IAU for amateur astronomers?

Forums General Discussion IAU for amateur astronomers?

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • #620821
    Roger Dymock

    Would there be any advantage in forming an IAU equivalent for amateur astronomers or do we have quite enough to do already? Answers on a Christmas Card.

    Martin Mobberley


    You may already know this….
    Patrick and a Swedish amateur astronomer, Ulf Johansson, wrote a letter to Sky & Telescope magazine in May 1966 proposing an amateur IAU (IUAA). The idea gained ground at the IAU meeting in Prague in 1967. Very quickly Patrick organised the IUAA with a few friends, including Leif J. Robinson, Vin Barocas and others. Patrick found 19 coordinators in 17 countries (USA and USSR had 2 coordinators). There were successful meetings at Bologna (1969), Malmo (1972), Hamilton (1975), Dublin (1978) and Brussels (1981). After that interest waned and the IUAA disappeared.


    Roger Dymock

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks – didn’t know that. Communication should be much easier these days and mtgs could be in-person, hybrid or on-line so no need for expensive travel accomodation. Lets see….

    David Arditti

    It might be better for the actual IAU to have an amateur branch, thus using the administrative resources they already have, and not setting up an entirely new organisation. I have had some contact with the IAU Assistant General Secretary, who is British. A problem with the ‘amateur IAU’ idea today is that this might be seen to cut-across the IAU’s new, and major, Citizen Science agenda. ‘Citizen Science’ was not a term that existed in the 1960s-80s. The landscape has changed.

    Grant Privett

    I must admit I am curious as to what potential benefits you saw coming from this?

    Roger Dymock

    Hi Grant,
    Didn’t have any specific thoughts, just wanted to garner some views on the matter. Will have to take a look at the IAU’s Citizen Science agenda as mentioned by David.

    Grant Privett

    Fair enough – just assumed you would have some overall purpose in mind.

    I must admit, like Martin, I remembered PM’s membership of the IUAA – I think it used to appear in the potted bio in some of his books.

    John O’Neill

    As mentioned by Martin, the IUAA had their General Assembly in Dublin in 1978. Also there, Patrick Moore gave a public lecture in the Mansion House. I remember it well, as this was my first time to attend an astronomical talk! I am afraid I cannot remember the actual title of Patrick’s talk. I did not attend the excellent IUAA event itself as I had not yet joined the IAS.

    Quite a few of the IAS members were involved with the IUAA. My memory was that James Kelly, Ciaran Kilbride, Eamonn Ansbro & Vincent Deasy were the IAS representatives.

    The IAUU had very laudable ambitions of setting up worldwide observing sections. However, one problem was they were overlapping (in part) with organisations like the BAA and the AAVSO etc which were already doing a good job.


    Roger Dymock

    I looked at various IAU Citizen Science related websites and wasn’t to impressed. They seem to consist of links, some of which didn’t work, to other organisations without any added value.

    Roger Dymock

    Perhaps what would be useful is for the various national organisations, or sections thereof, to get together occasionally to swap ideas, broadcast their activities, suggest campaigns. Would not be too difficult in this era of hybrid/on-line meetings. We should have a lot to learn from one another.

    Grant Privett

    Blame it on an excess of pre-Christmas mince pies, but how does the IAU organising an astronomy meeting in a developed country undermine anyone – whether attached to “local” history or not?

    Personally, I object to the IAU because one of the reasons it used to justify Pluto not being a planet was that it hadn’t cleared its orbit, but neither has Jupiter. There was no reason Pluto could not reside in the historical list of planets and also as the first Plutino/KBO/TNO.

    Have a Cool Yule.

    Nick James

    This thread has wandered way off topic.

    Grant – I think that those mince pies have clouded your judgement! Don’t fall for the pro-Pluto propaganda. The term is loose but the possible criteria for “orbit clearing” are strong. One of the best was actually proposed by Alan Stern himself. In this scheme even Mars is five orders of magnitude above Pluto:


    Have a great Christmas everyone.

    Dr Paul Leyland

    I do love a good religious argument, which is why I will jump in feet first.

    Like many, I think taxonomy is very important. There is room, IMO, for the taxonomic term “planet”. Think biology, where “genus” has a rather well defined meaning. Biology also has species and sub-species.

    In my view the adjectives “terrestrial”, “ice-giant”, “super-earth”, “sub-neptune”, “dwarf”, “binary” and “satellite” are all species or sub-species of planet, as are many others.

    Ceres is a dwarf planet. Venus is a terrestrial planet, Ganymede is a dwarf satellite planet, as are Luna and Charon. All are planets.

    Planetologists, as opposed to astrophysicists, appear to agree with this taxonomy.

    Compare Felis catus and Felis sylvestris, each of which live in the UK. Both are Felids.

    • This reply was modified 5 months, 4 weeks ago by Dr Paul Leyland. Reason: Clarification
    • This reply was modified 5 months, 4 weeks ago by Dr Paul Leyland.
    Grant Privett

    But you can never have enough mince tarts at Christmas.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.