The International Astronomical Union (IAU; French: Union astronomique internationale, UAI) is an international association of professional astronomers, at the PhD level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy. Among other activities, it acts as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations and names to celestial bodies (stars, planets, asteroids, etc.) and any surface features on them.
The IAU is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). Its main objective is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU maintains friendly relations with organizations that include amateur astronomers in their membership. The IAU has its head office on the second floor of the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. Working groups include the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), which maintains the astronomical naming conventions and planetary nomenclature for planetary bodies, and the Working Group on Star Names (WGSN), which catalogs and standardizes proper names for stars. The IAU is also responsible for the system of astronomical telegrams which are produced and distributed on its behalf by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. The Minor Planet Center also operates under the IAU, and is a "clearinghouse" for all non-planetary or non-moon bodies in the Solar System. The Working Group for Meteor Shower Nomenclature and the Meteor Data Center coordinate the nomenclature of meteor showers.
|International Astronomical Union (IAU)|
Union astronomique internationale (UAI)
National members from 79 countries
|Formation||28 July 1919|
|79 national members |
12,664 individual members
|Ewine van Dishoeck|
|Maria Teresa Lago|
The IAU was founded on 28 July 1919, at the Constitutive Assembly of the International Research Council (now International Council for Science) held in Brussels, Belgium. Two subsidiaries of the IAU were also created at this assembly: the International Time Commission seated at the International Time Bureau in Paris, France, and the International Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams initially seated in Copenhagen, Denmark. The 7 initial member states were Belgium, Canada, France, Great Britain, Greece, Japan, and the United States, soon to be followed by Italy and Mexico. The first executive committee consisted of Benjamin Baillaud (President, France), Alfred Fowler (General Secretary, UK), and four vice presidents: William Campbell (USA), Frank Dyson (UK), Georges Lecointe (Belgium), and Annibale Riccò (Italy). Thirty-two Commissions (referred to initially as Standing Committees) were appointed at the Brussels meeting and focused on topics ranging from relativity to minor planets. The reports of these 32 Commissions formed the main substance of the first General Assembly, which took place in Rome, Italy, 2–10 May 1922. By the end of the first General Assembly, ten additional nations (Australia, Brazil, Czecho-Slovakia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, South Africa, and Spain) had joined the Union, bringing the total membership to 19 countries. Although the Union was officially formed eight months after the end of World War I, international collaboration in astronomy had been strong in the pre-war era (e.g., the Astronomische Gesellschaft Katalog projects since 1868, the Astrographic Catalogue since 1887, and the International Union for Solar research since 1904).
The first 50 years of the Union's history are well documented. Subsequent history is recorded in the form of reminiscences of past IAU Presidents and General Secretaries. Twelve of the fourteen past General Secretaries in the period 1964-2006 contributed their recollections of the Union's history in IAU Information Bulletin No. 100. Six past IAU Presidents in the period 1976–2003 also contributed their recollections in IAU Information Bulletin No. 104.
The IAU includes a total of 12,664 individual members who are professional astronomers from 96 countries worldwide. 83% of all individual members are male, while 17% are female, among them the union's former president, Mexican astronomer Silvia Torres-Peimbert.
Membership also includes 79 national members, professional astronomical communities representing their country's affiliation with the IAU. National members include the Australian Academy of Science, the Chinese Astronomical Society, the French Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Science Academy, the National Academies (United States), the National Research Foundation of South Africa, the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Argentina), KACST (Saudi Arabia), the Council of German Observatories, the Royal Astronomical Society (United Kingdom), the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Science Council of Japan, among many others.
The sovereign body of the IAU is its General Assembly, which comprises all members. The Assembly determines IAU policy, approves the Statutes and By-Laws of the Union (and amendments proposed thereto) and elects various committees.
The right to vote on matters brought before the Assembly varies according to the type of business under discussion. The Statutes consider such business to be divided into two categories:
On budget matters (which fall into the second category), votes are weighted according to the relative subscription levels of the national members. A second category vote requires a turnout of at least two-thirds of national members in order to be valid. An absolute majority is sufficient for approval in any vote, except for Statute revision which requires a two-thirds majority. An equality of votes is resolved by the vote of the President of the Union.
