International Astronomical Union

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IAU logo
Opening ceremony of the 26th General Assembly 2006 in Prague

The International Astronomical Union ( IAU ; French Union astronomique internationale , UAI ) is a worldwide association of astronomers founded in Brussels in 1919 with headquarters in Paris . Its aim is to promote astronomy and its research through international collaboration. Along with other similar organizations for other branches of science, it is a member of the International Science Council , which is also based in Paris. As of November 2008, the IAU has 9623 individual members from 86 countries around the world and 65 national members, that is, astronomical societies and academies .

The German astronomers and astronomical associations are represented in the IAU by the Council of German Observatories .

Organizational matters

The non-governmental organization has held a general assembly every three years in alternating countries since 1922 . Exceptions are the world war years and 1973, when shortly after the regular one in Sydney an additional, unscheduled general assembly was held in Warsaw, on Polish request on the occasion of the upcoming 500th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus . The additional date was enforced from 1967 by the German President of the IAU, Otto Heckmann , under the impression of German war acts in occupied Poland against the resistance of many astronomers.

At the general assembly, new astronomical discoveries are discussed and necessary collaborations and standardizations are dealt with. In this way, questions of nomenclature are clarified, such as the naming of stars , planets , asteroids and other celestial bodies as well as surface features such as mountains and craters.

No. Name of the commission
4th Ephemeris
5 Documentation and
astronomical data
6th Astronomical telegrams
7th Celestial mechanics and
dynamic astronomy
8th Astrometry
9 Astronomical Techniques
and Instruments
10 Solar activity
12 Radiation and structure of
the solar atmosphere
14th Atomic and molecular data
15th Physical study of
comets and small planets
16 Physical study of
planets and satellites
19th Earth rotation
20th Positions and movements of small
planets, comets and satellites
21st Night sky light
22nd Meteors, meteorites and
interplanetary dust
25th Star photometry and polarimetry
26th Double and multiple stars
27 Variable stars
28 Galaxies
29 Star spectra
30th Radial velocity
31 time
33 Structure and dynamics of
the galactic system
34 Interstellar matter
35 Star structure
36 Theory of stellar atmospheres
37 Star clusters and associations
40 Radio astronomy
41 History of astronomy
42 Close double stars
44 Space and
high energy astrophysics
45 Star classification
46 Astronomy training
47 cosmology
49 Interplanetary plasma
and heliosphere
50 Protection of the existing and
potential observatory sites
51 Bioastronomy:
Search for extraterrestrial life

About 37 IAU commissions are responsible for various subject areas and for the planning and implementation of research programs at supranational level. There are also various working groups, such as those for the nomenclature of the planetary system (WGPSN: Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature).

The IAU is the patron of numerous international astronomical conferences such as special symposia and colloquia, as well as the Minor Planet Center and the Central Office for Astronomical Telegrams at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts , which is responsible for the central intelligence service . In addition, the IAU also promotes astronomy in developing countries .


The commission of the Carte du Ciel project can be regarded as the original organization of the IAU, which from 1887 expanded its interest in the measurement of star positions to other areas of astronomy.

Year and place of the general assembly
31. 2021 Busan , South KoreaKorea SouthSouth Korea 
30th 2018 Vienna , AustriaAustriaAustria 
29 2015 Honolulu , United StatesUnited StatesUnited States 
28. 2012 Beijing , People's Republic of ChinaChina People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China 
27. 2009 Rio de Janeiro , BrazilBrazilBrazil 
26th 2006 Prague , Czech RepublicCzech RepublicCzech Republic 
25th 2003 Sydney , AustraliaAustraliaAustralia 
24. 2000 Manchester , EnglandEnglandEngland 
23. 1997 Kyoto , JapanJapanJapan 
22nd 1994 The Hague , NetherlandsNetherlandsNetherlands 
21st 1991 Buenos Aires , ArgentinaArgentinaArgentina 
20th 1988 Baltimore , United StatesUnited StatesUnited States 
19th 1985 New Delhi , IndiaIndiaIndia 
18th 1982 Patras , GreeceGreeceGreece 
17th 1979 Montreal , CanadaCanadaCanada 
16. 1976 Grenoble , FranceFranceFrance 
15th 1973 Sydney , AustraliaAustraliaAustralia 
14th 1970 Brighton , EnglandEnglandEngland 
13. 1967 Prague , CzechoslovakiaCzechoslovakia 1920Czechoslovakia 
12. 1964 Hamburg , FR GermanyGermany BRBR Germany 
11. 1961 Berkeley , United StatesUnited StatesUnited States 
10. 1958 Moscow , Soviet UnionSoviet UnionSoviet Union 
9. 1955 Dublin , IrelandIrelandIreland 
8th. 1952 Rome , ItalyItalyItaly 
7th 1948 Zurich , SwitzerlandSwitzerlandSwitzerland 
6th 1938 Stockholm , SwedenSwedenSweden 
5. 1935 Paris , FranceFranceFrance 
4th 1932 Cambridge , United StatesUnited StatesUnited States 
3. 1928 Leiden , NetherlandsNetherlandsNetherlands 
2. 1925 Cambridge , EnglandEnglandEngland 
1. 1922 Rome , ItalyItalyItaly 

In 1922 in Rome , the IAU determined the current number of 88 constellations . In 1925 in Cambridge , England , the Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte was commissioned by her to draw the exact boundaries of the constellations. In 1928 in Leiden these borders were approved by her.

At the 2006 General Assembly in Prague , the redefinition of the planets of the solar system attracted particularly great public attention; it led to Pluto no longer being considered a planet.

The 30th IAU General Assembly took place from August 20 to 31 , 2018 in Vienna (Austria). The organizer was the Vienna University Observatory . During the two weeks of this conference, which was attended by around 3000 participants, 7 large symposia and 15 smaller conferences (focus meetings) took place in parallel . In addition, there were meetings of the 9 departments of the IAU.

See also


Web links

Commons : International Astronomical Union  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. (PDF)
  2. XXXth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, accessed on February 19, 2018.