AfAS and OAD are Organising a Special Session at Science Forum South Africa

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The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is organising its seventh annual Science Forum South Africa (SFSA-2021). DSI will consequently hold the event from December 1 to December 3, 2021. The forum seeks to “Ignite Conversations about Science” to enable the formation of new partnerships. This is to put science at the service of society and includes both public-private and international partnerships.  SFSA-2021 is also committed to the purpose of furthering the pan-African scientific agenda. The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) and the International Astronomical Union Office of Astronomy for Development (IAU OAD) will present a session entitled “Advancing Africa’s Astronomy Agenda” during the forum.

Astronomy has seen substantial investment by the DSI which has consequently created several astronomy initiatives in South Africa and Africa. South Africa is home to mega-science projects capable of producing cutting edge science. These include the Meerkat telescope, MeerLICHT, Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionization Array HERA. It also includes the Hydrogen Intensity and Real-time Analysis eXperiment (HIRAX), and the High Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in Namibia. These are consequent upon Southern Africa’s leverage of its geographic advantage of dark skies. This advantage has served as a strategic driver for the development of globally competitive astronomy research programmes. In addition, the SKA project will commence construction in South Africa. 

Furthermore, prospects for the future include the African Very Long Baseline Interferometry Network (AVN) and the Africa Millimetre Telescope (AMT). Furthermore, the latter provides an essential link to the international Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Further evidence of the rapid growth of astronomy in the continent is also obvious through winning the bid to host for the first time, in Africa, the IAU General Assembly (IAU-GA) in 2024. South Africa proposed both bids as “African” bids that will in time, benefit the continent as a whole.

The DSI has supported the various foregoing initiatives through various South African astronomy agencies. They include the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) and the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). The DSI has also implemented training efforts through various Human Capital Development (HCD) programmes. An example of this is the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme (NASSP). Furthermore, the DSI supports IAU-OAD  and the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). Both entities aim to further astronomy as a tool for global sustainable development. The DSI also recently committed to hosting and supporting the Secretariat of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS). AfAS is an African voice of astronomy working to address the challenges Africa faces through promoting and advancing astronomy.

This session offers an opportunity for the key role players to demonstrate how the aforementioned initiatives are facilitating African astronomy development.  Furthermore, the session will indicate future plans which will ensure that Africa becomes a leader in astronomy internationally. It will also allow the role players to interact with one another and demonstrate how their plans align. 

Presentations and discussions during the session will focus on:

  • Current and future initiatives to grow and connect the African Astronomical community;
  • Flagship projects and involvement of participating stakeholders in science and outreach;
  • Potential roll-out and benefit of astronomy hubs on the continent;
  • Strengthening continental research collaborations through joint research projects, observations, MSc/Ph.D. student’s joint supervisions, joint proposals, etc;
  • Vision and legacy of the IAU-GA 2024.

You can register for the forum here if you intend to attend. Furthermore, registration is free so you can attend various sessions. In addition, you can contact Charles Takalana via mail or via 081 481 7416 or Kevin Govender via mail or via 082 487 8466

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