Conferences and Seminars

CDS Postgraduate Student Workshop: Accessing and Analyzing Multiwavelength Astronomical Data

South African Astroinformatics Alliance (SA3) is organising a workshop on May 6, 2016 for post Postgraduate students in collaborations with the Strasbourg Astronomical Data Centre (CDS), a leading international provider of astronomical data and of tools for their analysis. Dr Mark Allen (CDS Director), together with his staff, will run this workshop at which they will introduce research students to the services provided by CDS ( as well as providing hands-on opportunities to try these out on the student’s data.

This is primarily aimed at MSc and PhD students, registered at South African Universities, who have limited experience of astronomical data analysis. It is particularly appropriate for those who have their own data (e.g. images, simulations or data catalogues) and want to match or compare them to other material. There are places for up to 30 people; postdocs will also be accepted if there are places available. Students should bring their own laptops (if at all possible) with their own data if they wish.

For more information please check –

IVOA Northern Spring “Interop” Meeting 2016

The Virtual Observatory (VO) is an international astronomical community-based initiative which aims to allow global electronic access to astronomical data archives from space and ground-based observatories. It is a collection of tools for accessing and visualizing multi-wavelength data that collectively provide a scientific environment, rather than a physical observatory. The VO enables astronomers to work just as well in a small rural university, or even at home, as in an international observatory or large research university – provided they have access to the Internet and a very good scientific education. It also adds value to expensive infrastructure by allowing data to be used and reused many times.

The International Virtual Observatory Alliance (IVOA is an organisation that debates and agrees the technical standards that are needed to make the VO possible. It also acts as a focus for VO aspirations, a framework for discussing and sharing VO ideas and technology, and as a body for promoting and publicising the VO. The semi-annual IVOA “Interop” Meetings provide a  venue for discussion and development of virtual observatory standards and VO-based applications. These meetings are open to those with an interest in utilizing the VO infrastructure and tools in support of observatory operations and/or astronomical research.

The IVOA Northern Spring 2016 Interoperability Meeting will be held at the Stellenbosch Institute of Advanced Study (STIAS), near Cape Town from 8-13 May 2016. The meeting is being organised by the South African Astroinformatics Alliance (SA3). For more details please check –

InfraRed Survey Facility: Past and Future

This meeting took place in the Auditorium at the South African Astronomical Observatory from 2 to 4 March 2016. It was attended by 18 astronomers from Japan and 17 from South Africa. The presentations were also video-streamed live via the internet and viewed by a few people from remote locations.

The meeting was opened by Prof Nithaya Chetty (NRF) who emphasized the excellent productivity of the IRSF. During the first two days formal presentations on research covered the following areas: extra-solar planets, high energy binaries, transients, supernova remnants, star forming regions, Galactic structure, Local Group Galaxies and galaxies in the Zone of Avoidance.   There was extensive discussion on IRSF instrumentation and synergies with other telescopes and space experiments. The possibility of siting another, somewhat larger, telescope at Sutherland was also broached and greeted with great interest. For more details please check –

Science with SALT Conference 2015

The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) has seen great changes in the last years following the beginning of full time sciece operations in 2011. We have commissioned the three first generation instruments, namely the SALTICAM imager, the Robert Stobie Spectrograph (RSS) and its multiple modes and finally in 2014, the new High Resolution Spectrograph (HRS). We now eagerly anticipate the installation and commissioning of the near-infrared arm of RSS, likely to commence in 2016.

It is thus a good time for the SALT collaboration to convene, reflect on the successes and discuss the future developments.

We are thus pleased to invite you to the Third Science with SALT workshop, which will be held in Stellenbosch from 1 to 5 June 2015.

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Oxford X: Astronomy, Indigenous Knowledge and Interpretation

The Oxford X conference brings together leading experts in the field of cultural astronomy at the South African Astronomical Observatory, which is hosting the conference from 14 to 18 July 2014. A complement of Oxford X were workshops for teachers and students that took place on 12 and 13 July 2014.

What Are the “Oxford” International Symposia on Archaeoastronomy?

The “Oxford” conferences bring together researchers from around the world and from a variety of academic disciplines, working in all areas of archaeoastronomy and cultural astronomy. The original Oxford conference (“Oxford I”) took place in 1981 and they have been held at roughly three-to-four-year intervals ever since, with ISAAC (the International Society for Archaeoastronomy and Astronomy in Culture) taking over responsibility for the conferences following Oxford VII. Oxford VIII was held in Klaipėda, Lithuania, in 2007, and Oxford IX took place in Lima, Peru, in January 2011.

Astronomy, Indigenous Knowledge, and Interpretation

The Oxford X theme is “Astronomy, Indigenous Knowledge, and Interpretation.”  There has been an ongoing tension in archaeoastronomy over interpretations of alignments and sky knowledge that are consistent with existing knowledge of the culture under examination. Added to this is the possibility that when working with living cultures more than one interpretation may exist. Indigenous Knowledge Studies (IKS) which works from within cultures is working to incorporate sky knowledge.  The conference brings together these communities and others to examine the linkages, theories, and interpretations of the human relationship to the sky.

Full programme