Developing Astronomy in Africa

1.  Email lists

Anyone interested in developing astronomy in Africa is encouraged to join the Astronomy in Africa email list (write to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for more information). There are also regional lists (eastafrica and westafrica) for more region specific discussons. Consolidated updates sent to the Africa email list will be placed on this page (see 5 below) until a more permanent home is established.

2.  Meetings

Meetings held to discuss astronomy in Africa. Usually held in Cape Town physically and linked to the rest of Africa and the world via Skype.

30th April 2010: full recording of meeting available (19MB file) or download the minutes (62kB pdf file)


3.  10 Year Plan for Developing Astronomy in Africa

Through numerous discussions with people from across Africa a draft plan has been established for the development of astronomy in Africa over the next decade. This plan is still fluid and open for comment. It is expected that each region in Africa would develop plans which would largely align with this 10 year structure but which would be very specific to their respective regions. Everything should always be in line with the IAU's decadal strategy for astronomy development. Please download the draft (63kB doc file) and send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


4.  African Astronomical Society

The establishment of this society is still underway and open for discussion and input. It was conceived at the launch of the African Physical Society in Dakar in January 2010. Those willing to contribute are encouraged to download the White Paper (28kB pdf file) and send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


5.  Consolidated Updates

Update sent on 19-04-2010:

1. Grants from the "Developing Astronomy Globally" cornerstone of 1000 Euro max to develop astronomy have gone to: Uganda; Ethiopia; Gabon; Rwanda; Kenya; Nigeria. We are currently processing grants to Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania. Some reports that have come in can be found on

2. There was a "Developing Astronomy in East Africa" workshop held in Kenya last November. We'd like something similar to happen in West Africa. In the meantime the East African Astronomy society continues to develop regional plans for astronomy development in East Africa. The report from this workshop is available upon request.

3. There has been a great project conducted in Senegal by John Bohannon and Katrien Kolenberg taking telescopes to remote villages. Read more at

4. We're working on getting Galileoscopes (cheap good IYA2009 telescopes) delivered to Cape Town for distribution around Africa.

5. Celestron has donated telescopes for Africa which we're also trying to raise transport funds for (~$2000) to bring them into South Africa for distribution to certain other African countries.

6. Students from Madagascar have run a preliminary programme over the holidays to stimulate astronomy in Madagascar. They will be presenting a report soon. More information available upon request.

7. There have been a few proposals to host the IAU Office for Astronomy development in different countries in Africa - South Africa and Nigeria are two options. If this office comes to Africa it will mean big things for astronomy development on the continent. More details available upon request.

8. There is a draft 10-year plan for Astronomy in Africa on the table which we'd like each region to adopt and adapt in making a regional plan for astronomy development. This plan was sent out to this list before but if you would like another copy please email me.

9. An interesting activity taking shape in South Africa is a workshop on proposal writing for MSc and PhD students. Since many of the astronomy students in South Africa are from all over the continent, this workshop will prove useful in developing astronomy in Africa.

10. A process is underway to establish a NASSP Alumni group (NASSP = National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme and trains many African Astronomers). This group would ensure that the close working relationships built while African astronomers are students, are maintained into their careers.

Update sent on 12-05-2010:


1.   Minutes from the Astronomy in Africa Skype meeting held on 30-04-2010 are now available at Thanks to Abiy Tekola for preparing them.


2.   African Astronomical Society: The establishment of this society is still underway and open for discussion and input. It was conceived at the launch of the African Physical Society in Dakar in January 2010. Those willing to contribute are encouraged to download the White Paper ( and send comments to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


3.   The IAU's NASE (Network for Astronomy School Education) is looking for contacts in Africa for a programme in 2011. Rosa Ros, the chair of the programme, has summarised the call in the following 10 points (website and contacts in point 10):
1) We organise teacher’s training courses for primary and secondary school teachers. The course is for science teachers without background in astronomy.
2) We want to cooperate with an institution in the hosted country such as: observatory, university or similar. Institution connected with the Ministry of Education.
3) We prepare all the materials of the course in English or French or Portuguese. The materials are very practical. Participants in the course learn by doing and the idea is that they teach by doing. All the participants in the course will receive the book and a CD with all the information. They can use these materials in their classes in their schools.
4) We are interested in a group of professors and teachers in the country (4 or 5 with a chair). "NASE in the country". They will continue with the courses and they will create complementary materials for teachers.
5) The first year 2 or 3 members of IAU- NASE program will visit the country and they will teach the course in cooperation with the members of "NASE in the country". For instance, a workshop will be taught by one of the IAU-NASE members and in the following session by one of the "NASE in the country" members. The main objective is that next year only 1 person of IAU-NASE will visit the country and in following editions "NASE in the country" members can teach the entire course, of course with the support of IAU-NASE on-line.
6) The institution in the country has to select the group of participants the course and coordinate with the Ministry of Education that the course certificate will be useful for teachers’ professional carriers.
7) IAU-NASE will pay for travel expenses for visitors from other countries.
8) Local institution will pay for meals and accommodation and local transport (if it is necessary).
9) To begin to work we need
a) the name of the country interested,
b) the name of the institution interested and
c) the name of the chair of the NASE in the country team.
10) Please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it , chair of NASE
At present the website has Spanish materials for South America. We are working in other languages!


