The IAU is reaching out to engage with amateur astronomers
The International Astronomical Union, as part of its Strategic Plan 2020-30, is reaching out to
engage with amateur astronomers around the world. The IAU is the body of professional
astronomers, with some 12,000 members in 90 countries and with its headquarters in Paris.
For the first century of its existence, the IAU has had very few formal contacts with the much
larger body of amateurs around the world. This changed in 2019 with a successful one-day
workshop for amateurs in Brussels, followed by the formation of a new Working Group in
April 2021 for professional-amateur relations in astronomy.
At the present time, no-one has a clear idea of how many amateurs there are in the world, but
it is likely to be of the order of a million individuals, some two orders of magnitude greater
than the number of active professionals in the IAU. The new pro-am WG wants to reach out
to the amateur community, with the aim of promoting research collaborations with some of
the most active amateurs. Further workshops are also envisaged, following on from Brussels
2019, and the IAU program ‘Meet the Astronomer’, in which professionals give talks to
amateur societies, will be further promoted.
As a first step, the IAU has collected a database of the principal amateur societies,
associations and groups in different countries, and from mid-December 2021 to February
2022 a survey will be carried out, asking both these societies and their members to respond
with their views on how best amateurs can engage with the IAU professional community.
The WG wants as many amateurs as possible to complete the survey, so that a statistical
analysis of the interests of amateurs can be undertaken, and the level of amateur research
being done. Professional astronomers with an interest in pro-am relations are also encouraged
to complete the survey, and some professionals may wish to join the new WG. The survey is
a prelude to encouraging future professional-amateur research collaborations.
LINK to Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/IAU_ProAm
Feedback from the survey will be very helpful as we consider how best to move forward.
Any questions should be directed to the IAU Pro-Am Working Group Secretary Yuko
Kakazu at IAU.email@example.com.
It is hoped to receive survey replies by the end of January in the first instance
IAU Pro-Am Working Group
Aniket Sule, HBCSE-TIFR, Mumbai, India – Chairperson
John Hearnshaw, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand – CoChairperson
Tim Spuck, Associated Universities Inc., Washington DC, USA – Deputy
Ilya Usoskin, Oulu University, Oulu, Finland – liaison of WG with IAU Executive
Yuko Kakazu, Subaru Telescope & NAOJ, TMT Project, Hawaii – WG Secretary
Lina Canas, IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach, Tokyo, Japan – liaison with IAU
Office for Astronomy Outreach
Beatriz Garcia, Institute of Technologies for Detection and Astroparticles-ITeDA
(CNEA, CONICET, UNSAM), Mendoza, Argentina
Moein Mosleh, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran
Antonia Varela Perez, Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias & Starlight Foundation,
Mirjana Povic, Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), Addis
Kaz Sekiguchi, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Tokyo, Japan
Boonrucksar Soonthornthum, National Astronomical Research Institute of
Thailand, Chiang Mai, Thailand