The AFIPS at EAS2020 meeting

The African Initiative for Planetary and Space Sciences was presented by David Baratoux (IRD) on June 20th at the European Astronomical Society Meeting as a contribution to the session SS15a – Africa-European collaborations in astronomy and space science: room to grow.

Download here the presentation in pdf

During the same session, Mamadou NDIAYE (Nice Observatory) presented the project RISE 5A (Arising Astronomy and Astrophysics Across Africa (5A): expanding collaborations between European and African researchers through the RISE program) recently submitted to the European Research Council and Adbelmadjid BENHIDA (University Cadi Ayyad) presented a contribution entitled “The Moroccan challenge and asset for Cooperation in Astronomy between African and European researchers”.

Download the presentation in pdf format

Download the presentation in pdf format


The Moroccan National Outreach Committee (NOC) for the dissemination of Astronomy to the General Public has been restructured recently

Morocco is experiencing a growing dynamic in the field of astronomy. This dynamic was initiated more than thirty years ago by scientists and amateurs. Thus, our country is represented in the International Astronomical Union (IAU) by Cadi Ayyad University through a national committee (NCA) chaired by Prof. Benkhaldoun Zouhair, Director of the Oukaimeden Observatory. Similarly, Morocco has a National Committee NOC to coordinate the dissemination of astronomy to the general public.  This committee is the principal outreach national interlocutor and representative appointed under the IAU outreach structure. This committee has recently coordinated the operation of nomenclature of exoplanets (http://marrakech-astro.uca.ma/mar-exoworlds/index.html) which led to the selection and adoption of the names Isli and Tislit respectively for the star WASP-161 and its exoplanet WASP-161b.

Today the NOC Morocco is further structured by formalizing its members and appointing a national coordinator, Dr Meriem El Yajouri, PhD in astrophysics from Paris Observatory, president of the association SpaceBus Morocco and member of the steering committee of the African Initiative of Planetary and Space Science. 

The main objectives of this committee are as follows:

  • To play its role as an effective interface with the IAU by diffusing the various IAU announcements and calls for proposals.
  • Coordination of activities to raise awareness, promote astronomy and make science more interesting to young students and the general public in Morocco.
  • To bring help and support to the civil society in Morocco as well as to the resource persons in the field of outreach.
  • To generalize and encourage the organization of all activities and events related to astronomy and space science including Astronomy Festivals in the different regions of Morocco.

The members of this committee are

Bani Abdelhafid, Rabat Astronomy Association, Fun Astronomy.
Belhaj Zakaria, HPS Foundation, SpaceBus Morocco association.
Benkhaldoun Zouhair, Professor Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech, Director of the Oukaimeden Observatory, AFIPS Scientific Advisory Committee Member
Boskri Abdelkarim, PhD-student in astrophysics at Cadi Ayyad University
Chennaoui Hasnaa, Professor Hassan II University of Casablanca, President ATTARIK Foundation, AFIPS member in charge of Relations with the public and the media
El Azhari Youssef, Director of the National Centre for Pedagogical Innovation and Experimentation, Morocco. 
El Yajouri Meriem, Doctor in Astrophysics, SpaceBus Morocco association, AFIPS Steering committee.
Darhmaoui Hassane, Professor, Al Akhawayn University. 
Nail Naima, Vega/ Moroccan Association of Astronomy and Space Sciences.
Talibi Hassan, Islamic Crescents Observation Project.


Twitter: @nocmorocco


MATERNA – Mobility in Africa for Training, Education and Research: Network for Astrophysics

The African Initiative for Planetary and Space Science is glad to announce the submission of the project “MATERNA – Mobility in Africa for Training, Education and Research: Network for Astrophysics” to the Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme”.This project is led by Abdelmajid BENHIDA from the University Cadi Ayyad (Marrakech, Morocco) and includes several funding members of the African Initiative for Planetary and Space Science. The Institutions of 9 countries are participating (Morocco, Ethiopia, Kenya, Ouganda, South Africa, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Belgium and France – the University of Nice being the technical partner -).

The acronym “MATERNA” reminds us that Astronomy is the Mother of Sciences and plays an important role in the training of the young generation in many scientific disciplines. This project aims to facilitate the mobility of African PhD and master students between African Institutions to complete their training within a network of an Universities and Research Centers that are leading the development of Astronomy in Africa. This submission is an important step moving forward the construction of a community of Astrophysicists in Africa !