4.   Upcoming conferences:
4.1.   IAU Symposium No. 277 - Tracing the Ancestry of Galaxies; 13-17 December 2010; Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (
4.2.   Astronomy & Astrophysics Workshop; 16-17 June 2010; Constantine, Algeria (
4.3.   Science with Africa II conference; 23-25 June 2010; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (
4.4.   E-learning Africa; 26-28 May 2010; Lusaka, Zambial (
4.5.   WICE-2010 Conference; 19-20 May 2010; Amman, Jordan (


5.   Email lists for East and West Africa have been established in order to have regional discussions and move astronomy forward in these regions. If you or anyone you know would like to be added to one of these regional email lists please let me know.


6.   Summary of Katrien Kolenberg (KK) and John Bohannon (JB) activities in Senegal:

Jan-Feb 2010:
Jan 11-16, 2010: KK and JB attended African Laser, Atomic, Molecular and Optical Sciences Network (LAM Network) meeting, organized under the direction of Prof, Ahmadou Wague. During this meeting, the African Physical Society was founded.
There was a special session on astronomy and the SKA. KK presented activities of the IAU, and TAD, PGWWDA.
meeting with University professors and the rector of the Unversity Cheikh Anta Diop to plan TAD efforts.
Jan 18-30, 2010: Galileo in Senegal project
Feb 1-30, 2010: Galileoscope workshop at the University of Dakar (UCADII), more lectures by KK at schools and cultural centers in Dakar

JB and KK working on articles + documentary film "Galileo in Senegal"

May 2010:
KK in Dakar. I plan to give some lectures at schools and in the framework of the DAK'ART Biennale (art fair - download programme at Two of these talks are in the program for Dak'Art OFF.
May 12:
International School Ste. Marie de Hann, Dakar: "Voyage autour des modes extraterrestres"
University of Dakar: "L'Art et l'Astronomie"
May 13:
Centre Culturel Douta Seck: "Art-Astronomie-Afrique"
Announced in the framework of the Biennale. Many amateur astronomers will attend this talk; they hold their meetings at this cultural center.
At the University I will follow up on the first workshop and plan my TAD lectures that I hope to give this coming autumn.

Autumn 2010:
JB and KK plan to return to Senegal, follow-up on "Galileo in Senegal", hope to show the movie.
KK: up to one month  of TAD at the University of Dakar for school teachers and university students (and anyone interested!)
I plan to give two courses, a very basic one and a higher-level one (for physics students).

Download the

7.   Upcoming events in Mauritius from This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it :

Please find below short info on coming events in Mauritius for 10-11 June 2010 (Local event) and June 2011 (Regional for Africa): (sorry, pasted from email to my colleagues, some info may not be relevant for you.)

* For the `Wonders of the Southern Sky' 2 day workshop and exhibition (10-11 June 2010),  anyone wishing to help is most welcome. It is for popularisation of Astronomy and public can attend including secondary school students and primary school teachers.  Talks will be given not only by MRT people and Prof Thierry Brierre, but also by our students. Some of our students will later also give talks/organise activities in primary schools abit like we did in 2005 for the WYP.  There will also be a Public Star Gazing night at MRT on FRiday 11th night. The stay of Prof. Brierre will be funded from IYA funds while Reunion Univ is paying his air-fare. I am taking care of  arrangements for his stay and official invitation as IYA coordinator (we are now in the beyond IYA in fact!).

* Concerning collaboration with Reunion Univ, for teaching Astrophysics, Their Head of Dept wishes to be represented by Miloud Bessafi who is more appropriate for discussing about this particular collaboration. He is also free to come for same period as Prof Brierre i.e 9th June to 14th June.  I understand that Girish (as Head of Dept) will be taking care of arrangements for his visit.
* If required, I can try to make a request as Head of MRT for funding under `MRT short term Visitor vote', unless Girish has alternative proposals to make for funding his visit. Note that his air-fare will also be paid by Univ. de la Reunion. When I am booking the hotel for Thierry Brierre, I can book for Miloud Bessafi as well if needed.

* For the IAU 1 week  TAD workshop/school on  Radioastronomy Techniques in  June 2011, it is a regional one for training African Astronomers in  areas like Radio Interferometry & Imaging & Pulsar Observing Techniques .  Lecturers at this event will be coming from different countries (e.g Prof Hundstead from Australia, Our ex Colleague Dr Kumar Golap from USA  + MRT  people.).  We have to form a LOC and an international SOC. Aim is to finalise request for IAU funds  by June-July 2010.

Will keep you informed.

Dr Nalini Heeralall-Issur
Assoc. Prof. Dept of  Physics
Head, MRT & co-ordinator at UoM for IYA activities
Ph. 403-7488,  494-2380



Last Updated on Friday, 24 September 2010 11:48
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