iau1903 — Press Release

Opening of the 100 Years Under One Sky Celebration Flagship Ceremony
12 April 2019
The IAU Celebrates its Centenary

The IAU 1919–2019: 100 Years Under One Sky Celebration Flagship Ceremony took place at the Palace of the Academies in Brussels (Belgium) on 11–12 April 2019. The event was held in the location where the IAU was founded 100 years ago.

The IAU100 100 Years Under One Sky Flagship Ceremony featured dedicated sessions with high-level representatives and prominent astronomers, with a focus on astronomy for diplomacy and peace, development, education, outreach, arts, and its involvement with the high-tech industry.

The commemoration of this anniversary is not just an opportunity to look back and celebrate, it is also an opportunity to look ahead and reflect critically upon IAU’s role for decades to come,” said Ewine van Dishoeck, IAU President and Leiden University professor. “This event reminds us of the range of possibilities that await us; we may be the first generation to answer the question of whether we are alone in the Universe.

Notable speakers at the event included Nobel Prize Laureates Brian Schmidt (Australian National University) and Ben Feringa (Center for Systems Chemistry, University of Groningen), Chiaki Mukai (JAXA Astronaut and Vice President of Tokyo University of Science), John Grunsfeld (NASA Astronaut), Phil Mjwara (Director General of the Department of Science and Technology of South Africa) and Maria Popova (author, BrainPickings.org).

Astronomy is a world science that thrives when humanity does,” explained Nobel Prize Laureate Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University. “The world looks to space and astronomy to bring it together” added Schmidt.

The flagship proceedings also demonstrated how the IAU can facilitate astronomy as a means to look outward and forward. “The impact of astronomy on society is not possible without professional astronomers,” said Maria Teresa Ruiz of the Universidad de Chile.

Tomorrow, on Saturday 13 April 2019, the IAU will organise its first event for amateur astronomers in the same location. Through presentations by both professional and amateur astronomers, this meeting aims to further build the relationship between amateur astronomers, their organisations and the IAU. This special event for amateur astronomers will include keynote lectures by prominent scientists, review talks about professional–amateur astronomy projects, parallel sessions to showcase the work of amateur astronomers and panels discussing topics such as what the IAU can do for amateur astronomers.

The event also features the acclaimed Above and Beyond exhibition, which has been commissioned by the IAU to showcase some of the most significant and surprising astronomical breakthroughs that have shaped science, technology and culture over the last century.

The future of the IAU holds interesting developments. The IAU Strategic Plan 2020–2030, approved at the XXX General Assembly in Vienna in August 2018, provides a comprehensive overview of the IAU, presents the long-term goals of the organisation, and describes how the different activities of the Union complement each other in working towards these goals. Corresponding with these goals, the Under One Sky Flagship event included panel discussions about astronomy and science in the next century, science and diplomacy, inclusion and development.

The IAU has over the past decade created three offices: the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD); the Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO); and the Office for Young Astronomers (OYA). The IAU is now establishing the fourth office: the Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE), focused on providing training and resources for using astronomy as a stimulus for teaching and education, from elementary to high school level (astronomy and science education).

More information

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.


Jorge Rivero González
IAU100 Secretariat, Leiden University
Leiden, the Netherlands
Tel: +31 71 527 8445
Email: rivero@mail.strw.leidenuniv.nl

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621
Email: lars@eso.org


Opening of the 100 Years Under One Sky Celebration Flagship Ceremony
Group photo from the 100 Years Under One Sky Celebration Flagship Ceremony