Good luck to the new project and congratulations the the MATERNA team !


Astronomy and Astrophysics Arising Across Africa (5A)

The African Initiative for Planetary and Space Science is glad to announce the submission of the project “Astronomy and Astrophysics Arising Across Africa (5A)” to the Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) Call: H2020-MSCA-RISE-2020.

This project is led by Eric Lagadec and Mamadou Ndiaye, two members of the AFIPS committees from the Côte d’Azur Observatory in France. AFIPS, launched in 2017, had the ambition to contribute to the building of a community of researchers in planetary and space science in Africa, and this project is clearly making a decisive step forward: the project was elaborated and improved via weekly virtual meeting involving researchers from Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and Spain.

Its success would allow:

– the attribution of visiting positions for researchers belonging to institutions from the participating African and European countries (500 months allocated in total).

– the organization of 7 workshops across Africa and the Canary Islands.

– The support to existing and in-progress African Astronomical observatories and network of observatories between Africa and Europe.

– Research activities in the wide areas of Astronomy and space sciences, including planetary sciences, stellar physics, extragalactic science.

– The creation of new dark sky reserves in Africa, based on the experience of Morocco and France in this domain.

Project leaders
Eric Lagadec (eric.lagadec@oca.eu), Mamadou Ndiaye (mamadou.ndiaye@oca.eu)
Work package leaders
Planetary Sciences: David Baratoux (david.baratoux@ird.fr), Salma Sylla (salma.sylla@ucad.edu.sn)
Stellar and Solar Physics: Katrien Kolenberg (katrien.kolenberg@kuleuven.be), Shazrene Mohamed (shazrene@saao.ac.za)
Galactic and Extragalactic Science: Mirjana Pović (mpovic@iaa.es), Rubén García-Benito (rgb@iaa.es)
Instrumentation and Site Testing: Mamadou N’Diaye (mamadou.ndiaye@oca.eu), Zouhair Benkhaldoun (zouhair@uca.ac.ma)
Inclusion in Astronomy: Paola Marziani (paola.marziani@inaf.it), Somaya Mohamed Saad (saadmhsaad@gmail.com)
Outreach, dissemination and communication: Eric Lagadec (eric.lagadec@oca.eu), Zacharie Kam (szachkam@gmail.com)

Best wishes of success to this project !


On the Moon again – 2020 Edition

Dear Moon Observer,We are really excited to announce the 2020 On the Moon Again Edition!

Save the date: June 26 to 28

Please register here: www.onthemoonagain.org and check out materials to publicize your event.

We hope you’ll be with us again for this edition. There were more than 1,300 public events in 77 countries last year! We need your help to reach more and more moon observers in your country. Be On the Moon Again ambassadors!

Please, follow us and share our posts on social media.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/onthemoonagain
Twitter: https://twitter.com/onmoonagain
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/onthemoonagain/


OISA 2020 “Spectroscopy in Astrophysics”


We are pleased to announce that the Sixth Oukaimeden International School for Astrophysics (OISA) will take place in Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco from Monday, April 13th to Friday, April 17, 2020. OISA is a thematic doctoral school proposed by the Laboratory of High Energy Physics and Astrophysics (LPHEA) and the Oukaimeden Observatory. This edition will be organized in the framework of VLIRUOS project, a cooperation program between Antwerp University (Belgium) and Cadi Ayyad University (Morocco). The scope of this edition of the school covers the following fields:

• Spectroscopy of variable stars
• Near Earth Objects spectroscopy
• Radial Velocity for exoplanets
• Spectroscopy instrumentation
• Practical sessions of data processing

More information on http://marrakech-astro.uca.ma/oisa2020/


In pursuit of Ultima Thule in Senegal

On January 1, 2019, the American space probe New Horizons flew over the Thule Ultima asteroid. Located far beyond the planets of the Solar System, it is the most distant object ever explored by a human-made spacecraft.

A few months before the flight, American, Senegalese and French astronomers gathered in Senegal to prepare this unprecedented meeting more than 6 billion kilometers from Earth. An exceptional NASA mission made in Africa, with the participation of the team members of the African Initiative for Planetary and Space Sciences, to make a success of the meeting with Ultima Thule.

