IAU XXIX General Assembly Press Information

For the first two weeks of August, Hawaii will be the center of the universe when more than 3,500 astronomers from at least 75 countries gather in Honolulu for the XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Expected to be the largest professional astronomy conference since the Big Bang, the 3-14 August 2015 meeting will feature thousands of scientific presentations, numerous policy discussions, and several exciting media events. The IAU offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and public information officers (PIOs); see details below.

At the General Assembly, held every three years, the world’s astronomers come together to advance the astronomical sciences through international collaboration. Participants at the General Assembly in Honolulu will address key topics in contemporary astronomy and assess the latest scientific progress in a number of specialized areas. With six symposia extending over several days, 22 multi-session focus meetings, nine IAU Division meetings, dozens of IAU Commission meetings, and the first-ever daily general poster sessions, the XXIX General Assembly’s scientific program will be the broadest in the union’s history.

This will be the first General Assembly to be held in Hawaii and the first in the United States since 1988. The American Astronomical Society (AAS) is the national host organization, with vital local support from the University of Hawaii at Manoa Institute of Astronomy as well as observatories and other astronomy-related institutions throughout the Hawaiian islands.

Maunakea, on the Big Island, is well known today as the site of most of the northern hemisphere’s 8- to 10-meter telescopes. But the history of astronomy in Hawaii goes back to ancient times, when Polynesian sailors navigated among the widely separated islands of the Pacific Ocean primarily using their deep knowledge of the starry sky. The landmark Diamond Head volcano on Oahu, visible from Honolulu’s famed Waikiki Beach, was the site of an important 1910 expedition to photograph Halley’s Comet. Grote Reber did some of his early work in radio astronomy on Maui, which now hosts a major solar observatory atop Haleakala. And Maunakea itself, first recognized as a superior astronomical site by Gerard Kuiper half a century ago, will soon be home to the Thirty Meter Telescope, one of the next-generation optical-infrared extremely large telescopes slated to usher in the next great age of ground-based astronomy. Representatives of the media in Hawaii for the General Assembly will have an opportunity to visit Maunakea before science sessions begin; see details below.


Full Name: XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union

Date: 3-14 August 2015

Venue address:

Honolulu Convention Center
1801 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, HIi 96815 USA

Purpose: In August 2015, astronomers from all around the globe will gather for two weeks at the IAU General Assembly at the Honolulu Convention Center, Oahu, Hawaii, to discuss and evaluate their most recent discoveries and observations, to make decisions on fundamental issues facing astronomy, and to organize international cooperation. At the same time, General Assembly participants will have an opportunity to experience the wide range of astronomical activities now taking place in the USA and which include new projects, facilities, and institutes.

Participants: The IAU XXIX General Assembly is expected to bring together an expected number of more than 3,500 astronomers from all over the world to Honolulu, Hawaii, USA, to present and discuss the latest scientific breakthroughs and discoveries in the rapidly evolving scientific area of astronomy.

National Host: American Astronomical Society, Washington, DC

Visa Info: For information on visas for travel to the U.S., see http://astronomy2015.org/visa. To receive an invitation letter for your visa application or other purposes, please send an email to registration@astronomy2015.org.

Travel and Lodging Info: The IAU has secured a block of rooms for our meeting attendees. Reservations must be made by 1 July 2015 to ensure the group rate. Hotel reservations can be made at http://astronomy2015.org/travel_lodging

Press Registration

Please complete the pre-registration form at http://www.iau.org/public/press_room/ga_xxix_registration/. Once you have been approved by the IAU Press Officer, you will receive the official registration form to complete.

Press Briefings

Monday, 3 August, 10:00 — Press briefing: General information about the Opening Ceremony.

  • Norio Kaifu: President of IAU
  • Thierry Montmerle: General Secretary of IAU
  • Silvia Torres-Peimbert: President-Elect of IAU
  • More participants TBA

Friday, 7 August, 10:00 - Press briefing: The Most Precise Analysis of the Sunspot Number Series and Its Impact on Climate Research

Tuesday 11 August 10:00 Press Briefing: Light pollution discovery from ISS

Tuesday, 11 August, 19:30 - Press briefing: Exoworld Press Conference

Thursday 13 August 10:00 Press Briefing: IAU Signs Agreements for Five New Coordinating Offices of Astronomy for Development

Friday, 14 August, 10:00 — Press briefing: Concluding the General Assembly

  • Silvia Torres-Peimbert: President of IAU
  • Piero Benvenuti: General Secretary of IAU
  • TBD: President-Elect of IAU
  • More participants TBA

Press Releases

Invited Discourses

The five Invited Discourses are overview talks given by scientists highly eminent in their fields.

  1. Tuesday, 4 August: “Rosetta and the Formation of the Solar System” by Willy Benz
  2. Thursday, 6 August: "Exploring the Young Universe" by Yoshiaki Tanaguchi
  3. Tuesday, 11 August: "Kavli Prize Lecture — Exoplanets: Thousands of Worlds to Explore" by Lisa Kaltenegger
  4. Thursday, 13 August: "Laniakea, the Supercluster Which Is Our Home" by Brent Tully
  5. Thursday, 13 August: "Spectroscopy of H3+: A Unique Probe of Molecular Gas in the Milky Way and Beyond" by Tom Geballe

Public Events

  • Stargazing Party — 3 August
  • Stargazing Party — 13 August
  • Public Talk: “He Lani Ko Luna, A Sky Above" by Kālepa Babayan, Imiloa Astronomy Center, Polynesian Voyaging Society — 4 August
  • Public Talk: “The Development of Modern Astronomy in Hawaii" by Dr. Gunther Hasinger, Director, IfA — 11 August
  • Public Talk: “The Black Hole in the Galactic Center” by Dr. Andrea Ghez, UCLA — 11 August
  • School Visits to the General Assembly — 5 August & 12 August
  • Astronomers in the Schools Program

Other Events

Wednesday, 5 August — Traditional Banquet

Wednesday, 12 August — Networking Reception

Monday, 3 August, 16:00–18:00 — General Assembly Opening Ceremony

Wednesday, 12 August, 19:30 — IAU Press Dinner (no host, split bill)

Friday, 14 August, 16:15–18:30 — Closing Ceremony

Press Rooms & Facilities

The Press Office for the IAU General Assembly will be responsible for the contact with the press and the media, providing information and material related to the meeting and to astronomy in general.

The IAU will operate a Press Office (room 304A/B) on all weekdays from 9:00 to 18:00, a Press Conference Room (room 306A/B), and a Press Interview Room (Room 303B). It will have hard-wired and wireless Internet hubs for the convenience of reporters who are filing to a deadline. The Interview Room is available to the media for one-on-one interviews and is reserved and scheduled as requests are received. The Press Office will also have a fixed-net telephone, printer, access to copying machine, etc. We encourage PIOs and scientists to provide hard copies of press releases, background brochures, visuals, etc. The IAU Press Office will update a wall with newspaper clippings.

The Press Office will be closed during the weekend 8-9 August.

More Information

The IAU is the international astronomical organization that brings together more than 10,000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognized authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.


Press Office Fixed-line phone (Mon-Fri 8:30-18:00): +1-808-792-6630

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621
Email: lars@eso.org

Raquel Yumi Shida
IAU Deputy Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 177
Cell: +49 151 5066 2673
Email: rshida@eso.org

Local Press Contacts

Andrea Lum
Bennet Group 
Cell: +1 808 286 9569
Email: andrea@bennetgroup.com