The African Astronomical Society 3rd Annual Conference Special Session

The African Astronomical Society 3rd Annual Conference Special Session – IAU General Assembly 2024 in Cape Town: Gearing up for the GA in 2024

The African Astronomical Society’s third annual conference took place in Johannesburg, South Africa at the University of the Witwatersrand Origins Center from 13 – 17 March 2023. This meeting is especially important for the African community as it provides an opportunity for astronomers across Africa and around the world to engage, network, and reconnect.

On Monday, 13 March, the National Organising Committee of the IAU General Assembly 2024 arranged a Special Session to update the community on the progress of the very first General Assembly on African soil which is set to take place in August 2024.

Chairing the session was Professor Vanessa McBride, co-chair of the National Organising Committee(NOC). The opening talk was then given by the inspirational Dr. Khotso Mokhele, former President and CEO of The National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF), who played a major role in securing support for the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) Project, hosted at the South African Astronomical Observatory, the success of this also contributed to South Africa being awarded to host a huge portion of the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), which will be the largest radio telescope ever built. In Africa, the SKA will be built in South Africa and 8 other countries. In addition, Dr. Mokhele played an important role in South Africa being awarded the bid to host the IAU General Assembly 2024.

What followed were presentations by various committee chairs, first by the co-chair of the NOC, Dr. Charles Takalana, Professor James Chibueze, chair of the Science Committee, Dr. Sally Macfarlane, co-chair of the Outreach, Development, and Education Committee and Mr. Prospery Simpemba, co-chair of the Africa committee.

Some of the main points echoed in the session were the following:

  • Africa should show science that is impactful and significant. It is not enough to host IAU-GA if there won’t be good quality science to share.
  • with all the astronomy developments in Africa, it is of utmost importance to prioritize the empowerment and development of the African people, let the science that we do and the achievements we celebrate also reflect in our societies and benefit everyone in our communities.
  • several planned activities rely on the power of collaborations, partnerships, knowledge sharing, and most importantly, proactive members willing to commit their time, hearts, and energy to the realization of this goal.

The African community is certainly excited about this big event and all hands are on board to ensure that this is one General Assembly the world will never forget, but most importantly, the community is working on various activities and projects to ensure that IAU-GA2024 leaves a lasting legacy to the lives of the African people and the development of astronomy in our beautiful continent.

We are looking at the year ahead with a bold and audacious vision.

It’s time for Africa!