The film shot during the NASA Mission to Senegal in August 2018, with the support of MESRI (Senegal), ASPA, CNES, IRD and Uranoscope de France, is available online at the following link: https://youtu.be/Ow3O4bjxRm8

Director: Yseult Berger
Production: leblob.fr 2019



With “Vigie-Cratère”, become an impact crater hunter

Participate in the search for new impact craters thanks to the Vigie-Cratère participatory science program! This innovative platform, open to all, allows us to explore the relief of our planet to identify discrete or invisible circular structures on satellite imagery. This citizen science program, available in French and English, allows as many people as possible to learn more about impact processes and to help scientists better reconstruct the history of collisions with the Earth.

Continue reading “With “Vigie-Cratère”, become an impact crater hunter”


Henri Poincaré Junior Program of the Côte d’Azur Observatory

The Henri Poincaré Junior Program of Côte d’Azur Observatory is open (deadline, October 31, 2019).  This one proposes internships for international students wishing to perform a scientific training in one of the laboratories of the observatory. The laureates will receive up to 2200 euros for a training period of 2 months or more during the first half of 2020.


Continue reading “Henri Poincaré Junior Program of the Côte d’Azur Observatory”


Join On the Moon again and find sponsors for your event in Africa

You want to join On the Moon Again ? Make sure first that you have registered on www.onthemoongain.org

You need telescopes for your event ? We have prepared for you a sponsorship file to be submitted to potential sponsors – download it and adapt if for your event.

The sponsorship file has been prepared by Meriem El Yajouri in Morocco and is acknowledged here for sharing the file across Africa to increase the number of African explorers of the Moon !

Sponsorship file On the Moon again (English version)

Rejoignez on the Moon again et trouver des sponsors pour votre évènement en Afrique

Vous voulez rejoindre On the Moon Again ? – Assurez-vous d’abord que vous êtes inscrits sur www.onthemoongain.org

Vous avez besoin de télescopes pour votre événement? Nous avons préparé pour vous un dossier de parrainage à soumettre à des sponsors potentiels – téléchargez-le et adaptez-le pour votre événement.

Le dossier de parrainage a été préparé par Meriem El Yajouri pour le Maroc que nous remercions ici pour ce partage à travers l’Afrique afin d’augmenter le nombre d’explorateurs africains de la Lune!

Dossier de parrainage On the Moon again (version française)





NASA mission in Senegal – A source of inspiration for young Senegalese scientists


Introductory words by David Baratoux (translation from French speech)
In presence of Maram KAIRE (ASPA), Heath Bailey (USA Embassy in Dakar), Laurent Perez-Vidal (French Embassy), and the public of the “Théâtre de Verdure” of the French Institute in Dakar

As we will discover tonight, the space exploration of our Solar System, the planetary and space sciences are areas that are not restricted to a few nations around the world.

These sciences are first of all a source of inspiration and motivation for young people who face the learning of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, or engineering sciences. Exploring the solar system leads to combine the learning of these fundamental disciplines, essential for innovation, with a huge part of dream, and also of excitement in front of the first images of new worlds, as we will discover one tonight. Participating in this adventure of space exploration of our solar system can play a role in education from primary school to university. Continue reading “NASA mission in Senegal – A source of inspiration for young Senegalese scientists”


Mission NASA au Sénégal – Evénement exceptionnel le 2 mai de 19h à 21h à l’Institut Français Léopold Sédar Senghor

Nous vous invitons au Théatre de Verdure de l’Institut Français Léopold Sédar Senghor le Jeudi 2 Mai de 19h à 21h pour revivre les moments forts de la mission de la NASA au Sénégal, mission qui a préparé le succès du survol du plus lointain objet jamais exploré dans le système solaire: l’astéroïde Ultima Thulé ou 2014MU69.

Cette soirée sera l’occasion d’un échange avec les participants à cette mission, une intervention en direct des chercheurs de la NASA, et la première projection d’un film tourné au Sénégal en Aout 2018 lors de la mission de la NASA par Universcience (voir un extrait).

Nous vous attendons nombreux pour cette soirée exceptionnelle aux confins de notre système solaire (Entrée gratuite) !




