People 'n' Issues

Astronomy to aid development

August 17th, 2015
The International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development has recently opened five offices in various regions to use astronomy as a tool to boost social development in specific regions and languages.

The International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) has established new coordinating offices in Armenia, Colombia, Jordan, Nigeria and Portugal. Supporting the use of astronomy as a tool for development in specific regions and languages, the new partnerships form part of the IAU’s decadal strategic plan — which aims to realise the social benefits of astronomy.

The agreements were signed at the Hawai’i Convention Centre in Honolulu, Hawai’i, during the IAU’s triennial General Assembly. The final signatures were received during a media event on Thursday 13 August 2015.

The five new offices will perform two important functions. Regional offices will coordinate astronomy for development activities in nearby countries, whilst language expertise centres will deal with language and/or cultural aspects. Each of the offices will be hosted by a local institution or consortium of institutes and supported in their efforts by regional partners.

The new coordinating offices of astronomy for development are as follows:

The South West Asian Regional Office, hosted at the Byurakan Astrophysical Observatory (BAO) in Armenia.

The Andean Regional Office, hosted at three collaborating institutions: Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia), Parque Explora-Planetario de Medellín (Colombia), and Sociedad Chilena de Astronomía (Chile).

The Arab Regional Office and Arabic Language Expertise Centre, hosted by the Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences and located at the United Nations Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Jordan.

The West African Regional Office, hosted at the Centre for Basic Space Science (CBSS), National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in Nigeria.

The Portuguese Language Expertise Centre, hosted at Núcleo Interactivo de Astronomia (NUCLIO), in collaboration with the Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Portugal.

Together with existing offices around the world — the East Asian Regional Office and Chinese Language Expertise Centre in China; the East African Regional Office in Ethiopia; the South East Asian Regional Office in Thailand; and the Southern African Regional Office in Zambia — the OAD now comprises a network of eight regional offices and three language expertise centres.

The newly signed agreements follow the IAU’s Announcement of Opportunity, which remains open to proposals for new regional offices and language expertise centres. For more information on OAD offices and activities, including the Call for Proposals for projects relating to the OAD’s three main focus areas (universities & research, children & schools, and the public), please visit

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