The International Astronomical Union is an international association of professional astronomers, at the PhD level and beyond, active in professional research and education in astronomy. They can be found at https://www.iau.org and celebrated 100 years in 2019.
Some of their well known functions include acting as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations and names to celestial bodies, which include stars, planets, and asteroids, and any surface features on said objects. Another function that the IAU is well known for is bringing scientists together to discuss important matters to the astronomical and space community. The IAU does have outreach projects and events, which look fascinating for the community to get involved in. These outreach events can be found at their website https://www.iau-100.org.
The IAU was founded during the Constitutive Assembly of the International Research Council that July, which was held in Brussels in 1919. The founding of the IAU was a result of several organizations at the time consolidating into a new group.
As of August 1st 2019, the IAU includes a total of 13,701 individual members, who are professional astronomers from 102 countries worldwide. 81.7% of all individual members are male, while 18.3% are female.
The sovereign body of the IAU is its General Assembly, which comprises all members. The Assembly determines IAU policy, approves the Statutes and By-Laws of the Union (and amendments proposed thereto) and elects various committees.
The right to vote on matters brought before the Assembly varies according to the type of business under discussion. The Statutes consider such business to be divided into two categories:
- issues of a “primarily scientific nature” (as determined by the Executive Committee), upon which voting is restricted to individual members, and
- all other matters (such as Statute revision and procedural questions), upon which voting is restricted to the representatives of national members.
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 XXXIst IAU General Assembly is set to meet in Busan, South Korea in 2021.