Astronomical Societies

Astronomical Societies


national and international public organizations uniting specialists and amateurs in the field of astronomy with the purpose of coordinating scientific research, the exchange of scientific materials, effective cooperation, and the popularization of astronomical knowledge.

There are national astronomical societies in many countries. Some of these are made up solely of specialists in astronomy—the German Astronomical Society (founded in 1863), the British Royal Astronomical Society (1820), the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (1890), the American Astronomical Society (1897), the Polish Astronomical Society (1923), and several others. The membership of other societies includes both specialists and amateurs. This group includes the All-Union Astronomical and Geodetic Society (VAGO), which in 1932 united several societies including the Moscow (founded in 1908), Gorky (1888), and Leningrad (1890) societies. Among the well-known societies are the Astronomical Society of France (founded in 1887) and ten other astronomical societies in large French cities; the Czechoslovak Astronomical Society (1917), which has the largest network of public observatories; the Polish Amateur Astronomical Society (1922); the British Astronomical Association (1890), the American Astronomical Society of the Pacific (1889), and the Danish Astronomical Society (1916). There are more than 100 astronomical societies in 30 countries. Most astronomical societies publish their own journals as well as other publications. VAGO publishes Astronomicheskii kalendar’; the journal Astronomicheskii vestnik, which carries scientific articles on the solar system; and the popular-scientific journal Zemlia i Vselennaia.

The first attempts to create special international astronomical societies were linked to the solution of particular scientific problems. Thus, the Permanent Commission of the Photographic Map of the Heavens (Carte du Ciel) was established in 1887; the International Union for the Study of the Sun, in 1904. But even before this, the English Royal Astronomical Society, the German Astronomical Society, and several others played the role, to some extent, of international societies. The German Astronomical Society’s membership included many foreign scientists, and half of its yearly conferences were held in other countries.

The International Astronomical Union was created in 1919. Since 1922, it has organized conferences in different countries every three years with almost unbroken regularity. In 1958 its tenth conference was held in the USSR, in Moscow.


Bronshten, V. A. “Stareishee ob”edinenie astronomov i geodezistov.” Priroda, 1961, no. 3.
Dagaev, M. M., and V. V. Radzievskii. “Nauchnaia deiatel’nost’po astronomii Vsesoiuznogo astronomo-geodezicheskogo obshchestva za 50 let Sovetskoi vlasti.” Astronomicheskii vestnik, 1967, no. 4, pp. 193–97.
Rigaux, F. Les observatoires astronomiques et les astronomes. Brussels, 1959, pp. 327–434.
Transactions of the International Astronomical Union, vol. 12C. New York, 1966. Pages 3–9.


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