News24

SA to host astronomy office

2010-05-25 22:45

Cape Town - South Africa has been selected by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) to host the prestigious IAU Office for Astronomy Development (OAD).

It was one of 20 countries to submit bids which were evaluated by the IAU over several months before the decision was made at the IAU's 88th meeting on May 13 in Baltimore, USA.

"This represents a significant achievement not only for South Africa but for all of Africa, since this office will be the central point for using astronomy to foster education and capacity building globally over the next decade at least," National Research Foundation (NRF) president Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said in a statement on Tuesday.

"As the National Research Foundation, we are looking forward to working with the astronomy community for the benefit of astronomy development."

South Africa's proposal, submitted by the foundation through its research facility the SA Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) and endorsed by the science and technology department, proposed to host the office at the SAAO headquarters in Cape Town.

In congratulating South Africa, IAU vice-president George Miley said: "The SAAO is the prestigious home of several world-leading research telescopes, such as the Southern African Large Telescope, and has pioneered a unique programme of education and outreach at all levels.

"Located at the SAAO, the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development will be in a position to learn from the South African experience and make a fundamental contribution to furthering sustainable development globally."

SAAO director Professor Phil Charles said: "We are proud to have been selected as the host of this important venture.

"South Africa, through our department of science and technology, has clearly demonstrated its commitment to scientific research development."