Space & Astronomy day

Bringing together the space and astronomy communities
24 March 2019, Sunday, Cape Town

Joint event of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) and Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC)
Hosted by South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO)
Sponsored by Department of Science and Technology (DST)

South Africa is a bustling centre for astronomy research as well as the space industry. Given the many overlaps between the two sectors, we are bringing the astronomy and space communities together for an informal day of learning and interaction. We hope that this leads to more communication and closer collaboration between the communities.

In choosing the date and venue, we are taking advantage of the upcoming ‘Astronomy in Africa’ meeting on 25-26 March, which will bring astronomy stakeholders from around the continent. Several African countries have close ties between space and astronomy sectors and their experiences will be valuable to the meeting.


  • Bring together space and astronomy communities, researchers and students
  • Identify commonalities that can be taken advantage of: resources, data, projects, human capacity and others

Outcomes expected:

  • Ideas for joint work/projects
  • Improved communication between space and astronomy communities
  • Follow up regular, informal gatherings

Date: 24 March 2019, Sunday, 10am to 5pm, followed by networking braai at the venue, 5:30pm to 8:00pm

Venue: South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) Auditorium,
1 observatory road, Observatory,
Cape Town 7925
(gated campus right next to the River Club; report to security at the gate)

Registration: Registration is free of cost and on a first-come, first-served basis. Please register by March 20.

Registration Link

Audience: Open to those studying and working in space and astronomy/astrophysics- university students, professionals from academia and industry, amateurs etc. Since this is a 1-day event, majority of local participants are expected to be from Cape Town and surrounding areas. They will be joined by international participants coming to Cape Town for the ‘Astronomy in Africa‘ meeting.

Program (tentative):

10:00 – 10:30: Welcome

10:30 – 11:00: Introductions: Pitch yourself and/or your idea in 30 seconds

11:00 – 12:00: Invited Speakers

12:00 – 13:30: Session 1: Introductory talks and Discussions *

13:30 – 14:30: Lunch & Vote topics for Session 2

14:30 – 16:00: Session 2: Unconference discussions (parallel) **

16:00 – 16:30: Presentation of unconference summaries

16:30 – 17:00: Preparing for 2024- long term vision for astronomy & space to work together

17:30 – 20:00: Networking braai (sponsored)

* Session 1 is meant to stimulate conversation and discussion across the communities. Any particular ideas identified will be further discussed in Session 2. Following is a list of suggested topics to initiate discussion.

space and astronomy: fruitful partnerships

  • How/where do you see the space and astronomy sectors in South Africa and rest of Africa working closer together to benefit from each other’s strengths and competencies? How can we optimize the use of resources – data, human capacity, funds etc?
  • You are encouraged to think of specific ideas you can pitch for discussion at the meeting. These can be in research/academia, industry, education/outreach etc.

space and astronomy: young professionals & students focus

  • Common challenges, support systems across space & astronomy, especially students’ point of view
  • What opportunities are available – jobs, internships, student projects?
  • Thoughts and recommendations from student and young professional experiences

If you want to include other relevant topics in space technology, exploration, astronomy etc., please email your ideas to Ramasamy Venugopal, by March 15.

** At the end of Session 1, participants will be encouraged to write down topic ideas which will be voted on by everyone. The most popular topics will be discussed in the afternoon in Session 2.


Ramasamy Venugopal,
Office of Astronomy for Development,
South African Astronomical Observatory,
Cape Town