What to expect

Scientific sessions

With more than 200 scientific sessions, the IAU General Assembly 2024 will undoubtedly be a very busy time. With invited discourses from Dr Bernie Fanaroff, Prof Natalie Batalha and Prof Joop Schaye, and Kavli, Shaw, Gruber and Nobel Prize winners, there will surely be something for everyone.

Innovative and Hybrid

All scientific sessions will be accessible to in-person and online participants. Both oral talks and posters can be presented and watched in person as well as online. We’re aiming for a rewarding virtual experience with an immersive online space for networking, remote presentations, remote posters, Q&A by video, mobile Zoom rooms (where someone walks the virtual participants around the venue), a live Zoom room in the exhibition hall where people in Cape Town can walk up to a screen and talk to virtual participants, etc.


Reinventing poster sessions

The poster sessions will aim to be truly hybrid. Each screen will display an A1 landscape poster in front of which the poster author can stand and meet people as they browse the posters in the traditional way.

The significant difference, however, will be that each screen will also be a Zoom room with a camera and microphone. In this way, online participants can enter a specific poster’s Zoom room and interact with the poster author standing in front of the screen.

Open Access

For the first time, the IAU General Assembly will be open access. It means that anyone in the world will be able to follow all the talks online, for free. We hope this model is adopted by other conferences so that we may inspire the next generation of scientists globally.

The Open Access stream will offer passive participation in the conference i.e. watch the talks live or recorded. If you are interested in participating in the conference online, please purchase a Virtual Ticket. This provides access to the conference platform, the ability to present your talk or poster virtually, interact with other participants, ask questions in the talks, attend networking and virtual social events, view exhibitions, join the official Slack channel etc.


Public Talk by astronaut Dr Sian Proctor

Join us for an unforgettable evening as Dr. Sian Proctor, geoscience professor, Afrofuturism artist, and trailblazing astronaut from SpaceX Inspiration4, takes the stage at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Wednesday 7 August at 19:30 SAST. 

Please note: IAU GA 2024 participants get free admission. https://astronomy2024.org/journey-into-space-with-astronaut-dr-sian-proctor/

A live link to the International Space Station

Speak live to the astronauts on board the International Space Station (for about 10 minutes)! We are collaborating with the ‘Amateur Radio on the International Space Station’ (ARISS) group to connect live to astronauts in space via ham radio. The event is targeted at schools but open to all conference participants. Questions from schools will be answered live by the ISS astronauts.

Side events

A large number of scientific meetings, workshops, hackathons are being planned as side events, in addition to the main scientific programme. They present opportunities for further engagement, learning and collaboration amongst researchers from across the world.


Unconference Sessions

In the exhibition area, there will also be a stage and seating for “Unconference sessions” which will allow for talks to be proposed and voted upon during the GA. Unconference sessions are an excellent way for participants to take to a stage and present any work/topic that is new and/or of interest to the other participants.

Outreach and Public Engagement

There have been over 600 delegates who have volunteered to engage with the public and schools during their visit to South Africa. You can explore the programme and sign up to engage here: https://astronomy2024.org/outreach-and-education/

Pop-up radio station

In collaboration with a popular radio host, a pop-up radio station will be installed at the venue. This will allow conference participants to share their research with the broader public. The content will be streamed online and shared freely with community radio stations globally, recognising that community radio has by far the greatest reach in many parts of the world, and certainly in Africa.



The pop-up market at the GA will be a vibrant marketplace that offers a platform for local makers, vendors, and crafters to showcase and sell their handmade goods and local innovative products to a global audience. The market not only provides a unique and authentic shopping experience for conference participants but also supports local entrepreneurs and will have a positive socio-economic impact, while highlighting the rich cultural heritage and artisanal talent in Cape Town and South Africa.

Technical Tours

South Africa has plenty of astronomy facilities that can be visited by conference participants before, during, and after the conference. Booking and other information at https://astronomy2024.org/technical-tours/.

Social Events

Join us for our conference social events which aim to offer an enlightening and engaging experience in African culture. Prepare to unwind and have a fun-filled time. Apart from the usual receptions, there will be a cultural evening of song and storytelling; and we are also planning a talent night for participants “Astronomer’s Got Other Talents”.

Art exhibition

An art exhibition called Shared Skies from the Square Kilometre Array Organisation (SKAO) will be on display for the duration of the conference. This is an international indigenous art/astronomy exhibition that stems from a vision by the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) to bring together ‘under one sky’ Aboriginal Australian and South African artists in a collaborative exhibition celebrating humanity’s ancient cultural wisdom.

Meeting Pods

We understand that participants always need space for impromptu meetings and discussions with colleagues and potential collaborators. Meeting pods of varying sizes in the exhibition hall will be made available for booking by all participants.