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Student Video for African Astronomy Forum

DARA Big Data have created the short video featured below, featuring students who have taken part in our workshops, hackathons and postgraduate education programme. The students, representing all of the 8 African SKA Partner countries, take turns to speak about the remit, aims and achievements of the DARA Big Data project. 














The video was made for the Forum for Astronomy in Africa, which was held at the end of October 2021. This was a collaborative meeting that brought together astronomers, scientists, students and others to discuss an exciting future event that will take place in Cape Town in 2024; the International Astronomical Union’s General Assembly (GA). This prestigious event, held every 3 years, attracts astronomers from all over the world and has never before been held on the African continent. 


The Forum was an online 3 day meeting that facilitated planning for GA2024 to ensure that it will truly represent all of Africa. More than 400 people took part in it, with participants from over 30 African countries and beyond. A Vision working document was circulated ahead of the forum with a request for contributions and ideas. The excerpt below, taken from the Vision document, sums up why the GA will be so important for Africa;


When the world descends onto African soil in 2024, what do we want them to experience? This is not simply an opportunity for astronomy, this is an opportunity to change the way the world sees Africa. When a continent so often looked down upon can lead the world in a field as technical and esoteric as astronomy, then we change perceptions, we challenge preconceptions, we shake unconscious biases – we make the world think differently about the potential of all people in the world to contribute to the human endeavour. 2024 is an opportunity like no other – it is up to us to maximise on that opportunity for the benefit of Africa and the world. We need to be “audacious” in our thinking and carry the continent forward to 2024 and beyond.


The event began with introductions from key stakeholders in South Africa’s National Research Foundation and Department for Science and Innovation. An overview of the anticipated outcomes of the forum was given by organisers Kevin Govender and Vanessa McBride from the Office of Astronomy for Development. The rest of day 1 consisted of short presentations from individuals, organisations and collaborations that work in related fields across Africa. The DARA Big Data video was featured as part of this day.


The second day was an ‘unconference’ where participants could propose their own discussion topics, with the third day a mixture of symposia, discussions, reflections on the event and the way forward. The event concluded with an updated Vision document assigning specific actions to people and organisations, in order to drive the planning forward. You can read more about this very successful event here, and find links to the participant list, programme, recordings of sessions and presentations. 

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