The International Year of Astronomy coincides with the 27th General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in 2009.
More than two thousand astronomers from around the world are expected to meet and present their latest discoveries in Rio de Janeiro in August. For two busy weeks, August 3rd through 14th, 2009, astronomers will gather at the SulAmérica Convention Center in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to discuss and evaluate the most recent discoveries and observations, to make decisions on fundamental issues ,and also to organise international cooperation. The program includes a variety of cutting-edge science talks, Symposia, joint discussions, and special sessions covering a vast number of subjects ranging from the Legacies of Galileo (Invited Discourse 1) to the most recent results on Planetary Systems as Potential Sites for Life (Special Session 6). There will be six Symposia, 16 Joint Discussions and ten Special Sessions.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation whose 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. This is the first time an IAU General Assembly will be held in Brazil. In the last decade, astronomy in Brazil has experienced a period of major growth and development triggered by significant investments from the Brazilian government. The astronomical community has grown to almost 200 astronomers and they were in 2008 responsible for nearly 2 percent of the total number of scientific papers in the world.