International Astronomical Union Executive Committee meets in Finland for the first time to discuss acute issues for astronomers worldwide 22–24 April

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is one of the oldest and largest unions of professional scientists. It has convened its Executive Committee in Finland - Helsinki and Rovaniemi - for the first time in its history. The meeting, hosted by the University of Oulu, marks a significant moment for Finnish science and global astronomy collaboration.
Space, stars
The Perseus galaxy cluster as seen by the Euclid space telescope. Photo: ESA

IAU deals not only with purely scientific issues but involves also more common matters including the naming of celestial bodies such as minor planets, planets and stars. IAU also addresses the protection of our dark and quiet sky as large constellations of satellites make the sky light-polluted for astronomers, and IAU establishes links between professional and a large population of amateur astronomers. Every year IAU Executive Committee gathers in different places around the globe to discuss and make important decisions and plans for the next triennium.

This meeting is very important for science in Finland which is becoming highly visible on the international scene and is very active in the links between professional scientists and society” – says Vice-president of IAU, Professor Ilya Usoskin from the University of Oulu. The Executive Committee will gather in Finland for its 110th meeting, for the first time under the Polar Star shining right above the heads – which is very unusual for professional astronomers.

IAU also has a major role in furthering the use of astronomy to stimulate teaching in schools and for engagement with the public. Astronomical discoveries often follow from technological advancements. This will be highlighted by the ‘world’s biggest eye on the sky’, the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), currently being constructed by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) which Finland is also a member of” – continues the President of the Finnish National Committee for Astronomy, Professor Seppo Mattila from the university of Turku.

IAU President Debra Elmegreen notes, "We are delighted to have our annual Executive Committee meeting in Finland for the first time. The IAU is based on sharing astronomy by fostering international cooperation. Finland, with its rich history of astronomy has been an integral part of the IAU's heritage. At our meeting, we look forward to important discussions about our plans."

The IAU was founded in 1919 and has around 12,000 members. Finland joined the IAU in 1948 and has currently about 100 professional members of the Union.

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Last updated: 17.4.2024