The 4th Annual Conference of the African Astronomical Society to be held in Morocco

Source: AfAS

In a press release by the African Astronomical Society (AfAS), the society announced its 4th Annual Conference at Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco, from 15 to 20 April 2024. This is the first time the AfAS annual conference will be held outside of the Secretariat’s host country, South Africa, since its relaunch at the Astronomy in Africa meeting in March 2019 in Cape Town. 

According to Dr Meryem Guennoun, the Communication and Marketing Coordinator of the AfAS-2024 conference, “This decision underscores a commitment to a pan-African vision, strengthening collaboration and promoting scientific dialogue within the African astronomical community.”

“Our reach to African countries that previously had no astronomy activities has expanded; we have earmarked part of our budget to support and co-partner with various groups that host regional astronomy schools which are geared towards existing postgraduate students to consider research in astronomy”, commented, Professor Thebe Medupe, AfAS President.

The African Astronomical Society (AfAS) conference serves as a unique platform for African astronomers, researchers, astronomy students, educators, and amateur astronomers to convene. It offers an opportunity to share insights into cutting-edge astronomy research and foster collaborations, particularly given the rising momentum in astronomy activities and the development of astronomy infrastructures across the continent. The celebration in Morocco underscores the significant role and steadfast dedication to advancing astronomy, spotlighting the strides and accomplishments accomplished over the last five years within the African community.

The 4th Annual Conference will feature an impressive line-up of over 130 talks and over 110 posters, covering a diverse range of topics in Science as well as Education, Development, and Outreach (EDO), empowering marginalised communities through inclusive astronomy education, other highlights include updates on the status of the African Integrated Observation System, etc. Attendees can expect to engage with advanced research presentations, interactive workshops, and insightful panel discussions led by experts in the field. 

Moreso, in collaboration with the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA), the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), BRICS Intelligent Telescope and Data Network, and AfAS, the parties will organise a two-day Data Science Hackathon under the Hack4Dev project. The hackathon is scheduled for 21-22 April 2024, following the AfAS conference. Attendees will engage in hands-on activities and tackle challenges utilising the state-of-the-art South African Ilifu data-intensive infrastructure cloud facility, which supports astronomy and other scientific fields. 

Furthermore, the local organising committee in Morocco has organised various outreach events for conference delegates. These include a stargazing session for high school students at a boarding school, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) training, an interactive workshop tailored for elementary-level participants, and an “Ask an Astronomer” session focusing on exploring science careers, designed for middle and high school students. Anticipated outcomes of this gathering include the forging of new partnerships, the empowerment of women in science, and the enhancement of education on astronomy developments in Africa.

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