Hel.A.S. Newsletter 103 - September 2006


                            ELECTRONIC NEWSLETTER
             NUMBER 103                                September 2006

   E-mail: elaset@astro.auth.gr      WWW:  http://www.astro.auth.gr/elaset


   1. The Elections of Hel.A.S.
   2. Report on the XXVIth IAU General Assembly
   3. Upcoming Astronomy meetings in Greece
   4. About this Newsletter


  As it is well known by now the forthcoming General Assembly and
  elections of the Society will take place on Friday September 22nd,
  2006 (the Fall Equinox) at the Section of Astrophysics, Astronomy
  and Mechanics of the University of Athens. This General Assembly
  was originally planned for June 20th, 2006 but it has been shifted
  to this new date due to the prolonged "sit-in" (katalhpsh) by the
  University students. All other details, such as hours/programe/
  invited Hel.A.S. talk by prof. J. Papamastorakis remain as
  previously announced. The items in the agenda remain as in the
  initial announcement which is available in the web page:


  We wish to remind all members that if they wish to nominate/sponsor
  any new members they should do so by ensuring that all applications
  reach the Secretary before the General Assembly of Hel.A.S. More
  information for the Hel.A.S. membership requirements are at:


  Finally, as stated by the Constitution, members need to have payed
  their membership fees in order to be eligible to vote. Those
  uncertain about outstanding dues they should contact the Treasurer
  of Hel.A.S., Prof. Theodossiou as soon as possible.


    The XXVI IAU General Assembly took place in Prague, capital of the
  Czech Republic, from 14th to 25th of August. A number of Greek
  members of the IAU or young scientists were present during this GA
  and some of them presented their work orally or in the poster form.
  In the official level, the IAU has a new President, Mrs. Catherine
  J. Cesarsky (President elect Robert Williams) and a new General
  Secretary, Dr. Karel A. van der Hucht (Assistant General Secretary
  Ian F. Corbett) and six Vise-presidents, Beatriz Barbuy, Cheng Fang,
  Martha P. Haynes, George K. Miley, Giancarlo Setti and Brian Warner.
  During the GA the names of the new Presidents and Vice-presidents of
  the Divisions of the IAU were announced. We have to congratulate
  Dr. Despoina Hatzidemetriou, for been elected Vice-President of her
  Division.  In the Financial Committee an increase of the number of
  Categories was decided, with the categories XI and XII with 60 and
  80 contribution units added at the upper end of the contribution
  range, mainly to permit USA, which has almost the half population of
  the IAU members, to pay more. Greece stays at the Category III with
  4 units of payment and 4 votes for financial matters. The budget for
  2003-2006 was accepted as well as the proposed budget of 2006-2009,
  which includes a 3% annual inflation of the contributions, something
  that irritated many National Representatives.  The Nominating
  Committee accepted the 925 new members proposed by the National
  Astronomical Committees (included around 40 members proposed by the
  Presidents of the Divisions), increasing the total number of the IAU
  members to 9.785.  The new Greek members accepted are: Tom Krimigis,
  Christos Siopis, Iossif Papadakis, Demetrios Goulliermis, Emmanouil
  Xilouris and John Contopoulos.  In the scientific part of the GA
  there were many and interesting sessions and invited
  presentations. The whole GA voted some minor modifications in the
  Statutes and Bye-laws of the Union proposed by the Executive
  Committee.  Long heated discussions were made during the GA for the
  definition of a "planet". Three or four editions of the respective
  Resolution 5A were proposed and withdrawn during the 11 days of the
  Assembly.  I copy the last version of the proposal which came in
  front of the GA and was voted with minor changes included here:

    IAU Resolution: Definition of a Planet in the Solar System

    Contemporary observations are changing our understanding of
  planetary systems, and it is important that our nomenclature for
  objects reflect our current understanding. This applies, in
  particular, to the designation "planets". The word "planet"
  originally described "wanderers" that were known only as mobbing
  lights in the sky. Recent discoveries lead us to create a new
  definition, which we can make using currently available scientific

   Resolution 5A

    The IAU therefore resolves that planets and other bodies, except
  satellites, in our Solar System be defined into three distinct
  categories in the following way:

   (1) A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the
  Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid
  body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly
  round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighborhood around its
   (2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit
  around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to
  overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic
  equilibrium (nearly round) shape, (c) has not cleared the
  neighborhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.
   (3) All other objects, except satellites orbiting the Sun shall
  be referred to collectively as "Small Solar System Bodies".

   1. The eight planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter,
      Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
   2. An IAU process will be established to assign borderline objects
      into either "dwarf planet" or other categories.
   3. "Small Solar System Bodies" currently include most of the Solar
      System asteroids, most Trans- Neptunian Objects (TNO's), comets
      and other small bodies.

  IAU Resolution 6A: Pluto

    The IAU further resolves that Pluto is a "dwarf planet" by the
  above definition and is recognized as the prototype of a new
  category of trans-Neptunian objects.

   These are the resolutions voted positively by the majority of the
  GA. However, a proposition to call the eight planets "classical" and
  another to call the new category of objects referred to Resolution
  6A "plutonians" did not pass.

    Finally it was announced that the 2012 IAU General Assembly (2009
  is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) will be taking place in Beijing, China
  from 12 to 25 August. Thessaloniki has expressed a strong interest
  for that GA (presented by Professor J. Seiradakis), as they had
  Paris and Munich, but the Executive Committee chosen Beijing.

  Paul G. Laskarides
  Chairman of the Greek National Committee for Astronomy
  National Representative to the IAU


  The following meetings will take place in Greece. Please check the
  corresponding web page or contact the organizers by e-mail for more


                           "Solar Orbiter Workshop II"
                Acropolis Divani Hotel, Athens, 16 - 20 October 2006
                       More information can be found at:


                            "Extreme solar Systems"
                    Santorini Island, 24 - 29 June 2007



    This Newsletter was edited by Vassilis Charmandaris and Kanaris
  Tsinganos. It was forwarded to the 250, out of the 268, members of
  Hel.A.S. who have e-mail access.

    The next edition of the Newsletter will be mailed around October 1st
  2006. Please send your announcements (e.g. appointments/departures,
  job openings, research opportunities, awards, conferences in
  Greece) or comments before September 25, 2006. All correspondence
  concerning the Newsletter should be addressed to:


    If you do not wish to receive future issues of this Newsletter or
  the e-mail address to which it was sent is not your preferred one,
  please let us know.



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