Scientific Rationale

The last decade has seen revolutionary advances in astronomical capabilities within the Middle-East and Africa. In particular, the completion of the High Energy Stereoscopic System (HESS) in Namibia and the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) in South Africa, together with the construction of the Karoo Array Telescope (KAT), also in South Africa and the bid by South Africa to host the SKA, has transformed African astronomy. The Southern African region will soon be able to offer world-class observational capability from ultra-high energy gamma-rays, through optical/near-IR to radio wavelengths.

 

This was recognised in 2008, when the region came together in Cairo for MEARIM I, which attracted attendees from a wide cross-section of the MEA countries. At the conclusion of that meeting, it was agreed that the second meeting in this series should be based in Africa, and South Africa offered to host it in Cape Town. With HESS producing outstanding results, CTA discussions gathering pace, SALT about to begin normal operations and MeerKAT under construction, the timing is thus ideal for MEARIM II. The region needs to build on these developments and to exploit them for the benefit of their wider communities. This is particularly timely given the recently announced IAU plan "Astronomy for the Developing World", which aims to bring astronomy to the entire continent. This will require a huge effort on the education and outreach front, and it is intended that this will be a significant topic at the meeting.