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Astronomy boost in developing world

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While the Square Kilometer Array occupies the minds of the astronomy world, a new initiative will boost the role of astronomy in the developing world.

Today the International Astronomical Union’s Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) signed an agreement with The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Board of Physical Sciences (NWO) to facilitate the travel of Dutch experts to developing countries in order to stimulate “astronomy-for-development”” activities. In a time when the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) is the hot topic in the astronomy community, this agreement recognises the importance that astronomy plays in global development.Kevin Govender, Director of the OAD: “”Regardless of where the SKA is built we must keep the bigger picture in mind – that such an amazing facility will be for all of humankind – and agreements such as this between the NWO and the OAD seeks to address this bigger picture”” The OAD-NWO agreement will allow skilled people from the Netherlands, including scientists, engineers and educators to travel to developing countries for a period of a few days to a few weeks to give talks, run short courses in astronomy, inspire university students and schools, help with major telescope construction projects – anything to stimulate the field of astronomy such that it may spin off to fulfil the science and technology development goals of that country. This agreement came about through meetings at the South African Astronomical Observatory that were facilitated by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) More information on the OAD: www.astro4dev.org More information on the NWO: www.nwo.nl More information on the SAAO: www.saao.ac.za More information on the NRF: www.nrf.ac.za More information on the DST: www.dst.gov.za

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