The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






International Astronomical Union

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) unites national astronomical societies from around the world. It is a member of the International Council of Science (ICSU). It is the recognised authority for the naming of stars, planets, asteroids and other celestial bodies and phenomena.

Working groups include the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), which maintains the IAU naming conventions for planetary bodies.

The IAU is also responsible for the system of Astronomical Telegrams , although it does not run it.

The IAU was founded in 1919, as a merger of various international projects including the Carte du Ciel, the Solar Union and the International Time Bureau (Bureau International de l'Heure). The first president was Benjamin Baillaud.

The IAU currently has 9040 individual members, i.e., professional astronomers (mainly) at the PhD level, and 63 national members, i.e., countries that are affiliated with the IAU. 87 per cent of all members are male, 13 per cent are female. The current president is Ronald D. Ekers .

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Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04