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Standing Order 21: Organisation of RAS National Astronomy Meetings

  • 2007. April 16-20, UCLan; Professor Gordon Bromage
  • 2008. March 31- April 4, QUB; Professor Alan Fitzsimmons

Annexe A. Some lead times have been trimmed in recent years following the wider use of e-mail etc.

Accommodation:
On campus this has ranged from student single rooms to en suite rooms. Split University accommodation sites may require transport; normally attendees are asked to make their own way into the meeting. Local hotel accommodation is preferred by some attendees and discounts can be arranged by the organizers; whilst hotels may be booked by the organizers, responsibility for the payment of bills rests with the attendee. A number of attendees may not require accommodation and only attend during the day.

Lecture facilities required:

  • 1x400 seat theatre for plenary sessions and public lectures. Require screens x2, OHP x 2, whiteboard, slide projector, computer projection, lapel microphone, flip chart, pointers, video system, projectionists/ technicians (perhaps only for plenary sessions). Access from rear during lectures.
  • Session Rooms. An additional 2x 200 seat theatres, assuming three parallel sessions (using the main theatre as well).
Booking of speakers:
Should be done as early as possible; see Annexe A.

Financial Planning/Support:
A budget should be planned at an early stage, and sources of income identified. Grants are normally provided by STFC (in the region of £20k, notionally intended to offset costs of attendance by STFC-sponsored postgraduate students), and by the RAS (also in the region of £10k, towards general costs but subject to a specified budget). Requests for both grants should be made at least a year in advance of the meeting, and in the case of the RAS grant will need to be supported by an outline budget plan. The Royal Society sometimes takes a joint day with the RAS at the meeting (normally Mondays) and has provided some funds for this part of the programme. Every attempt should be made to hold the standard registration fee in the region of £100 or less.

Substantial (ca. 50%) discounts should be offered for students, with a further discount (minimum of 10% or about £10 as seems appropriate) for RAS members. Participants joining the RAS at the NAM can claim this discount off their first contribution. Depending on circumstances, a day rate made be offered for those wishing to attend for a single day; typically, this would be at a level of ca. 40 per cent of the full rate.

Sponsorship/ fund raising.
Some past organizers have managed to get programmes, folders, name tags etc. provided free by local businesses. Travel packs can be obtained through the Tourist Offices. Paid display stands have included Wiley- Blackwell, CUP, and free space is given to STFC and the RAS for their displays. Direct costs might include: University accommodation (University lecture facilities have, in some cases, been provided free of charge) (hotel bills should be paid by the individuals), catering, transport, fax/ computers, e-mail (if hired in), printing, office/ reception staff, speakers travel expenses and accommodation.

Planning visits by RAS Officers
Normally made to discuss proposed scientific programme for interest appeal/level, local arrangements, etc.

Role of University Conference Office/ Professional Conference Organizer:
Assistance may be sought from a University Conference Officer, particularly for registration, reception and daily administrative cover. An alternative is to employ a professional conference organizer, but the financial overheads/implications may be unacceptable.

Numbers attending:
Numbers attending NAMs are increasing; NAM08 (Belfast) attracted 650 registrants. Attendance could normally be expected to be ca. 500 registered. There may also be a significant floating attendance, in that some may register and attend for only part of the meeting, depending on geopgraphical circumstances; some may appear for a day or days not having previously registered.

Registration:
Via the meeting web page. 

Sequence of announcements: See Annexe A.

Registration fees: some past examples of these are available from the Executive Secretary.

Payment: All dues should be collected before allowing anyone to attend the meeting.

Deadlines: A deadline for registration should be established.


THE PROGRAMME
General:
A possible outline programme is at Annexe B. Copies of recent NAM programmes are held by the Executive Secretary for reference.

Plenary sessions are normally held each morning until mid morning or lunchtime, with parallel sessions (2, 3, or 4) thereafter. Other meetings are in the margins (e.g., workshops /seminars at lunchtime.)

A decision should be made early on the themes/ topics /subjects for the meeting; in order to attract a good attendance these may have to be based more widely than perhaps thought.

Organizers are particularly encouraged to ensure that women and younger scientists are represented as session chairs, and as speakers in plenary sessions and elsewhere.

 Community Meeting.
Normally held on Thursday afternoon and organized by staff in Burlington House it includes  a `State of the Union' address by the RAS President, presentation of RAS medals and prizes, a 'named' lecturer followed ( after tea break) by a panel discussion, chaired by the President of the RAS, comprising the CEO and leading representatiives of STFC.
Joint Meetings. 
The NAM is usually organized in conjunction with UK Solar Physics and MIST groups.  An RAS Teachers Day is often organized within the meeting, under the aegis of the RAS Education Committee. The chair of EdComm should be contacted directly.

