IAU General Assembly Symposia and Focus Meetings Proposal Submission Deadline: December 15, 2013
December 15, 2013 is the proposal submission deadline for Symposia and Focus Meetings at the August 2015 IAU General Assembly in Honolulu (more information on the General Assembly can be found below). The Symposia and Focus Meetings are excellent venues to present new science in every area of astrophysics. In addition, this opportunity allows participants to organize a meeting under the umbrella of the IAU, avoiding the usual meeting logistics and instead, focusing on science. More information on the benefits of proposing Symposia and Focus Meetings can be found in the letter of support by USNC/IAU Chair Lynne Hillenbrand, Martha Haynes, and Robert Williams.
United States to Host IAU GA in 2015
The IAU General Assembly is coming to the United States! Honolulu, Hawaii will be the venue of the IAU’s XXIX General Assembly from August 3-14, 2015. The last IAU GA held in the U.S. was in Baltimore, MD in 1988.
The meeting website is already up at astronomy2015.org
. For now, the website contains basic information, but in the coming months, additional information will be added, including program specifics, travel advice, and tour opportunities. For example, tours of telescope facilities in Hawaii will be offered before, before, during and after the GA but will not conflict with the scientific sessions.
The IAU GA will replace AAS’ regular summer meeting in 2015. As Kevin Marvel, executive officer at the American Astronomical Society, stated at the IAU General Assembly in Beijing, “The next General Assembly will be an interesting and exciting conference, enabling collaboration and networking while enhancing our scientific understanding of the universe through shared discourse.” We hope to see you there!
Upcoming Gruber Cosmology Prize Deadline: December 15, 2013
The Gruber Cosmology Prize
honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the Universe. The prize consists of a gold medal and a cash prize of roughly $500,000. The deadline for nominations for the Gruber Cosmology Prize is December 15, 2013. For more information, see: http://www.gruberprizes.org/Nominations/Cosmology.php Applications for IAU Membership
The USNC/IAU invites qualified scientists to apply for individual membership in the IAU. This is done in the year before the IAU General Assembly, so the next application cycle will open in late 2014. Applications are reviewed by a subcommittee of the USNC, approved by the full committee, and then forwarded to the IAU Executive Office in Paris for official action. Voting on membership recommendations takes place by the IAU General Assembly. When is the Next Application Cycle?: The application cycle for IAU membership opens approximately 9 months before the IAU General Assembly. Check back on our website for additional information in late 2014.
Who is Eligible to Apply?:
Membership in IAU is open to individuals as well as countries. New members are encouraged to contribute to the work of IAU Divisions and Commissions. The procedures for submission and approval of membership applications are described in Chapter II of the Working Rules. Consult general information on IAU Individual Membership on the IAU webpage.
IAU Addresses Scientific Issues
The IAU, through its Divisions and national members, addresses topics of importance to the worldwide astronomical community. At the 2012 IAU General Assembly in Beijing, three scientific resolutions were approved. The U.S. delegation supported all of these. Brief summaries of the Resolutions follow, and more detailed discussions can be found on the IAU website.
- Guidelines for the designations and specifications of optical and infrared astronomical photometric passbands. This resolution was proposed by IAU Commission 25 to alleviate the considerable confusion that has existed and continues to exist in the defining and naming of photometric passbands of all spectral widths in the visible and infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The resolution aims to minimizes such confusion, and has been a long-time goal of members of Commission 25. The resolution was approved unanimously by the GA.
- The re-definition of the astronomical unit (au) of length was proposed and supported by the IAU Division I Working Group on Numerical Standards. The resolution was introduced by Dennis McCarthy, U. S. Naval Observatory (retired), President of IAU Division I. The resolution was unanimously approved, so now the astronomical unit (au) is defined as a fixed num¬ber as: au=149 597 870 700 m exactly. This definition can be used with all-time scales such as Barycentric Coordinate Time, Barycentric Dynamical Time, Geocentric Coordinate Time, Terrestrial Time, etc. This elim¬inates possible conflicts with SI units, dependence on theories of motion, and requirements for additional conventions within the relativistic framework.
- Establishment of an International Near Earth Object (NEO) early warning system. This resolution was proposed by IAU Division III Working Group on Near Earth Objects. It addressed the threat posed by NEOs. As stated in the resolution, there is now ample evidence that the probability of catastrophic impacts of Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) on the Earth, potentially highly destructive to life, and for humankind in particular, is not negligible and that appropriate actions are needed to avoid such catastrophes that would arise for the largest NEOs. Thanks to the efforts of the astronomical community and of several space agencies, the cataloguing of the potentially hazardous NEOs, the monitoring of their impact possibilities and the analysis of technologically feasible mitigations is reaching a satisfactory level. Even the impact of small- to moderate-sized objects may represent a great threat to our civilizations and to the international community. The resolution notes that NEOs are a threat to all nations on Earth, and therefore all nations should contribute to avert this threat. The resolution recommends that the IAU National Members work with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and the International Council for Science (ICSU) to coordinate and collaborate on the establishment of an International NEO early warning system, relying on the scientific and technical advice of the relevant astronomical community, whose main purpose is the reliable identification of potential NEO collisions with the Earth, and the communication of the relevant parameters to suitable decision makers of the nation(s) involved.
Naming a Star
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the only body that officially names stars, and it has responsibility for this because it represents astronomers worldwide. The IAU names stars using a numbering system (not names) that defines a star’s position in the sky. The IAU has two very good pages on its website that talk about the process of naming stars (http://www.iau.org/public_press/themes/naming/) and buying star names (http://www.iau.org/public_press/themes/buying_star_names/).
IAU Strategic Plan: “Teaching Astronomy for Development”
The IAU operates under a strategic plan, adopted in 2009, which calls for expanding astronomy development programs over the next decade. The plan builds on the past success of IAU education, teaching and outreach programs as well as the International Year of Astronomy.
Major points of the 2010-2020 Strategic Plan
The complete Strategic Plan, with 2012 update on implementation