The World’s Largest International Astronomy Meeting will be held in Africa and Open to the Public for the first time!
Registrations Now Open for the Historic International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly 2024 Promoting Open, Impactful, and Sustainable Science
The National Organising Committee of the 32nd International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly (GA) is excited to announce that registrations are now officially open for the IAU GA 2024. This pivotal event marks a groundbreaking moment as the triennial IAU GA will, for the first time ever, adopt an open-access format. From August 6 to 15, 2024, individuals around the globe will have the unprecedented opportunity to access live talks presented at the assembly remotely. Set to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, it will be held in Africa for the first time in the more than 100-year history of the body.
This approach is nothing short of historic, and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) as the host, supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and African Astronomical Society (AfAS), will be leading what is hoped will become a trend in all scientific conferencing. The registration fees of paying delegates (either physical or virtual) will contribute towards this open access principle, such that the general public, or any student in any university, may listen in completely free of charge. Only paying delegates will be able to present talks, ask questions in real time, interact with other speakers/delegates, and engage in associated activities. Having open access means that the IAU GA 2024 could potentially have one of the largest audiences of this type of scientific conference. This will be an opportunity for researchers to reach large numbers of people and multiply the impact of their research, even attracting potential new collaborators, students, and young researchers from diverse backgrounds.
In the spirit of pioneering a future-focused scientific dialogue, three core aspects will define the ethos of the 32nd IAU General Assembly. First is ‘Accessibility’ — we are championing inclusive participation not only through the open access principle but also through innovative hybrid conferencing, ensuring that those scientists and students unable to travel can still meaningfully engage with the frontiers of astronomical research. This commitment extends to fostering a family-friendly conference environment so that in-person delegates can manage their familial responsibilities without compromising their professional engagement.
Secondly, we emphasise ‘Impact’ on a multidimensional level. Scientifically, we aim to amplify research impact and forge lasting collaborations via novel networking initiatives. Societally, we seek to involve local small businesses and artists, providing them with a global stage which translates into growth and community enrichment, and an opportunity for delegates to experience and engage with the remarkable African spirit and culture. Furthermore, delegates will be presented with opportunities across the continent, for hands-on contributions to educational initiatives, outreach programs, and community development, cementing the legacy of the assembly beyond academia.
Lastly, ‘Environmental Sustainability’ stands as a cornerstone of our assembly’s responsibility. In today’s climate-conscious era, we confront the pressing question: “Is it environmentally justifiable to attend this meeting?” Our response is an emphatic commitment to minimising our ecological footprint as much as possible. We’re considering measures from offering carbon credit offsets for travel, to innovative solutions for reducing food waste, to engaging in discussions that drive action towards building climate-resilient societies.
This IAU General Assembly will be historic for more reasons than simply being the first to be held on African soil. It’s also an opportunity for us all to reinvent entrenched practices within science systems. As Africa welcomes the world to Cape Town in 2024, we invite you to journey with us to re-imagine the future of scientific interaction!
By intertwining these core values, the 32nd IAU General Assembly transcends being a mere venue for presenting astronomical research, to transforming into a platform that advocates accessible knowledge, meaningful societal impact, and a commitment to environmental stewardship.
The organising committee is confident that in-person participants will find their time in South Africa to be stimulating, enriching, and enjoyable; that virtual participants will have an effective and rewarding online conference experience; and that the general public all around the world will freely and directly connect to the latest developments in astronomy. We have put together a scientific conference program that will address every aspect of astronomy, including the leading role that Africa and its people are playing in this field, all in the pursuit of contributing to human endeavour, where ALL are invited to partake.
IAU GA 2024 National Organising Committee Chair
IAU GA 2024 National Organising Committee Communications
Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Director of Communications
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