IAU Commission 8

Terms of Reference (Final)

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IAU Commission 8 "Astrometry" coordinates all aspects of positional astronomy which ultimately provide 3-dimensional positions and tangential velocities for celestial objects. This includes defining and establishing celestial reference frames and systems with progressively improving precision that are essential for astrometry and its role in other fields of science and practical applications.


Recognizing that the astrometric properties of celestial objects play a fundamental role in astronomy, the Commission is established to:

1. Collaborate in establishing, maintaining, densifying, and improving the celestial reference frames and systems and pursue their adequate extension to various wavelengths and luminosities, and ensure a proper usage by the astronomical community. The very complex and continuous task of reference frames and systems is carried out in collaboration with all Division I constituent commissions and appropriate working groups.

2. Coordinate and vigorously support programs to determine positions, proper motions, and parallaxes of celestial objects and programs that determine parameters of orbital motion and gravitational effects of stellar companions.

3. Support the development of astrometric instrumentation, techniques, software, and theory for ground-based and space astrometric observing programs including virtual observatories and the astrometric potential of the observing facilities designed and mainly used for other purposes.

4. Advance and refine observational techniques, methods, and programs for solar system positional observations and astrometry of extrasolar planetary systems.

5. Provide advice and guidance for the future developments of astrometry and raise awareness on the role that such developments will play in the whole of astronomical science. Support preservation and digitization efforts of the world-wide astrometric photographic heritage.

6. Encourage research and education in astrometry, including setting up new groups and centers of astrometry. Disseminate information and education on astrometry via WWW, newsletters, presentations, scientific papers, books and popular articles.

7. Propose IAU resolutions related to astrometry which enforce adopted standards, technical aspects, and conventions world-wide.

8. Promote astrometry-related activities by preparing and submitting meeting proposals to the IAU Executive Committee and by supporting other meetings or international schools of interest to the members of the Commission.

Organization and Implementation

Commission 8 of the International Astronomical Union is part of the IAU Scientific Division I "Fundamental Astronomy". The Commission consists of members and consultants. Its daily functioning is conducted by the Organizing Committee (OC) and directed by the Commission's President.

An IAU member wishing to join the Commission must submit a written request (e.g. by electronic mail) to the Commission's President at any time between the IAU General Assemblies. A membership in the Commission, endorsed by the OC, is officially confirmed at the following General Assembly. Similarly, new IAU members expressing their wish to join the Commission are confirmed at the General Assembly.

A Commission consultant is a person who is not an IAU member but has similar qualifications and has contributed substantially to the Commission. A recommendation by the OC is sufficient to become a consultant. Consultants enjoy all privileges of Commission members except the right to vote.

The Organizing Committee consists of 10 members, including the President, Vice-President and ex-officio (past President). An OC member serves two consecutive three-year terms only, unless elected as Vice-President. In the year of the IAU General Assembly the Commission's President organizes elections for the post of Vice-President followed by elections of new members to the OC. The nomination and ballot rights are limited to the current members of the OC, except the nomination for new members of the Organizing Committee when all Commission members are encouraged to participate. The main principles in composing the OC are a high professional standing and a broad geographical representation. Normally, the current Vice-President is nominated to become the next President of the Commission. The President and Vice-President should not be from the same country.

The main duties of the OC are: communicate with the members of the Commission via the Commission's web-page and newsletters; suggest or support international conferences under the aegis of the IAU; support other meetings of interest to the Commission members; compile a triennial report and hold a business meeting at the IAU General Assembly; maintain active contacts with the constituents of Division I and the Commission's working groups.

The Organizing Committee may suggest to establish (or abolish) a Working Group within the Commission to efficiently achieve a specific goal. This would be subject to approval by the Business Meeting at the General Assembly.

Posted October 3, 2006


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