• IAU386 Symposium Participants Survey Dear IAU386 Participants, to ensure a seamless and well-prepared symposium, we kindly request you to take a few minutes to fill out the following survey. Your responses will greatly assist us in making the necessary arrangements. Your participation and input are crucial for the success of the symposium, and we appreciate your cooperation. https://forms.gle/9Exgz3tNYiopSr4h6
  • Information for E-visa Application SSGI Company Reference Code: SP7627186291011
  • The regular registration deadline has been extended to October 27, 2023

* IAU386 Program

* APA Program

Important dates
  • Registration & Abstract Submission Opens: 15 Sept 2022
  • Early Bird registration deadline: 31 Dec 2022
  • Regular Registration deadline: 31 August 2023
  • Late/onsite Registration starts: 01 Sept 2023
  • Abstract Submission deadline: 30 June 2023
  • Abstract Acceptance notification: 15 August 2023
  • Grant Application deadline: 30 June 2023
  • Grant Notification: 15 August 2023

Keynote Speakers

Prof. John Hearnshaw, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Prof. John Hearnshaw, promotes dark skies for over 40 years and established the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve in 2012, which has become a strong center for Astro-tourism, in New Zealand. He awarded the Crawford-Hunter Lifetime Achievement award from the International Dark-Sky Association, IDA in 2020. He published the New Zealand Dark Sky Handbook and launched the Aotearoa Astro-tourism Academy in 2021. He served as IAU Division C president 2015-18 and IAU Vice-President 2018-21.
Dr. Connie Walker, NSF’s NOIRLab, co-director of IAU CPS, USA

Dr. Connie Walker is a scientist at the US National Center for Optical-Infrared Astronomy (NSF’s NOIRLab ). She is involved with light pollution issues on the ground and in space, and coordinates NOIRLab’s Office of Observatory Site Protection. She directs Globe at Night, an international citizen-science program that rates night sky brightness. She holds leadership roles in dark skies protection within the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, and the International Dark-Sky Association. In 2020 and 2021, she co-chaired four conferences focusing on the impacts of satellite constellations and artificial light at night.

Recently, Dr. Connie was appointed co-director of the new IAU Center on the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (IAU CPS, USA). Dr. Connie has wide experience and expertise in dark and quiet sky preservation. She has received the honors of the IDA’s Hoag-Robinson Award, and an asteroid was named after her (Asteroid 29292 Connie Walker).

Kevin Govender, Director, IAU-OAD, South Africa

Kevin Govender is the founder and director of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) since 2011. Under his leadership, the OAD has established 11 regional offices and language centers globally and has made significant strides in advancing the use of astronomy as a tool for sustainable development.

Kevin has extensive experience in using astronomy for development during his previous position as the Manager of the SALT Collateral Benefits Programme at the South African Astronomical Observatory(SAAO). He also chaired the Developing Astronomy Globally Cornerstone Project of the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009) and was involved in the development of the IAU Strategic Plan.

Kevin Govender is a renowned figure in the field of astronomy, particularly in the application of astronomy for societal development. He possesses vast experience and knowledge of how Astro-tourism benefits and transforms the livelihoods of grassroots societies. Kevin is the first South African to be awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Medal for Science, jointly with the International Astronomical Union.

Dr. Antonia Varela, Director, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias & Starlight Foundation, Spain

Dr. Antonia Varela is the Managing Director of the Starlight Foundation and an Astrophysicist and Researcher at the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC). She is also a member of the Sky Quality Group of the IAC, which focuses on characterizing the observatories in the Canary Islands. With a hundred publications in scientific journals and numerous contributions to national and international congresses, Dr. Varela has established herself as a prolific researcher. Additionally, she has made over 500 outreach contributions to promote astronomy to the wider public.

