Special Session SS38  27 June 2019

European Forum of Astronomical Communities

Aims and scope

Summary of Goals:

  • Maintain an EWASS forum for discussing ways to support underrepresented astronomical communities in Europe, especially concerning their potential to participate in major infrastructure, and to increase internationalization.
  • Support the professionalisation of astronomy communities in Europe by identifying ways to increase opportunities and access to training, mentoring, exchange schemes, secondments and fellowships, travel and research grants, and to increase diversity in the field.
  • Develop and maintain a pragmatic plan for effective mid-term measures to promote progress.


European astronomy still often relies on optical night-time telescopes of modest size in mediocre sites, although observational opportunities also exist at the ESO observatories and elsewhere, in space through the European Space Agency (ESA), in radio astronomy and in European-scale facilities at other wavelengths. Cooperation agreements have been signed with some of these projects and countries, but not all such arrangements are effectively used for astronomical science, and bureaucratic obstacles may impede the progress of some national communities. Despite good intentions and some notable exceptions, overall progress has been disappointingly slow.

The European Astronomical Society (EAS) and the ASTRONET consortium of funding agencies for European astronomy have joined forces in establishing the European Forum of Astronomical Communities (FORUM), combining the grassroots contacts of the EAS with the financial resources of the agencies. Their common long-term goal is the successful use of the next generation of large research infrastructures by the entire European scientific community, and the gradual elimination of the imbalance between more and less developed regions in European astronomy. The goal of the FORUM is to discuss and initiate a set of pragmatic bottom-up actions to make visible progress wherever possible.


Session I: Setting the scene

  • ESO: Access to astronomical research infrastructure - status and challenges
  • ESA: Building industrial capacity in the space sector: the role of Business Incubation Centres.
  • Need for talent: gender diversity in astronomy
  • Action plan to be undertaken within EAS

Session II (Lunch Session): Opportunities and examples
  • The Europlanet Society - supporting European Planetary Science
  • Opportunities within OPTICON
  • RadioNet impact on radio astronomy in Europe
  • Hungary: collaboration within the space sector
  • Poland: small telescopes for large research projects
  • Bulgaria: promoting student and staff exchanges

Invited speakers

  • Andrew Williams ESO
  • Lluc Diaz ESA
  • Heidi Korhonen OPTICON
  • Anton Zensus and Izabela Rottmann RadioNET
  • Laszlo Kiss Konkoly
  • Erika Pakstiene Vilnius University
  • Lukasz Wyrzykowski Warsaw University
  • Mariya Lyubenova ESO
  • Nigel Mason University of Kent

Scientific organisers

Lex Kaper - EAS (The Netherlands) Agata Karska - Nicolaus Copernicus University (PL) Laszlo Kiss - Konkoly Observatory (HU) Nigel Mason - University of Kent (UK) Andrew Williams - ESO (DE) Lukasz Wyrzykowski - University of Warsaw (PL)


Lukasz Wyrzykowski lw @ astrouw.edu.pl, Agata Karska agata.karska @ umk.pl

Updated on Tue Apr 09 12:13:40 CEST 2019