Draft Vision 2024

On 30th August 2018, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) announced that its 2024 General Assembly will be held in Africa. This followed a bid led by South Africa, on behalf of the continent, to bring this meeting to African soil for the first time in the IAU’s 100 year history. It was always pushed as an African bid, even though the proposed location was in Cape Town, South Africa. The support for the bid was overwhelming, and the pro-Africa spirit that prevailed was significant and memorable. This document (click here to download) attempts to capture that spirit and consolidate that support into a vision for 2024 that we can strive towards as a united astronomical community.

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[1] 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.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a working document which serves as a brainstorming exercise for the African astronomy community. It needs to be shaped by the community in order to capture bigger picture aspirations for 2024. Not everything in this document may be related to the actual IAU General Assembly but it serves to motivate supporters and funders with a vision of where we would like to be by 2024. This document was initiated by several individuals who led the bid for 2024, in order to simply have a starting point. It was then circulated among the IAU National Committee for South Africa (host country for 2024) for consideration and dissemination. The document is now an open work in progress and is meant to belong to the African astronomy community. Please help to shape this vision by sending your thoughts, comments, input or suggestions to astro24@saao.ac.za.

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[1] “us” and “we” refer to all those, from Africa and beyond, who take on the joint responsibility to prepare the continent, and the world, for Astronomy2024.