ann24014 — Announcement

Participants at the Pontifical Academy Workshop on Astrophysics
8 May 2024
Final Statement of Pontifical Academy Workshop on Astrophysics Mentions Importance of Dark & Quiet Skies

From 27-29 February 2024, a prestigious workshop on the subject of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) took place at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) at the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican. The final statement and summary of the meeting have now been published.

The event, which was called “The James Webb Space Telescope: From First Light to New World Views,” was co-organised by IAU national member for the Vatican, Brother Guy Consolmagno, and IAU Past President Ewine van Dishoeck, with IAU Interim General Secretary Piero Benvenuti as one of the speakers.

The statement mentions the importance of dark and quiet skies, with a highlight of the work being done by the IAU Centre for the Protection of the Dark and Quiet Sky from Satellite Constellation Interference (CPS), and the impact it is having with its spirit of cooperation and international teamwork. The project’s ultimate goal is to turn best practices into a regulatory framework to be endorsed internationally and adopted by appropriate national agencies.

More broadly, the goal of this workshop was to focus on the exciting new results from JWST on topics including the earliest galaxies, galaxy evolution, the lifecycle of stars and the interstellar medium, exoplanets and protoplanetary disks, and the Solar System. The event also reflected on what this new knowledge means for science and society, and what we can learn from JWST outreach and public engagement efforts and other international facilities that could also be applicable to other disciplines.

Additionally, a philosophy session during the workshop included a talk by Dutch poet Marjolijn van Heemstra summarising one of the main reasons why astronomy is important for society: "A responsibility to awe," a quote attributed to Canadian astronomer Rebecca Elson.

The full programme consisted of talks and panel discussions. Videos and written versions of these sessions will follow soon on the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) website.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 12 000 active 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.



Ewine van Dishoeck
IAU Past President

Piero Benvenuti
IAU Interim General Secretary

Lina Canas
IAU Membership Coordinator
Email: /

Guido Schwarz
IAU Press Officer

About the Announcement



Participants at the Pontifical Academy Workshop on Astrophysics