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.


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”