American Astronomical Society

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American Astronomical Society
Formation 1899
Type NGO
Purpose To enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the Universe.
Headquarters Washington, DC
Megan Urry [1]
Vice Pres.
Paula Szkody [1]
Vice Pres.
Chryssa Kouveliotou[1]
Vice Pres.
Jack O. Burns[1]
Formerly called
Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America

The American Astronomical Society (AAS, sometimes spoken as "double-A-S") is an American society of professional astronomers and other interested individuals, headquartered in Washington, DC. The primary objective of the AAS is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science, while the secondary purpose includes enhancing astronomy education and providing a political voice for its members through lobbying and grassroots activities.


The society was founded in 1899 through the efforts of George Ellery Hale. The constitution of the group was written by Hale, George Comstock, Edward Morley, Simon Newcomb and Edward Charles Pickering. These men plus four others were the first Executive Council of the society, Newcomb was the first president. The initial membership was 114. The AAS name of the society was not finally decided until 1915, previously it was the "Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America". One proposed name that preceded this interim name was "American Astrophysical Society".[2]

The AAS today has over 7,000 members and six divisions - the Division for Planetary Sciences (1968), the Division on Dynamical Astronomy (1969), the High Energy Astrophysics Division (1969), the Solar Physics Division (1969), the Historical Astronomy Division (1980) and the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (2012). The membership includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy.


Because the field of astronomy is diverse, several divisions have been formed each of which promotes and enables a different branch of astronomy or astronomy-related science as well as working within the overall charter of the AAS. Many of the divisions hold separate meetings in addition to meeting with the main group. The divisions of the AAS, together with their main research interests, are:

  • The Historical Astronomy Division (HAD) supports topics relevant to the history of astronomy as a field, and research using historical astronomical records to solve current problems in astronomy.
  • In 2012, a new division was formed: the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) to advance humanity's understanding of the Universe through the promotion of fundamental theoretical and experimental research into the underlying processes that drive the Universe.



Similar prizes are awarded by AAS divisions. These include:

The AAS also manages a Small Research Grant Award program and an International Travel Grant program, which any astronomer working in the US may apply to for funding opportunities.

Past presidents[edit]

The following past and present members served as presidents of the society during the listed periods:[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Current Council, American Astronomical Society, 2014. 
  2. ^ Brant L. Sponberg and David H. DeVorkin. "How did the AAS get its name?". History of the Society. Retrieved 21 August 2005. 
  3. ^ Past Officers and Councilors, American Astronomical Society, retrieved 2013-03-16. 

External links[edit]