International Astronomical Union

( Astronomique French International Union, UAI short IAU), founded in 1919 is a worldwide association of astronomers, based in Paris, the International Astronomical Union. Your goal is to promote astronomy through international cooperation. It is next to other similar organizations for other branches of science, a member of the International Council of Scientific Unions ( ICSU ), which also has its headquarters in Paris. With the state from November 2008, the IAU 9623 individual members from 86 countries around the world and 65 national members, ie, astronomical societies and academies.

The German astronomer and astronomical associations are represented in the IAU by the Council German observatories.


The non- governmental organization directed since 1922 in alternating countries every three years a general meeting of. Exceptions are the World War II years, and the year 1973, in which shortly after the regular in Sydney an additional, unscheduled General Assembly in Warsaw had to be held at the request of Polish at the upcoming 500th birthday of Nicolaus Copernicus. The additional date was enforced in 1967 by the German President of the IAU, Otto Heckmann under the impression German military exploits in occupied Poland against the opposition of many astronomers.

At the General Assembly new astronomical discoveries are discussed and dealt with necessary cooperation and standardization. Thus questions of nomenclature to clarify how the naming of stars, planets, asteroids and other celestial bodies and surface features, such as mountains and craters.

About 37 commissions of the IAU are responsible for different subject areas and for the planning and implementation of research programs at a supranational level. In addition, there are also various working groups such as the nomenclature of the planetary system ( WGPSN: Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature ).

The IAU carries the patronage of numerous international astronomical meetings as special symposia and colloquia as well as the minor planet center and the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge (Massachusetts), who shall be the central intelligence agency. In addition, the IAU also promotes astronomy in developing countries.


As Ur - organization of the IAU, the Commission of the project Carte du Ciel can be considered, which expanded their interest in the measurement of star positions from 1887 to other areas of astronomy.

1922 in Rome, the IAU defined the current number of 88 constellations. 1925 in Cambridge, received the Belgian astronomer Eugène Delporte from it the mandate to draw the exact boundaries of the constellations. 1928 in Leiden, these limits have been approved by it.

At the General Assembly of 2006 in Prague attracted the redefinition of the planets of the solar system, particularly large public attention; it meant that Pluto is no longer considered a planet.