Dr. Varela has been involved in 22 national and international R&D projects, serving as a referee for articles in scientific journals and as a project adviser for the State Research Agency of Spain. Her notable achievements include contributing to the site selection process for the Gran Telescopio de Canarias (GTC, 10.4m) and participating in the site selection committees of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Recently, she has collaborated on projects such as the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), the European Solar Telescope (EST), and the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).

Sonal Asgotraa, Founder of Astrostays, India

Sonal Asgotraa is the Founder of Astrostays. An electrical engineer by profession, Sonal merges Astronomy and community development interventions to create a community-led astro-tourism initiative that transforms village homestays into Cultural and Astronomy Hubs and brings economic benefits of tourism directly to lesser-known, remote areas.

Ruskin Hartley, CEO, Dark Sky International,USA

Ruskin Hartley is the Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director at DarkSky International (formerly the International Dark-Sky Association). In this role, he champions equitable access to dark skies and quality lighting for all through DarkSky’s award-winning programs. Ruskin works closely with volunteer leaders and donors to secure increased support for our priorities worldwide. Ruskin believes restoring the natural nighttime environment is an urgent environmental issue that will benefit all living things.

Before this position, Ruskin directed and managed conservation programs that protect land, water, and ocean resources. He served as executive director of Save the Redwoods League, a non-profit dedicated to protecting and restoring the redwood forest. He also served as the president and CEO of Heal the Bay in Los Angeles and vice president of resource development at Fair Trade USA, an award-winning social enterprise seeking to alleviate poverty worldwide.

Dr.Mirjana Pović, SSGI, Ethiopia

Dr.Mirjana Pović is a Serbian-Spanish astrophysicist, working as an assistant professor at the Space Science and Geospatial Institute (SSGI), an associate researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía in Spain, and as an honorary lecturer at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda. Over more than 10 years, she worked on development in astronomy, science, and education in different parts of Africa, through different projects and initiatives related to research collaborations, education, institutional development, human capacity building, policy development, and women in science.

She is a current secretary of the IAU Division C on Education, Outreach and Heritage, African Astronomical Society Science Committee member, co-convener of the Astrophysics and Cosmology Working Group under the African Strategy for Fundamental and Applied Physics, and founder of the African Network of Women in Astronomy. She received several awards and recognitions for her scientific achievements and contribution to society, in particular for her work in Africa, including the 2018 inaugural Nature Research Award for Inspiring Science, and the 2021 inaugural European Astronomical Society Jocelyn Bell Burnell Inspiration Medal.

Audrey Dikgale-Mahlakoana, DSI, South Africa

Audrey Dikgale-Mahlakoana is a Deputy Director in Multiwavelength Astronomy at the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI). Her role involves supporting astronomy initiatives such as the African Astronomical Society, SAAO, OAD, IAU-GA-2024, and Astrolab workshops in terms of governance oversight and budgetary requirements. She was part of a team that worked on the Astro-tourism strategy and its implementation plan in collaboration with the Department of Tourism.

Audrey was one of the first radio telescope operators in South Africa at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory. She operated KAT-7 antennas and eventually led the Operations Team as a Telescope Operators Team Lead during the commissioning of the Meerkat Telescope.

Dr. Solomon Belay, IAU-Vice president, Ethiopia

Dr. Solomon Belay is an Associate Professor of Astrophysics and the IAU Vice President, as well as the President of the National Committee for Astronomy in Ethiopia. He currently serves as a Science Advisor at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MINT) of Ethiopia and previously held the position of General Director at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI).

Dr. Belay is one of the founders of the Space Science Society (ESSS) and has been instrumental in advancing astronomy in Ethiopia. He played a crucial role in establishing the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) and the Entoto Observatory Research Center (EORC) in Ethiopia.

Dorje Angchuk, Engineer-in-Charge and Indian Astronomical Observatory , India

Angchuk serves as the Engineer in charge of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics’ (IIA) Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle. In this role, he leads the initiatives aimed at developing and implementing the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve, a project focused on preserving and protecting the pristine night skies in the region.

