 and Zoom 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
Post-forum submission: Kenya Optical Telescope InitiativeNadir Omar Hashim
Current 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
Current and proposed collaborative initiatives on the continent 
African Astronomical SocietyCharles Takalana
African Planetarium AssociationLucia Marchetti
Arab Astronomical SocietyRaid Suleiman
African Initiative for Planetary and Space Science (AFIPS)David Baratoux
East African Astronomy Research NetworkSimon Anguma
South African Institute of PhysicsMakaiko Chithambo
IAU Office for Astronomy OutreachLina Canas
IAU Office of Astronomy for EducationTshiamiso Makwela
IAU Office of Astronomy for DevelopmentKevin Govender
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
Portuguese Language Centre of the OAD (PLOAD)Gustavo Rojas
Lessons learned from “The Future of Meetings”Vanessa Moss
13:30Break (Optional and Zoom networking)
14:00Working session: achieving the vision (walk through vision doc, identify gaps, assign actions)
Unconference instructions and determination of programme for Day 2
15:00Optional and Zoom networking
Day 2: 28 October 2021 All times in Central African Time (CAT)
09:30Optional and Zoom networking
10:00Reflections on Day 1
10:15Vision discussion/unconference #1 (see topics, propose, and vote at this link)
The AfAS surveyCharles Takalana
Amateur community in AfricaPaul Ludick
Benefits for African school children from GA2024; Astronomy education in AfricaRuth Taju; Zakaria Belhaj
Data archiving from telescopes on the continentVanessa McBride; David Buckley
Recording, preserving, and sharing astronomy heritage data (perhaps via a digital repository)Auke; Somaya
Possibility for any African countries to join large projects such as SKAAnge Cynthia Umuhire
Astronomy at universities for undergraduatesMichele Gerbaldi
Why should every physicist (and chemist) and even citizens be astronomy literate! Making a case for it.Jamal Mimouni
Using Virtual Observatories for Astronomical Research and for Education and OutreachKhadija El-Bouchefry
A brief introduction to Gather. town (and the future of meetings); barriers and challenges for onlineVanessa Moss
12:30Break (Optional and Zoom networking)
13:00Vision discussion/unconference #2 (see topics, propose, and vote at this link)
Possible Programs for Women in Astronomy WGPriya Hasan
Planetary (Solar system, Asteroids, Fireball, meteoroids, comets, … )Jean-Baptiste Kikwaya
Globalization of Astronomy terminologies and descriptionsNoorali Jiwaji
Initiating departments for “Astronomy Engineering” at the colleges of engineering in the continentYosry Azzam
Dark sky conservation and Astro-tourism initiatives in AfricaAlemiye Mamo Yacob
Making the IAU GA multilingualThierry Martial Tchangole
Facilitate the exchange of African students and researchersAbdelmajid
Benhida, Noorali Jiwaji
14:00Determination of additional parallel sessions for Day 3 (no additional parallel sessions – only Science and Outreach)
14:30Optional and Zoom networking
Day 3: 29 October 2021All times in Central African Time (CAT)
09:30Optional and Zoom 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: Pulsars and Radio TransientsMarisa
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 and Zoom networking)
13:30Plenary (Report back from parallel sessions and discussion)
14:00Action items, summary and way forward


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