ann19056 — Announcement

Gagarin crater
6 September 2019
Astronomers as Diplomats — an IAU@100 Conference in Paris

In the context of the IAU centenary celebrations, a conference will be held in Paris on 4 October 2019, on the theme Astronomers as Diplomats: When the IAU builds bridges between nations. 

Thierry Montmerle (past General Secretary, 2012–2015), and Teresa Lago (current General Secretary) are co-organisers of the meeting, which is sponsored by the Académie des Sciences and which celebrates this year the five scientific Unions founded in 1919 [1].

Born in the aftermath of World War I, the IAU has had to cope with many crises and conflicts between nations throughout its history, and it played an important role in building bridges between their astronomers. This one-day IAU@100 celebration will be held at the Institute of Astrophysics in Paris and the Paris Observatory, and discussions will among other things address:

  • The difficult creation and early evolution of the IAU (1919–1922)
  • The China crisis (when China left the IAU for 20 years, 1960–1980)
  • The complex adherence of Germany after World War II
  • The role played by the IAU on lunar nomenclature in the midst of the USA-USSR rivalry during the “Moon race”
  • A little known, but fundamental, conflict between the IAU and the United Nations, about the prerogative to name features on celestial objects (with unpublished documents found in the IAU Archives), 
  • The IAU–UNESCO Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative.

Space is limited and registration is mandatory (but free), by emailing Thierry Montmerle.

A book about the conference will be published by Springer, as a companion to the Andersen et al. Centenary book [2].

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, 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.


[1] In addition to the IAU: the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics, the International Union for Radio Science, the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, and the International Union of Biological Sciences (all with French first Presidents, and all members of the French Academy of Sciences).

[2] Andersen, J., Baneke, D. & Madsen C. 2019, The International Astronomical Union, Uniting the Community for 100 years (Cham, Switzerland: Springer), 376 pp.



Thierry Montmerle
Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris (IAP)
Paris, France

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

About the Announcement



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