OAD activities

Annual Call for Proposals
The OAD runs an annual, open call for proposals to fund projects in three areas: (i) Astronomy for Universities and Research, (ii) Astronomy for Children and Schools, and (iii) Astronomy for the Public. Proposed projects should address a problem or challenge related to sustainable development using Astronomy as a tool.
The call for applications opens each year from June to September.

Astrocomputing workshop organized by the OAD

AstroComputing explores ways in which computing skills in astronomy can be applied to other areas. One activity was a Python programming workshop targeted at non-astronomy university students. Another activity was the implementation of astronomy and educational software on a Raspberry Pi (a sub-$50 credit card sized computer) for use by teachers and students as a laptop alternative.

astroedu_logoA peer review platform for astronomy educational activities developed in partnership with UNAWE and LCOGT. AstroEDU allows educators and astronomers to submit activities in a standard format which allows for efficient distribution and use by teachers around the world. These activities are then peer-reviewed by at least two people: a professional research scientist and a professional educator

AstroPack-IAU Logo-01AstroPack
The OAD intends to gather astronomical resources for distribution around the world for free. To make this a reality, we appeal to potential donors for any astronomical resources you may be able to contribute. We also ask for those involved in educational and outreach activities to use this channel to request resources for your programmes.

AstroSense is an OAD project led by Dr. Wanda Diaz-Merced, a blind astrophysicist and computer scientist who develops software to analyze astronomical data through sound. Additionally, the OAD supports initiatives in the development of tactile astronomy resources, such as the 3D moon developed by the “Touch of the Universe” OAD-sponsored project.

Paarl Canoe ClubAstroTruck
The Astro-truck is a vehicle to promote astronomy, science and education.
The Astro-truck initiative aims to link up with existing community outreach programs in Africa as part of the WTAT. The two target audiences are the students on the truck and the public interacted with at the formal community outreach events.

The AstroVARSITY project intends to provide course and tutorial resources for Maths and Physics lecturers at undergraduate level in order to use astronomy to enhance science teaching as well as potentially start an astronomy module within their department. The project will also offer hands-on activities and exercises based on an off-the-shelf telescope and instruments package to conduct practical experiments and research.

EclipsemapPan-African Solar Eclipse 2013
On 3rd November 2013, many countries in Africa experienced a total/hybrid solar eclipse and every country on the African continent was able to see the Sun being partially obscured! Various continent-wide initiatives were held to consolidate the Pan-African intention to make the 2013 total solar eclipse, a fun and unique intra-african as well as international collaboration.

IAU XXIX GA Hawaii Logo

IAU GA 2015
The OAD coordinated a Focus Meeting (FM20) at the 2015 IAU General Assembly titled “Astronomy for Development.” The meeting focused on the global developmental impact that all aspects related to astronomy can deliver, especially on impact at university and research level; children and school level; and public outreach level. Please visit www.astronomy2015.org for more information.

IAU GA 2012

The OAD conducted a Special Session 11 (SpS11) at the IAU General Assembly, Beijing 2012 on ‘IAU Strategic Plan and the Global Office of Astronomy for Development’. For more information, please visit the website http://www.astronomy2012.org/dct/page/1.
Read the speech of then Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping at the IAU GA and about the Young Astronomer Events at the GA

Khan-Academy-logoKhan Academy in Sutherland
The project idea was to get the Khan Academy Youtube videos into an offline package. This package could be then used as an “extra Mathematics learning resource” in underprivileged schools in South Africa and the rest of Africa at a later stage. The OAD worked in collaboration with Numeric, which had already started to develop such a resource.

Cover of the IAU Astronomy for Development Strategic Plan 2010–2020, The full Plan is available for download in PDF format here (3.14 MB).

OAD First Stakeholder’s Workshop 2012
The IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) held its first stakeholders workshop from 12 – 14 December 2012 at the SAAO in Cape Town to discuss the implementation of the IAU Strategic Plan “Astronomy for the Developing World”. Fifty-five participants attended from 28 different countries. Attendees included representatives of relevant Commission 46 Program Groups, Commission 55, other IAU-endorsed activities (GTTP and Universe Awareness) and external organisations

Mentorship Programme
The mentorship program will match up volunteer Mentors (senior astronomers, engineers, communicators, etc) and potential Mentees (students, young astronomers, budding enthusiasts)

OAD budget vote exhibit 2015Remote Telescopes
This project aims to consolidate information on remote telescopes available for education and provide students at universities and schools with a pathway to access. As a first step, we are creating a database of such telescopes the students can tap into. You can view our growing list of telescopes or on the map.

science center_athlone school 4Science Center Inclusion
The OAD tean, led by Dr. Wanda Diaz, along with the SAAO outreach team and the staff at the Cape Town Science Center (CTSC) introduced Brailled signage at the Science Center as a step to making it more inclusive and accessible. The Science Center then hosted a group of students from the Athlone school for the blind.

Science Hack Day

The OAD partnered with several organisations to host the first ‘Hacking Science for Development’ event in Africa. The mission of Science Hack Day is to get excited and make things with science! A Hack Day is a 48-hour event that brings together designers, developers, scientists and other geeks in the same physical space for a brief but intense period of collaboration, hacking, and building ‘cool stuff’.

science forum 2015Science Forum South Africa 2015
As the world faces a global refugee crisis; accelerating climate change; widening wealth inequality and unprecedented levels of human trafficking, what role should scientists play? Panelists in the ‘Astronomy for Development’ thematic session reflected on how Astronomy, a classically “blue sky” field, is currently being used in initiatives that tackle SDGs, sometimes in unexpected ways, and how the impact of these initiatives is being measured. The speakers raised challenges and potentially unanswered questions about how professional scientists can engage with development most effectively and efficiently.

Telescopes to Tanzania
UNAWE Tanzania and Telescopes to Tanzania collaborate to promote Astronomy and Science Education in Tanzania. A project of Astronomers Without Borders (AWB), TtT is expanding the teaching and learning capacity in many fields, including math, chemistry, biology, and astronomy.

Toolkit: A Guide to Starting a Physics Student Society
A toolkit for setting up a physics or astronomy student club aimed at university undergraduates who wish to start their own student society. Download the toolkit with the guide and additional resources.

Transit of Venus 2012
For the 2012 Transit of Venus which occurred on June 5th/6th, the OAD was asked to serve as a collection point for the many photos, stories and experiences from all around the world.

Virtual Observatory workshops
This project is about running workshops for university level students on using the Virtual Observatory (VO). The motivation is that universities all over the world can have access to the large amount of real astronomical data available, and do world class research, provided they have the skill and an internet connection.

worldwide-telescopeWorld Wide Telescope Workshops
SAAO and the OAD invited participants to a novel astronomy experience using Microsoft Research’s WorldWide Telescope (WWT). WWT is a virtual telescope that is designed to enhance your experience in astronomical research and science education. This hands-on workshop focussed on using the WorldWide Telescope to review very large astronomical databases and image collections.