The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) has released Volume 1, Issue 2 of the AfAS Newsletter, detailing activities of the society so far this year. The Newsletter opens with an address from the President, Prof Jamal Mimouni, who had an optimistic tone. He notes, among other things, that “many changes are currently underway at AfAS, our strategy is guided by our long-term vision and efforts of the various sub-committees. The office of the Secretariat has been established, and earlier this year we announced that the Society had been entrusted with the responsibility to provide management/organisational oversight for Pan-African astronomy initiatives, including the African Planetarium Association (APA), the African-European Radio Astronomy Program (AERAP), and African Science Stars”.
The Newsletter covered important updates like the AfAS collaboration with the International Astronomical Union/National Research Foundation Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), on a call for proposals for projects (or partnerships) that in some way use astronomy, in any of its aspects (including skills, methodologies, tools, infrastructure, inspiration or even just networks of astronomers/enthusiasts themselves) to help reduce
some of the negative effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The three astronomy organisations – OAD, AfAS, and APA – provided funding for the projects to enable communities to overcome some of the effects of the pandemic. A total of 43 projects were selected and granted a sum of 804,443 ZAR (approximately €40 000).
A list of all projects funded under this call can be found at http://www.astro4dev.org/results-of-extraordinary-call-for-covid-19-related-proposals/
A list of proposals that were reviewed but not funded can be viewed at http://www.astro4dev.org/other-proposals-submitted-to-covid-19-extraordi-
Consequently, the Annular Solar Eclipse 2020 was discussed, along with the impact of the pandemic on sky-gazing. Another event that suffered because of the pandemic was the AfAS conference. The AfAS Executive Committee (EC) decided to postpone the inaugural conference of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS2020) that was scheduled for the 16th- 17th of March 2020 as a result of the outbreak. The decision to postpone the conference arose from the need to protect the well-being of the attendees as well as the community at large. The AfAS EC apologised for any inconvenience caused by the postponement and has set a new date for the conference of the 8th -11th of March 2021. The committee is optimistic that the conference can be held in South Africa, although with a reduced number of attendees to minimise any further risks of transmission of the virus.
For more information, please contact the AfAS office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The third edition of the “EUREKA” prize for the promotion of education and scientific popularisation, was awarded for the year 2019 to the two researchers, Jamal Mimouni (President of AfAS), of Algerian nationality, and François Taddei, of French nationality. It took place at the Cité des Sciences in Tunis on Thursday, 27 February 2020, in partnership between the «Cité des Sciences» (CST), the Professional Network of Scientific Technical and Industrial Cultures (AMCSTI, France), and the “Med 21” program. These laureates were chosen by a commission created in 2017, for their efforts in the field of the dissemination
of scientific culture and the popularisation of science in the countries of the Mediterranean basin.
Several events, training, summits, and projects have been executed between the last Newsletter and this current one. All updates can be found here.