For most of its first 100 years, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has accomplished its mission to promote and safeguard astronomy through international collaboration, via the work of its individual members organised into Divisions, Commissions, and Working Groups. Recently the IAU created three (soon to be four) new satellite offices, greatly expanding its capabilities in support of astronomical education, public outreach, and the use of astronomy for development. In some cases, these offices share the same goals as other Union structures. To minimise duplication and maximise synergy, the IAU is working to clarify and enhance the relationships between its Offices and the Divisions, Commissions, and Working Groups with which they overlap.
The first result of this effort is a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the IAU Commission C2, Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP), and the IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The OAO was established soon after the hugely successful 2009 International Year of Astronomy (IYA), to coordinate the IAU’s newly invigorated outreach activities, and shares C2’s aim of improving astronomy communication with the public. Prepared in collaboration with the IAU General Secretary and the President of Division C, the MoU was signed by the OAO’s International Outreach Coordinator (IOC) and C2’s President in April 2019. First and foremost, it specifies that the IOC serves as an ex-officio member of the C2 Organising Committee (OC) and that the President of C2 participates as an advisor in the oversight of the OAO.
The OAO will be permanently involved in regular activities previously undertaken by C2, including the CAPjournal and the CAP Conference. The OAO’s IOC serves as Editor in Chief of the CAPjournal and, as of 2018, the journal is published by the OAO’s host institution, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The C2 CAPjournal Working Group has been discontinued, but a representative of the C2 OC shall serve on the journal’s editorial board, to maintain continuity in the publication and its mission. The IOC shall also serve as co-chair of the C2 CAP Conference Scientific Organising Committee. The 2018 conference in Fukuoka was co-organised by the OAO and NAOJ, and attracted a record number of participants. The position of the IOC on the organising committee will ensure continued cooperation.
The MoU, which has an initial term of three years, also describes ways in which the OAO and C2 can be mutually supportive by, for example, promoting their respective activities to each other’s networks.
The IAU sees the OAO–C2 MoU as a model for cooperation between its satellite offices and other scientific bodies.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.
President IAU Commission C2
International Outreach Coordinator, Office for Astronomy Outreach
Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621