Royal Astronomical Society

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The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is a learned society that began as the Astronomical Society of London in 1820 to support astronomical research (mainly carried on at the time by 'gentleman astronomers' rather than professionals). It became the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831 on receiving its Royal Charter from William IV. A Supplemental Charter in 1915 opened up the fellowship to women. It is the UK adhering organisation to the International Astronomical Union and a member of the Science Council, and encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. Meetings are held in Burlington House, in Piccadilly, London and across the United Kingdom (UK). They are involved in the production of astronomical journals and periodicals. The society has over 3000 members, around a third of whom live outside the UK. In addition, those members of the public who have an interest in astronomy and geophysics and wish to support the work of the society may become Friends of the RAS.

One of the major activities of the RAS is publishing refereed journals. It publishes two primary research journals, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society in astronomy and (in association with the Deutsche Geophysikalische Gesellschaft) the Geophysical Journal International in geophysics. It also publishes the magazine A&G which includes reviews and other articles of wide scientific interest in a 'glossy' format. The full list of journals published (both currently and historically) by the RAS, with abbreviations as used for the NASA ADS bibliographic codes is:

Members of the RAS are styled fellows, and may use the post-nominal letters FRAS. Fellowship is open to anyone over the age of 18 who is considered acceptable to the society. As a result of the society's foundation in a time before there were many professional astronomers, no formal qualifications are required. However, around three quarters of fellows are professional astronomers or geophysicists. The society acts as the professional body for astronomers and geophysicists in the UK and fellows may apply for the Science Council's Chartered Scientist status through the society. The fellowship passed 3,000 in 2003.

In 2009 an initiative was launched for those with an interest in astronomy and geophysics but without professional qualifications or specialist knowledge in the subject. Such people may join the Friends of the RAS, which offers popular talks, visits and social events.

The Society organises an extensive programme of meetings:

The biggest RAS meeting each year is the National Astronomy Meeting, a major conference of professional astronomers. It is held over 4-5 days each spring or early summer, usually at a university campus in the United Kingdom. Hundreds of astronomers attend each year.

This page was last edited on 16 April 2018, at 22:29.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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