Since 1922, the IAU General Assembly meets every three years, with the exception of the period between 1938 and 1948, due to World War II. After a Polish request in 1967, and by a controversial decision of the then President of the IAU, an Extraordinary IAU General Assembly was held in September 1973 in Warsaw, Poland, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus, soon after the regular 1973 GA had been held in Sydney, Australia.
|Ist IAU General Assembly (1st)||1922||Rome, Italy|
|IInd IAU General Assembly (2nd)||1925||Cambridge, England, United Kingdom|
|IIIrd IAU General Assembly (3rd)||1928||Leiden, Netherlands|
|IVth IAU General Assembly (4th)||1932||Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States|
|Vth IAU General Assembly (5th)||1935||Paris, France|
|VIth IAU General Assembly (6th)||1938||Stockholm, Sweden|
|VIIth IAU General Assembly (7th)||1948||Zürich, Switzerland|
|VIIIth IAU General Assembly (8th)||1952||Rome, Italy|
|IXth IAU General Assembly (9th)||1955||Dublin, Ireland|
|Xth IAU General Assembly (10th)||1958||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|XIth IAU General Assembly (11th)||1961||Berkeley, California, United States|
|XIIth IAU General Assembly (12th)||1964||Hamburg, West Germany|
|XIIIth IAU General Assembly (13th)||1967||Prague, Czechoslovakia|
|XIVth IAU General Assembly (14th)||1970||Brighton, England, United Kingdom|
|XVth IAU General Assembly (15th)||1973||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|XVIth IAU General Assembly (16th)||1976||Grenoble, France|
|XVIIth IAU General Assembly (17th)||1979||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|XVIIIth IAU General Assembly (18th)||1982||Patras, Greece|
|XIXth IAU General Assembly (19th)||1985||New Delhi, India|
|XXth IAU General Assembly (20th)||1988||Baltimore, Maryland, United States|
|XXIst IAU General Assembly (21st)||1991||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|XXIInd IAU General Assembly (22nd)||1994||The Hague, Netherlands|
|XXIIIrd IAU General Assembly (23rd)||1997||Kyoto, Kansai, Japan|
|XXIVth IAU General Assembly (24th)||2000||Manchester, England, United Kingdom|
|XXVth IAU General Assembly (25th)||2003||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|XXVIth IAU General Assembly (26th)||2006||Prague, Czech Republic|
|XXVIIth IAU General Assembly (27th)||2009||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|XXVIIIth IAU General Assembly (28th)||2012||Beijing, China|
|XXIXth IAU General Assembly (29th)||2015||Honolulu, Hawaii, United States|
|XXXth IAU General Assembly (30th)||2018||Vienna, Austria|
|XXXIst IAU General Assembly (31st)||2021||Busan, South Korea|
Commission 46 is a Committee of the Executive Committee of the IAU, playing a special role in the discussion of astronomy development with governments and scientific academies. The IAU is affiliated with the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), a non-governmental organization representing a global membership that includes both national scientific bodies and international scientific unions. They often encourage countries to become members of the IAU. The Commission further seeks to development, information or improvement of astronomical education. Part of Commission 46, is Teaching Astronomy for Development (TAD) program in countries where there is currently very little astronomical education. Another program is named the Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), being a project of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, among which Hands-On Universe that will concentrate more resources on education activities for children and schools designed to advance sustainable global development. GTTP is also concerned with the effective use and transfer of astronomy education tools and resources into classroom science curricula. A strategic plan for the period 2010-2020 has been published.
In 2007, the Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal Working Group prepared a study assessing the feasibility of the Communicating Astronomy with the Public Journal (CAP Journal).
Adams Crater is an impact crater in the Cebrenia quadrangle of Mars, located at 31.1°N latitude and 163.0°E longitude. It is 94.9 km in diameter. It was named after Walter Sydney Adams, and the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Bianchini (Martian crater)
Bianchini Crater is a crater in the Thaumasia quadrangle of Mars, located at 64.2°S latitude and 95.4°W longitude. It is 71 km in diameter and was named after Italian astronomer Francesco Bianchini; the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Da Vinci (Martian crater)
Da Vinci is an impact crater in the Oxia Palus quadrangle of Mars, located at 1.5°N latitude and 39.3°W longitude. It measures 96 kilometers in diameter and was named after Leonardo da Vinci. The naming was approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1973.Fournier (crater)
Fournier is an impact crater in the Iapygia quadrangle of Mars, located at 4.4°S latitude and 287.4°W longitude. It is 118.0 km in diameter and was named after Georges Fournier, and the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Gill (Martian crater)
Gill Crater is an impact crater in the Arabia quadrangle of Mars, located at 15.9°N latitude and 354.6°W longitude. It is 83.0 km in diameter and was named after David Gill (astronomer), and the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Haldane (Martian crater)
Haldane is an impact crater in the Eridania quadrangle of Mars, located at 52.8°S and 230.7°W. It is 77 km in diameter. It was named after British physiologist and geneticist J. B. S. Haldane; the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Huxley (Martian crater)
Huxley is a crater in the Hellas quadrangle of Mars, located at 63.0°S latitude and 259.2°W longitude. It is 107.0 km in diameter. It was named after British biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, and the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).IAU designated constellations
