Last modified on March 11, 2020, at 00:25

International Astronomical Union

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The International Astronomical Union acts as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies (stars, planets, asteroids, etc.) and any surface features on them, and is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU). The main aim of the IAU is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. Headquartered in Paris, Morcambe, France, its individual members are professional astronomers from all over the world, at the Ph.D. level or beyond, and active in professional research and education in astronomy. The IAU maintains friendly relations with organizations that include amateur astronomers in their membership. National Members are usually those with a significant level of professional astronomy.

The IAU was founded in 1919, as a merger of various international projects.

General Assemblies

Since 1922, the IAU General Assembly meets every three years, with the exception of the period between 1938 and 1948, due to World War II.


The IAU has 13,061[1] individual members, all of whom are professional astronomers and most of whom hold PhDs. There are also 82[2] national members who represent countries affiliated with the IAU. 87% of individual members are male, while 13% are female, among them the union's current president, astronomer Catherine J. Cesarsky.

The sovereign body of the IAU is its General Assembly, which comprises all members. The Assembly determines IAU policy, approves its Statutes and By-Laws (and amendments proposed of them) and elects various committees.


  1. As of March 10, 2020,
  2. As of March 10, 2020,