• The IAU was founded on 28 July 1919, at the Constitutive Assembly of the International Research Council (now the International Science Council) held in Brussels, Belgium.
  • IAU is now headquartered in Paris, France.
  • IAU creation was prompted by the need for international collaboration in astronomy, especially  after the devastation caused by World War I.
  • The International Astronomical Union is a non-governmental organisation with the objective of advancing astronomy in all aspects, including promoting astronomical research, outreach, education, and development through global cooperation.
International Astronomical Union

IAU’s Major Activities and Initiatives

  • General Assembly: The IAU holds a general assembly every three years in varying parts of the world at which professional astronomers meet to discuss research, new cooperative ventures, and similar matters of professional interest.
  • Astronomical Nomenclature: IAU standardizes the nomenclature of celestial bodies, features, and phenomena. It maintains several working groups dedicated to naming conventions for stars, planets, asteroids, and other objects.
  • Research and Collaboration: It promotes international cooperation in astronomical research and supports initiatives such as observational campaigns, data sharing, and joint projects.
  • Education and Outreach: It is actively involved in promoting astronomy education and public outreach efforts worldwide. It supports educational programs, workshops, and resources for students, teachers, and the general public.


  • As of 1 August 2019, the IAU has a total of 13,701 individual members, who are professional astronomers from 102 countries worldwide; 81.7% of individual members are male, while 18.3% are female.
  • Membership also includes 82 national members, professional astronomical communities representing their country’s affiliation with the IAU. 
  • National members include the:
    • Australian Academy of Science,
    • The Chinese Astronomical Society,
    • The French Academy of Sciences,
    • The Indian National Science Academy,
    • The National Academies (United States),
    • The National Research Foundation of South Africa,
    • The National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Argentina),
    • The Council of German Observatories,
    • The Royal Astronomical Society (United Kingdom),
    • The Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand,
    • The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,
    • The Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Science Council of Japan, among many others.
  • 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 IAU includes member organizations from 82 countries (designated as national members)
The IAU includes member organizations from 82 countries (designated as national members)

IAU Nomenclature  Criteria

  • Rule 4: It emphasizes the international nature of solar system nomenclature and encourages equitable representation of names from diverse ethnic groups, countries, and genders.
  • Rule 9: The IAU adheres to Rule 9, prohibiting names with political, military, or religious connotations, except for historical political figures prior to the 19th century.
  • Rule 11: It emphasizes that names should be unique within the context of celestial nomenclature to prevent confusion.
  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) working group for Planetary System Nomenclature recently sanctioned the name ‘Statio Shiv Shakti’ for the landing site of Chandrayaan-3’s Vikram lander, marking a significant milestone in planetary nomenclature.
    • Prime Minister announced the name ‘Shiv Shakti’ for the Chandrayaan-3 landing site in August, 2023, reflecting the significance of Indian mythology and cultural heritage.
    • It is located at the co-ordinates 69.373°S 32.319°E and lies between the lunar craters Manzinus C and Simpelius N.
    • The name ‘Shiv Shakti’ symbolizes the masculine-feminine duality of nature, embodying strength and resolution, with a profound connection to India’s diverse cultural landscape.
  • The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has named an asteroid, discovered in 2006, after Indian classical singer Pandit Jasraj.
    • Pandit Jasraj is the first Indian musician to receive this honour.
    • Pandit Jasraj is an exponent of Indian classical vocal music. He is the recipient of numerous awards, honours, and titles, including the prestigious Padma Vibhushan and the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award.

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