In contemporary astronomy, 88 constellations are recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Each constellation is a region of the sky, bordered by arcs of right ascension and declination. Together they cover the entire celestial sphere and were adopted officially by the International Astronomical Union in 1922.The ancient Sumerians, and later the Greeks (as recorded by Ptolemy), established most of the northern constellations in international use today. The constellations along the ecliptic are called the zodiac. When explorers mapped the stars of the southern skies, European astronomers proposed new constellations for that region, as well as ones to fill gaps between the traditional constellations. Not all of these proposals caught on, but in 1922, the International Astronomical Union adopted the modern list of 88 constellations. After this, Eugène Joseph Delporte drew up boundaries for each constellation so that every point in the sky belonged to one constellation.Jones (Martian crater)
Jones is an impact crater on Mars, located at 19.1°S 19.9°W / -19.1; -19.9 in the Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle. It measures 94.0 kilometer in diameter and was named after English astronomer Harold Spencer Jones (1890–1960). The name was approved in 1973, by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Knobel (crater)
Knobel is an impact crater in the Mare Tyrrhenum quadrangle of Mars, located at 6.7°S latitude and 226.8°W longitude and is in the northern end of Terra Cimmeria. It is 123 kilometers in diameter. It was named after British astronomer Edward Knobel; the name was approved in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Minor planet
A minor planet is an astronomical object in direct orbit around the Sun (or more broadly, any star with a planetary system) that is neither a planet nor exclusively classified as a comet. Before 2006 the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially used the term minor planet, but during that year's meeting it reclassified minor planets and comets into dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies (SSSBs).Minor planets can be dwarf planets, asteroids, trojans, centaurs, Kuiper belt objects, and other trans-Neptunian objects. As of 2018, the orbits of 757,626 minor planets were archived at the Minor Planet Center, 516,386 of which had received permanent numbers (for the complete list, see index).The first minor planet to be discovered was Ceres in 1801. The term minor planet has been used since the 19th century to describe these objects. The term planetoid has also been used, especially for larger (planetary) objects such as those the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has called dwarf planets since 2006. Historically, the terms asteroid, minor planet, and planetoid have been more or less synonymous. This terminology has become more complicated by the discovery of numerous minor planets beyond the orbit of Jupiter, especially trans-Neptunian objects that are generally not considered asteroids. A minor planet seen releasing gas may be dually classified as a comet.
Objects are called dwarf planets if their own gravity is sufficient to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium and form an ellipsoidal shape. All other minor planets and comets are called small Solar System bodies. The IAU stated that the term minor planet may still be used, but the term small Solar System body will be preferred. However, for purposes of numbering and naming, the traditional distinction between minor planet and comet is still used.Niesten (crater)
Niesten is an impact crater on Mars, located in the Iapygia quadrangle at 28.3°S latitude and 302.3°W longitude. It measures 115 kilometers in diameter and was named after Belgian astronomer Louis Niesten. The name was approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature in 1973.Richardson (Martian crater)
Richardson is a crater in the Mare Australe quadrangle on Mars, located at 72.6°S and 180.4°W. It measures 95.9 kilometers in diameter and was named after Lewis Fry Richardson. The name was approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1973.Sitka (crater)
Sitka is an impact crater on the planet Mars. It measures 16.89 kilometres (10.5 mi) in diameter and was named after the city of Sitka in Alaska, United States. The name was approved by the International Astronomical Union in 1976.Smith (Martian crater)
Smith is an impact crater on Mars, located in the Mare Australe quadrangle at 66.1°S latitude and 102.9°W longitude. It measures 74.33 kilometers in diameter and was named after English geologist William Smith (1769–1839). The name was approved in 1973, by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.Tombaugh (crater)
Tombaugh is an impact crater on Mars, located in the Elysium quadrangle at 3.5°N latitude and 198.2°W longitude. It measures 60.3 kilometers in diameter and was named after Clyde Tombaugh, American astronomer (1906–1997). The name was approved in 2006, by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.Vinogradov (crater)
Vinogradov is an impact crater in the Margaritifer Sinus quadrangle of Mars, located at 20.2°S°S latitude and 37.7°W°W longitude. It measures 223.5 km in diameter and was named after Alexander Pavlovich Vinogradov, and the name was approved in 1979 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN).Vinogradsky (crater)
Vinogradsky is an impact crater in the Eridania quadrangle of Mars, located at 56.5°S latitude and 216.2°W longitude. It measures 64 kilometers in diameter and was named after Sergei Winogradsky. The name was approved in 1973, by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.Weinbaum (crater)
Weinbaum is an impact crater in the Mare Australe quadrangle of Mars, located at 65.5°S latitude and 245.4°W longitude. It measures 82 kilometers in diameter and was named after American science fiction writer Stanley Weinbaum (1902–1935). The name was adopted in 1973 by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.