Working groups include the Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN), which maintains the astronomical naming conventions and planetary nomenclature for planetary bodies. The IAU is also responsible for the system of astronomical telegrams which are produced and distributed on its behalf by the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. The Minor Planet Center (MPC), a clearinghouse for all non-planetary or non-moon bodies in the solar system, also operates under the IAU.
The sovereign body of the IAU is its General Assembly, which comprises all members. The Assembly determines IAU policy, approves the Statutes and By-Laws of the Union (and amendments proposed thereto) and elects various committees.
The right to vote on matters brought before the Assembly varies according to the type of business under discussion. The Statutes consider such business to be divided into two categories:
On budget matters (which fall into the second category), votes are weighted according to the relative subscription levels of the national members. A second category vote requires a turnout of at least two thirds of national members in order to be valid. An absolute majority is sufficient for approval in any vote, except for Statute revision which requires a two-thirds majority. An equality of votes is resolved by the vote of the President of the Union.
After a Polish request in 1967, and by controversial decision of the contemporary President of the IAU, an Extraordinary IAU General Assembly was held in February 1973 in Warsaw, Poland, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Nicolaus Copernicus, shortly after the regular 1973 GA was held in Australia.
|XXVIIth IAU General Assembly||2009||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|XXVIIIth IAU General Assembly||2012||Beijing, China|
|XXVIth IAU General Assembly||2006||Prague, Czech Republic|
|XXVth IAU General Assembly||2003||Sydney, Australia|
|XXIVth IAU General Assembly||2000||Manchester, United Kingdom|
|XXIIIrd IAU General Assembly||1997||Kyoto, Japan|
|XXIInd IAU General Assembly||1994||The Hague, Netherlands|
|XXIst IAU General Assembly||1991||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|XXth IAU General Assembly||1988||Baltimore, Maryland, United States|
|XIXth IAU General Assembly||1985||New Delhi, India|
|XVIIIth IAU General Assembly||1982||Patras, Greece|
|XVIIth IAU General Assembly||1979||Montreal, Quebec, Canada|
|XVIth IAU General Assembly||1976||Grenoble, France|
|XVth IAU General Assembly||1973||Sydney, Australia|
|XIVth IAU General Assembly||1970||Brighton, United Kingdom|
|XIIIth IAU General Assembly||1967||Prague, Czechoslovakia|
|XIIth IAU General Assembly||1964||Hamburg, West Germany|
|XIth IAU General Assembly||1961||Berkeley, California, United States|
|Xth IAU General Assembly||1958||Moscow, Soviet Union|
|IXth IAU General Assembly||1955||Dublin, Ireland|
|VIIIth IAU General Assembly||1952||Rome, Italy|
|VIIth IAU General Assembly||1948||Zürich, Switzerland|
|VIth IAU General Assembly||1938||Stockholm, Sweden|
|Vth IAU General Assembly||1935||Paris, France|
|IVth IAU General Assembly||1932||Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States|
|IIIrd IAU General Assembly||1928||Leiden, Netherlands|
|IInd IAU General Assembly||1925||Cambridge, United Kingdom|
|Ist IAU General Assembly||1922||Rome, Italy|
The XXVIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union was held from August 14 to August 25, 2006 in Prague, Czech Republic. On 15 August the Assembly decided to restore to individual members the right to vote on scientific matters, which had been removed from them at the XXVth Assembly in 2003. Among the business before the Assembly was a proposal to adopt a formal definition of planet. During the General Assembly the text of the definition evolved from the initial proposal that would have created 12 known planets in the solar system (adding initially the asteroid Ceres, Pluto's present moon Charon, Eris and would retain Pluto as a planet) to the final definition of a planet resolution that was passed on August 24 by the Assembly, which classified Ceres, Eris and Pluto as dwarf planets, and reduced the number of planets in the solar system to 8. The voting procedure followed IAU's Statutes and Working Rules. The General Assembly lasted 12 days and had 2412 participants, most of them for only part of the duration of the Assembly. 424 of the 9785 individual IAU members attended the Closing Ceremony 24 August 2006. Following the August 24th, 2006, parts of the scientific community did not agree with this ruling, especially the specific wording of the resolution, and criticized IAU's authority to name celestial bodies. In the ensuing public debate, a number of laypersons expressed (at times strong) disagreement with the vote. Another, less vocal, fraction of the scientific community backs the resolution, including the discoverer of the dwarf planet Eris, Mike Brown.
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