iau1802 — Press Release

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27 March 2018
IAU Set to Celebrate 100 Years of “Uniting the World to Explore the Universe”

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2019, the IAU will organise a year-long worldwide public engagement celebration under the theme “Uniting our World to Explore the Universe”. The first plans for the celebration were announced at the opening session of the Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2018 Conference in Fukuoka, Japan, the world’s largest gathering of astronomy communicators.

This follows the remarkable success of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 — which reached at least 815 million people across 148 countries, and gave citizens of Earth the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into astronomy’s role in enriching all human cultures. The IAU centennial celebrations (IAU100) will highlight the major achievements of astronomy over the past century, with a strong emphasis on the use of astronomy as a tool for education, development and diplomacy.

The IAU100 year’s activities will take place at global and regional levels, with a special focus at the national and local levels. To coordinate this initiative, the IAU has set up the IAU100 Secretariat, hosted at Leiden University (the Netherlands), which is preparing a series of comprehensive Flagship Programmes on specific themes [1]. The programmes will reach a targeted audience through the IAU outreach network and national astronomy communities to ensure the worldwide success of the initiative.

The IAU100 Secretariat announced the first plans for the celebrations and an overview of the main projects involved during the IAU100 Special Session at the Communicating Astronomy with the Public (CAP) Conference, the largest gathering of astronomy communicators worldwide with over 400 participants from around 50 countries. A call for proposals for Special Projects in support of the IAU100 Goals at local and national level was also launched.

The official launch of the IAU100 celebrations will be held at the 30th IAU General Assembly (GA) in Vienna, Austria, which takes place between 20 and 31 August 2018. During the IAU GA, several events will be organised under the IAU100 framework. They will include the official Kick-off Ceremony, a Special Centenary Symposium and the opening of the IAU100 exhibition: Uniting our World to Explore the Universe.

The IAU 100th anniversary provides us with another wonderful opportunity to highlight to the world the fantastic science, technology and inspiration that astronomy has brought us over the past century as well as its importance as a tool for education, development and diplomacy,” said Ewine van Dishoeck, IAU President-Elect and IAU100 Task Force Chair.


[1] The IAU100 celebration is supported by 9 Flagship Programmes:

  • IAU100 Celebrations
  • Astronomy for Society
  • IAU100 Exhibition
  • New Worlds: ‘Are we alone?’
  • 100 Years of General Relativity: Eclipse
  • Astronomy Natural and Cultural Heritage
  • Inclusive Astronomy
  • Astronomy for Education
  • Star Parties

The IAU Flagship Programmes are global programmes on specific themes that will help to achieve the main goals of IAU100 . Each of the Flagship Programmes will carry several different projects focused on the theme. You can find more information about IAU100 Flagship Programmes here.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects 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.



Jorge Rivero González
IAU100 International Projects Coordinator / Leiden Observatory
Tel: +31 71 527 5737
Email: rivero@strw.leidenuniv.nl

Pedro Russo
Leiden Observatory
Tel: +31 6 54 37 26 58
Email: russo@strw.leidenuniv.nl

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer / ESO ePOD
Garching, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6761
Cell: +49 173 3872 621
Email: lars@eso.org


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