Furthermore, Angchuk holds the distinction of being an Indian Honorary Member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). This recognition highlights his contributions and standing within the global astronomical community.

Apart from his responsibilities at the IIA and the Hanle project, it is fascinating to learn that Angchuk has also pursued a career as a professional astro-photographer. This demonstrates his passion for capturing awe-inspiring images of celestial objects, combining technical expertise with artistic vision.

Overall, Angchuk’s role as an engineer, his involvement in creating the Hanle Dark Sky Reserve, and his status as an Indian Honorary Member of the IAU, along with his career as a professional astro-photographer, showcases his diverse and remarkable contributions to the field of astronomy.

About the Symposium

Astronomy is an effective tool for sustainable development socially, culturally, economically, and environmentally and can benefit both our society and the planet. Astronomy is also used to preserve dark skies, indigenous groups, their culture and traditions, and our historical, anthropological, and ethnoarchaeological heritage. Besides its fundamental importance for observational astronomy and science development, dark sky and astronomical heritage play a key role in boosting Astro-tourism and contributing to social and sustainable economic development.

Dark sky and astronomical history are regarded as engines for long-term economic development, contributing to the tourism industry’s GDP as well as social and economic development. Popularization, education, investment, and protection of dark sky areas are thus essential for advancing socioeconomic progress. Despite the fact that dark skies are inspiring and valuable for astronomical observations and research, educational purposes, and astro-tourism, they are a resource that is underutilized and threatened by light pollution. A holistic approach is essential to overcome the constraints and have a positive impact on socioeconomic growth.

The IAU386 symposium is thus focus on presenting research findings and sharing experiences to enhance preservation and utilization of dark sky, to discuss mechanisms how to boost astro-tourism around the world and discussing strategies for utilizing and investing in untapped dark sky around the world. The symposium also consists of different side event activities beyond the scientific deliberations such as public lectures, capacity building and awareness creation training on ‘Dark sky and Astro-tourism’ for stakeholders in the industry, as well as for decision and policy makers. Astro-tourism attraction places such as astronomical observatory and nearby cultural heritage places around Addis are also included as visitations in the symposium program. Special arrangements will also be made for those interested participants of the symposium to visit Ethiopia’s tourist attractions places.

Objectives of the Symposium

The aim of organizing this symposium is

  • To enhance preservation and utilization of dark sky, cultural astronomy, and astronomical heritages to boost Astro-tourism across Africa and the globe;
  • To create scientific avenue so as to present scientific research outputs and ideas in mitigating the impact of Artificial Light At Night (ALAN) and discuss scientific ideas that pave ways for transdisciplinary innovations related to Dark Sky;
  • To drive international, continental and regional collaborations to preserve dark sky and capitalize the economical and developmental contribution to Astro-tourism;
  • To promote and create awareness of dark sky protection and Astro-tourism; and to propose a set of recommendations to be acted at local and international level that aims in protecting the dark sky and astronomical heritages.

   The symposium is expected to address the following points:

  • The scientific contribution and role of dark skies for the development of science and technology
  • The impact of Astro-tourism and its role for social and sustainable economic development and case studies discussion around the world.
  • The identification of potential Astro-tourism sites, dark sky reserves, and astronomical heritage and proposing potential dark sky sites to register in International Dark-Sky Place (IDSP).
  • The role of education and outreach in enhancing dark sky and Astro-tourism heritage for developing countries.
  • The utilization of dark sky, cultural astronomy, and astronomical heritages to boost Astro-tourism.
  • Awareness creation, popularization, and promotion of dark and quiet sky protection and Astro-tourism, the fascinating nature of astronomy, in delivering quality education.

Key topics

  • Dark Sky and its conversation,
  • Astro-tourism,
  • Dark skies, cultural astronomy, and astronomical heritage,
  • Dark skies for science and technological developments.
  • Policy and implementation framework of dark and quiet sky,
  • Education, outreach and development activities of dark skies and Astro-tourism


Logo IAU