Win your telescope with RFI and participate to “On the Moon again”

In this year anniversary of the first step of Man on the moon, the broadcast  “Autour de la question (in French) (Around the Question) on RFI is associated with the global event “On the moon again” to offer to one of our listeners an astronomical telescope that the laureate will to put in the street and share during the nights 12th and 13th, July 2019 as part of the international event “On the Moon again” which encourages telescope owners all over the world to go out on the night of 12th to 13th July for observing the moon.

The winner of the contest will be released at Caroline Lachowski’s broadcast “Around the Question” on May 22nd, with the participation of Sylvain Bouley, Sébastien Vauclair, Jean-Philippe Uzan, and David Baratoux.


En cette année anniversaire du premier pas de l’Homme sur la lune, l’émission Autour de la Question sur RFI s’associe à l’évènement mondial « On the moon again » pour faire gagner à un de nos auditeurs, une lunette astronomique que le lauréat devra sortir et partager les 12 et 13 juillet 2019 dans le cadre de l’évènement international « On the Moon again » qui encourage les possesseurs de télescope, partout dans le monde, à sortir dans la nuit du 12 au 13 juillet pour observer la lune.

Le lauréat du concours sera dévoilé lors de l’émission “Autour de la question” de Caroline Lachowski, le 22 Mai prochain, avec la participation de Sylvain Bouley, Sébastien Vauclair, Jean-Philippe Uzan, et  David Baratoux.



On the Moon again – July 12-13, 2019

Dear observer of the moon,

Thank to all of those who already registered for the On the Moon Again event. In less than 100 days, we will be numerous around the world to release our telescopes to share the beauty of the Moon with passersby. A map of all observers and educational content will be available by June on the on the Moon again website.

300 participants in 40 different countries have already registered. We hope that Africa will be widely represented !

Take the lead on your local On the Moon again event and communicate as you like about it (social networks, local newspapers, municipality, associations, …).

Feel free to use the flyer below (click to download a pdf version in french or english).


For your information, a photo contest will be organized to reward the most beautiful photos illustrating this event. Among the lots, we can announce that a lunar meteorite and several telescopes will be to win. More information will be sent by July.

Good spring to all!
The team On the Moon Again


Eastern Africa Global Navigation Satellite Systems and Space Weather Capacity Building Workshop 13th – 17th May, 2019 Pwani University

This workshop is the second workshop organized with the framework of the Africa Initiative for Planetary and Space Sciences in 2019 (following the first AFIPS workshop in Ethiopia. 


Presentation of the workshop

Continue reading “Eastern Africa Global Navigation Satellite Systems and Space Weather Capacity Building Workshop 13th – 17th May, 2019 Pwani University”


A message from Prof. Trigo-Rodriguez who leads the Meteorites, Minor Bodies and Planetary Science Group at the Institute of Space Sciences

Prof. Trigo-Rodriguez who leads the Meteorites, Minor Bodies and Planetary
Science Group at the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC/IEEC) encourage applications from African students for master and Ph.D. thesis.

Continue reading “A message from Prof. Trigo-Rodriguez who leads the Meteorites, Minor Bodies and Planetary Science Group at the Institute of Space Sciences”


First AFIPS workshop, February 4th-7th, 2019, Addis Ababa Ethiopia

The Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) and Bahir Dar University are hosting the first “Africa Initiative for Planetary and Space Science” Workshop on the 4th – 7th, February 2019.

The workshop will take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

More information (registration form, abstract submission) can be found at http://etssti.org/invitation-for-workshop/

call for_Abstract_Final


The stellar occultation by the asteroid Ultima Thule in Senegal – An opportunity for the development of Astronomy in Africa

On the night of August 3rd to 4th, American, Senegalese and French scientists will meet in Senegal to observe a new stellar occultation by MU69, before the flyby of this object by the New Horizons spacecraft (NASA) on January 1st 2019. This Observation campaign is an opportunity to promote scientific culture, and bring science and researchers from the general public around a global astronomical event.

Consult here the list of public activities in relation with the stellar occultation.

