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December 2017

Dear IAU members,

The end of the year is approaching and it is time to look back at what we have achieved this year and what we should expect for next year, the year of the XXXth General Assembly.

Let’s start with the significance of the Press Release which was issued last week: Hands in the Stars: The First International Comparative List of Astronomical Words in Sign Languages. This achievement is part of a wider initiative that the IAU is pursuing with increasing motivation, which will form part of the new Strategic Plan: using astronomy for better inclusion. Astronomy can offer to those minorities that society might marginalise because of physical disabilities or social conditions, the possibility to demonstrate that they can actively participate in research as well as anybody else.  A variety of “inclusion” activities will be presented at the General Assembly in Vienna with the aim of encouraging the participants to take them back to their respective countries.

On a more scientific note, we should congratulate once more all the astronomers that contributed to the first observation of electromagnetic emission from a gravitational wave source. Beyond the scientific value of the detection, we should highlight the impressive capability of the astronomical community to react so quickly and efficiently to this unique target of opportunity.

Coming to matters more strictly related to the IAU, we were happy to receive 39 letters of intent to organise IAU Symposia in 2019, the year of the 100th anniversary of the Union. The full proposals are due by 15 December and the final selection will be made known soon after the Executive Committee Meeting #100, which will take place in Vienna on 17-19 April, 2018.

15 December is also the deadline for other submissions: nominations for the Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize, for the 2017 IAU PhD Prize and for new National Membership. For the last of these, we have received more than 10 letters of intent and several full applications have already been submitted. We hope to approve the largest entry of new National Members in the history of the Union in Vienna next year.

Similarly, we expect to approve the entry of a large number of new Individual Members, including, for the first time, Junior Members. The call for nominations should have been issued by the respective National Committees for Astronomy, but I encourage you all to publicise this possibility within your local community.

A sign of the increased interest in the Union has also been demonstrated by the large number of countries (eight!) that expressed their interest in hosting the XXXIInd General Assembly in 2024. This is the largest oversubscription ever and the Executive Committee have decided to proceed with a two-step process – they will first pre-select up to four countries to submit a full proposal before making the final selection.

The programme for the celebration of the 100 year anniversary of the IAU in 2019 is taking shape: a programme coordinator, Jorge Rivero González, has been appointed and recently started his activity. The programme will be rich and diverse and its full implementation will require active collaboration between the National Members. For this purpose, the network of National Outreach Coordinators, that was successfully operating during the IYA2009 is being revitalised by the Office of Astronomy Outreach. The CAP Conference next year, will be an excellent opportunity to discuss the implementation of the programme worldwide.

Piero Benvenuti 
IAU General Secretary

  IAU Press Releases

IAU Approves 86 New Star Names From Around the World

11 December 2017: The International Astronomical Union’s Working Group on Star Names formally approved 86 new names for stars, which are now in the IAU stellar name catalogue. The catalogue now contains the ...

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Scientific Dates & Deadlines

19 - 23 Feb 2018
IAUS 340: Long-term datasets for the understanding of solar and stellar magnetic cycles

14 - 18 May 2018
IAUS 342: Perseus in Sicily: from black hole to cluster outskirts

20 - 31 Aug 2018
XXX IAU General Assembly

20 - 21 Aug 2018
FM13: Global Coordination of International Astrophysics and Heliophysics Activities from Space and Ground

Administrative Dates & Deadlines

15 Dec 2017
DEADLINE for Submission of Full Proposals for 2019 Symposia

15 Dec 2017
DEADLINE for Nominations for the Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize

15 Dec 2017
DEADLINE for Applications for National Membership

15 Dec 2017
Draft Budget to be Distributed by the EC to the National Members


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