The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is very pleased that the United Nations has designated 2019 as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements (IYPT 2019) . This is in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the periodic table by Dmitri Mendeleev . The Opening Ceremony is scheduled for 29 January 2019, in the UNESCO Headquarters, Paris.
Chemical elements are central to the existence of ourselves and our surroundings, and their origin has therefore been a basic question for various different disciplines. For astronomers this question has been an important topic of study.
Astronomers have been able to establish that the lightest nuclei, hydrogen and helium, are the building blocks of the periodic table and were formed in the early stages of the Universe. Stars act as thermonuclear furnaces in which hydrogen and helium are fused into heavier nuclei by increasingly high temperatures. Although the basic processes have been widely studied, we are still discovering new information about the origin of the elements.
Recent detections of gravitational waves have confirmed that heavier elements can be created by merging neutron stars. The collision of these compact stellar remnants create gold, platinum, uranium and other heavy elements which are then released into space.
The search for different molecules in astronomical environments has been very successful and surprises us with ever more complex systems as the search continues.
This IYPT will be one of the activities that IAU will commemorate in 2019, as part its Centennial Celebrations.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.
 The General Assembly “proclaims the year beginning on 1 January 2019 the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements to enhance global awareness of, and to increase education in, the basic sciences, with special attention to the countries of the developing world, to improving the quality of everyday life and, inter alia, for future advances in research and development, and invites the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to serve as the lead agency for the International Year, in collaboration with other relevant agencies, within existing resources”.
 The International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements was proclaimed on 20 December 2017 during the United Nations (UN) General Assembly 72nd Session.
President of the Executive Committee of the IAU
Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
Instituto de Astronomía, Mexico
Tel: +52 55 5622 3945
Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621