Read the CNES-IRD-CNES press release

Consult press review

Continue reading “The stellar occultation by the asteroid Ultima Thule in Senegal – An opportunity for the development of Astronomy in Africa”


Development in astronomy and space science in Africa

The development of astronomy and space science in Africa has grown significantly over the past few years. These advancements make the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals more achievable, and open up the possibility of new beneficial collaborations.

This month, a team of astronomers, led by Mirjana Pović, from the Entoto Observatory in Ethiopia summarizes the last institutional developments in Africa to develop astronomy and space science and how these efforts contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals in Africa. The article is published as a comment in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The article may be read online here:

Pović, M. et al. (2018) Development in astronomy and space science in Africa. Nature Astronomy.


Call for AFIPS workshops proposals

Evaluation in progress – Decision will be posted on August 15th, 2018

Lire la version française.

The objective of this call for proposals is to strengthen the African vision for developing Planetary and Space Sciences at the local, national, or regional scale. Proposals are invited for the organization of two 4-day workshops in 2018, to involve African researchers and international participants. The two workshops will be financially supported by the European Association of Geochemistry and Geochemical Society.

The deadline for submission of proposals is extended to June, 10th, 2018.

Download the text of the call for proposal.


Appel à propositions pour des ateliers AFIPS

Evaluation en cours – la décision sera diffusée le 15 Aout 2018

Read the english version

L’objectif de cet appel à propositions est de renforcer la vision africaine pour le développement des sciences planétaires et spatiales à l’échelle locale, nationale ou régionale. Nous invitons à soumettre des propositions pour l’organisation de deux ateliers de 4 jours en 2018, impliquant des chercheurs africains et des participants internationaux. Les deux ateliers seront soutenus financièrement par l’Association Européenne de Géochimie et la Geochemical Society.

La date limite pour la soumission des propositions est étendu au 10 Juin 2018.

Télécharger l’appel à propositions.


The Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakech) officially endorses the AFIPS

Lire la version française

The Cadi Ayyad University (UCA) has officially announced its support for the AFIPS Initiative through a letter of endorsement from its president Prof. Abdellatif Miraoui.

The UCA is very active at the African scale in the sciences of the Universe. It hosts in particular a very dynamic astronomical observatory (Observatory of Oukaimeden, in the Altas Mountains) led by our colleague Prof. Zouhair BENKHALDOUN, who is also a membe of the AFIPS.

Oukaimeden Observatory (Cadi Ayyad University)

Continue reading “The Cadi Ayyad University (Marrakech) officially endorses the AFIPS”


Call for participation to the Pan African STEM Video Game Challenge 2018

The Africa Initiative for Planetary and Spaces Sciences (AFIPS) and the Pan African STEM Video Game challenge 2018 have decided to join forces to engage African students with STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Planetary and space scientists across the world are invited to contribute to this event that will take place in Africa.
Continue reading “Call for participation to the Pan African STEM Video Game Challenge 2018”

Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society – Online workshop

3rd Circular – 16 Sept 2020

We invite you to participate in the online Workshop on “Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society”, organised by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) with support from NSF’s NOIRLab, between 15:00 to 17:00 UTC on October 5-9, 2020. Most of the Workshop will also be recorded for later viewing and commenting by people outside the time zones. The online workshop will present initial findings from 5 working groups of the Scientific Organising Committee (SOC), for discussion. Within the two hour period on each workshop day, presentations will first be made by one of the Working Groups and open discussion will follow.

The Workshop, organised at the request of COPUOS, will be held online, while an in-person conference will follow in April 2021, after the report has been presented at the COPUOS Scientific and Technical Sub-Committee (COPUOS STSC) meeting in February 2021. Based on feedback received, the report will be reviewed and finalised after the April Conference, then presented to the June 2021 COPUOS Meeting.

The purpose and scope of the Workshop are to propose to COPUOS STSC a set of recommendations to protect the science of astronomy. If adopted by the UN, these recommendations will be acted upon either by local governments or agreed to at the international level. In preparing the online workshop “Dark and Quiet Skies for Science and Society”, the SOC and Working Groups considered sources of interference that can affect or endanger the visibility of the pristine night sky in all wavelength regimes, and the report identifies measures that will avoid or mitigate negative impacts. Care is being taken to propose recommendations that are both technically and economically feasible and do not affect the main purpose of the potential source of interference, e.g., safety-driven urban illumination, space-based network connectivity, and the like.