The third annual conference of the African Astronomical Society (AfAS) will take place as a hybrid event from 13 to 17 March 2023 at the University of the Witwatersrand Centre for Astrophysics, Johannesburg. The conference talks will cover science, outreach, communication, development and education activities originating from astronomy in Africa.
The purpose of the gathering is to enhance further collaborations among African countries and the rest of the world. AfAS organise the conference in partnership with the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD), the University of the Witwatersrand, the African Science Stars Awareness Publication (ASSAP), the African Planetarium Association (APA), and the African-European Radio Astronomy Platform (AERAP). The University of the Witwatersrand Vice-Chancellor Zeblon Vilakazi will open the conference.
Some of the topics that are very important to AfAS are “the status of astronomy infrastructure and AfAS-led flagship projects. Since Africa has a huge astronomy footprint, it is vital to use astronomy for development to create opportunities and initiatives to attract and retain youth together with women in astronomy while also strengthening existing activities in the field,” said Prof Thebe Medupe, president of AfAS. “The conference will bring together over 300 participants, with some 100 participants attending in person at the University of the Witwatersrand Origins Centre in Johannesburg, and the remainder will be attending virtually. Even though our Society comprises mostly African members, the registrations reveal that attendees will be from other countries outside the continent,” Prof Thebe concluded. Each year, the conference attracts representatives from government, policymakers, inter-governmental, and other international partners from across the continent and the diaspora who enrich our discussions.
The conference will have numerous special sessions, including a session organised by the African Network for Women in Astronomy (AfNWA), one of the AfAS committees recently announcing the newly named “Prof. Carolina Ödman Early Career Award” awarded to Dr Al-Shaimaa Hassanin. In addition, the National Organising Committee of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly will also have a session focusing on flagship projects for the development of astronomy in Africa aligned with the goals of the IAU-GA2024 and beyond.
The last day of the AfAS-2023 conference is dedicated to the astronomy in Africa business meeting, which will allow the AfAS Executive Committee and its sub-committees, together with its partners (ASSAP & AERAP), to report on activities over the last three years and the planned activities for the coming three years. In addition, DARA Big Data, in conjunction with AfAS and partners of the Hack4dev project, is organising a three-day Data Science hackathon event at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.
The hackathon event follows the conference and will take place from 18 to 20 March 2023; it targets undergraduate and postgraduate students and young professionals residing from across Africa to develop skills in data science and machine learning and focus on how they can use the skills to contribute to addressing the challenges faced by Africa. The conference will also feature a mobile planetarium playing Sida Tsoatsoas (Our Beginning), the first African-produced digital planetarium film to feature Indigenous African Starlore, and a Wits Centenary film commissioned for the ground-breaking event of the Wits Anglo-American Digital Dome.
Registration for the conference is free and open to astronomers from Africa and the rest of the world; several keynote speakers who are internationally recognised have been invited, as well as the Ministry of Science and Innovation in South Africa.
Visit here for more information about the conference.
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