History of the IAU

History of the IAU : The Birth and First Half-Century of the International Astronomical Union

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This History has its origin in a suggestion, made in September 1990 by former IAU General Secretary Derek McNally, who felt "that a 75 year history of the Union was needed before the col- lective memory of those who knew the Union before the Second World War vanished. It would then be a preparatory volume to a centennial history in 2019. " Indeed, of those who knew the Union that long ago, few are still with us. Six years ago, at Baltimore on August 2, 1988, listening and reminiscing at the Inaugural Ceremonies of the Union's 20th General Assembly, I realized that it was almost exactly half a century ago that, at the age of 24, I attended the Inaugurations at my "first" Assembly: on August 3, 1938 in Stockholm. Now, in 1994, this is almost 56 years ago, three quarters of the Union's age. Only vague recollections - no better than that -lead me back to this event, just before World War II. And so, this is not a history based on recollection, far from it. Recollection was helpful in that it allowed me, better perhaps than a younger author, to appreciate circumstances under which the letters and reports which form the basis for this History were written. The account is largely based on archival documents, collected from a wide variety of sources.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 296 pages
  • 160 x 240 x 17.02mm | 563g
  • Dordrecht, Netherlands
  • English
  • Softcover reprint of the original 1st ed. 1994
  • XIX, 296 p.
  • 0792329805
  • 9780792329800

Table of contents

Preface. 1. Birth and Consolidation; 1919--1922. 2. Earlier 20th Century Developments; World War I. 3. The IRC and the `Neutral' States; Suspicion and Resentment. 4. 1922--1928: First General Assemblies; IAU becomes Fully International. 5. The Years 1928--1938. 6. The IAU and Political Persecutions in the 1930's. 7. 1938--1948; World War II: Interruption and Recovery. 8. 1948--1958; Flourishing Science and Disturbing Politics. 9. The China Conflict. 10. 1958--1964; Reforms, Berkeley 1961, and Hamburg 1964. 11. 1964--1969; Reforms Continued, the Astronomer's Handbook Prague 1967, and the 50th Anniversary. 12. Financing in the Union; a Review over 75 Years. References. The IAU Historical Archives. Subject Index. Name Index.
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Review quote

`... owe a high debt of gratitude to Blaauw not only for providing this well-documented outline but for giving the IAU archives a high visibility and for taking steps to ensure their preservation.'
Owen Gingerich, Science, Vol. 266, December 1994
`It is, however, a book that should appeal to astronomical and observatory libraries.'
ISIS, 91:4 (2000)
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