ann20010 — Announcement

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26 March 2020
IAU Measures During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In this time of global health crisis, which is impacting all our lives, the IAU would like to express its sincere sympathy to all those affected, both directly and indirectly, by the Covid-19 pandemic. Naturally, the current circumstances will significantly impact the IAU activities which had been planned to take place during this time. The IAU intends to contribute to the effort to slow the spread of the virus, while continuing to promote astronomy worldwide.

In light of the pandemic, which is a serious threat to all of us, we need to take special measures to ensure that ongoing IAU activities are carried out in a responsible and safe manner. We will, of course, maintain the basic principle that all of our scientific meetings and other activities are inclusive, including in geographic terms.

Although the IAU's mission is to promote international collaboration in astronomy, the clear priority is now on health security. IAU scientific meetings and other activities will be seriously affected by current conditions for the foreseeable future, preventing any astronomer from participating in them in person, regardless of their location. However, we intend these activities to be carried out in the best possible way, under the current restrictions.

IAU Officers have discussed the strategy to be adopted in these difficult times, and have agreed upon the following recommendations:

  • If you are organising a scientific meeting or any other activity planned for 2020, consider adopting creative techniques and holding it in a virtual format; this can be a time to inspire innovative approaches that may even be adopted in the future, under normal circumstances;
  • If you decide that your meeting requires the traditional format, consider cancelling it and submitting a proposal in the future, or postponing it for a safe period — until September 2020 at the earliest, or even later, depending on the evolution of the pandemic; the same applies to astronomy schools or similar activities;
  • As we hope to have the IAU General Assembly in 2021 (16–27 August), which will include in its scientific programme 6 Symposia and 12 Focus Meetings, plus Division Days and other meetings, the postponed symposia should not take place too close to the GA; that is, they should not take place between July and mid-October;
  • Organisers of a regional meeting should also consider cancelling it, or at least postponing it to either the first or the last 2 months of 2021.

Take care — your safety and the safety of your collaborators are our priority. Please act as a responsible scientist and contribute to global safety and wellbeing.

These are exceptional circumstances and the IAU will flexibly consider all proposals that ensure that its activities are carried out in a safe and transparent manner.

Finally, we would like to highlight some of the opportunities for individual participation and education in astronomy that may be opened up by the current circumstances. For those of you taking care of children who would normally be in school, we would like to draw your attention to the educational resources and activity ideas available online. There are many creative ways to continue engaging in astronomy in the current situation, and we encourage you to seek out resources like the one above to help you stay connected and inspired during this time.

The IAU is encouraging outreach professionals, educators, amateur and professional astronomers, and astronomy enthusiasts to organise online events using astronomy as an engagement tool to connect online with their communities. To recognise the incredible and inspiring efforts these professionals are carrying all around the world the IAU is organizing the IAU Online Astronomy@Home Awards. To participate in the online activities must be registered on the IAU Outreach Events Form and implemented between 1 April and 31 July 2020.

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.


Teresa Lago
IAU General Secretary
98bis, bd Arago, F-75014 Paris
Tel. +33 (0)1 43 25 83 58

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

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