Programme for younger scientists.
On the initiative of the RAS Membership Committee, recent NAMs have increasingly catered for younger scientists (here meaning postgrads and early postdocs), with considerable success. The following elements, in particular, should be noted:

  • Careers Session. Normally both academic and "real world" topics are covered. Senior STFC personnel should be invited.
  • Younger scientists meeting - Experience suggests that a light lunch or other refreshments are a key factor in attracting good numbers.
  • Poster Competition. The RAS warmly encourages NAM organizers to arrange a competition for students' posters,prizes for which are donated by CUP ( contact the Executive Secretary).
Social Programme
See Annexe B. Few bring partners to NAMs. Welcome buffet/ reception first evening. Small games competitions have been organized between Universities (5-a-side football/ basketball); maps, local eating and drinking recommendations notes in reception packages are useful.

Public Lectures (Free). 
At least one, frequently two, are held in the early evening. The Public are admitted and some local publicity is required.
Conference dinner.
A 'must', normally held on the Wednesday evening. Need top table persons (e.g., Vice Chancellor, President RAS, Meeting organizers, heads of departments). Cost (about £30 per head) is ( usually) an extra charge; need to issue tickets.

RAS Club Dinner.
An RAS Club Dinner is arranged privately during the NAM
Public Relations and the Media:
RAS Press Officers attend NAMs and have very considerable experience of this type of meeting. They should be invited to make a visit at some early stage (Octoberish). Press Room requires multiple seats/tables, separate fax, telephone and e-mail. Arrangements should be made to regularly up- date the web pages during the meeting.


THE MEETING
Daily Routine:

Reception/Information desk. Manned throughout the meeting. Very busy first morning since a number of attendees will probably not register until then and registration will be required throughout the meeting for casual attendees. A nominated person in charge- (University Conference Officer?- assisted by students) ( not meeting organizers- too busy seeing that the programme is running).

Coffee area/ Posters/ Displays. These should be in the same area and ideally close to Reception/Registration (for ease of passing of messages).

Bulletin Boards for not ices, press cuttings and messages for individuals or the meeting in general. Use of a panic board for general announcements.

Daily administrative announcements are best made at the start of each plenary meeting.

Check daily on coffee/tea break timings (they could vary) and confirm numbers for lunches.

Signposting - of theatres, Sessions etc.

Access to e-mail, telephones, printers, photocopiers, drawing materials for OHPs etc. Given recent attendances, the attendees would require access to 25-30 computers with e-mail /Internet and use of fax machines; free of charge. Access to University telephone system may need to be restricted; pay facilities could be brought in.

Catering:

The cost of morning coffee (and biscuits), lunch and afternoon tea (and biscuits) is included in the basic registration fee (others have made lunch tickets an additional and separate charge). Lunch (tickets are normally used for admission) is a simple, serve yourself two course meal (no frills or the price goes up). Conference dinner is separate charge as should be any social programme expenses ( not everyone wants to do everything).

Wash up and visit by next year's organizers is made about two months afterwards when lessons learnt are discussed.





Months Activity
-36 RAS Council discusses possible venues and dates.

RAS Senior Secretary approaches PoC informally

PoC clears meeting with Head of Dept/ University together with dates and availability of facilities. Replies to RAS.

RAS accepts. PoC books facilities and accommodation.

-30 Dates and location published by RAS

-30 to -12 Senior Secretary maintains planning contact with PoC and makes regular progress reports to Council

-10 RAS Officers visit location. See facilities and discuss programmes (scientific content, the inclusion of the RAS Ordinary Meeting and social activities), financial planning(and charges); other detail might include: suitability of lecture theatres; small meeting rooms; PR arrangements; publicity; reception/poster/display/coffee areas; registration procedures.

PoC firms up organizing committee.

-7 First announcement finalised. Major speakers and evening/public lecturers are approached as soon as possible.

-5 First announcement published (covers registration/accommodation);

Delegates invited to propose papers; publish organization of scientific sessions, including Chairs.

PoC sets up part time admin. response cell if necessary

-4 Second announcement

-3 Third announcement. Full time admin. cell set up. Draft of programme and sessions. Full meeting details available on web. Registration starts

-1 Registration closes. Accommodation requirements finalised. Transport booked. Catering requirements confirmed. Programme and sessions contents finalised. Publicity for public lectures.

Abstracts prepared for issue with registration pack.

-0.5 Registration pack prepared

+2 Wash up and visit by next year's organizers.


Monday
p.m.
Registration
evening
Welcome Reception and buffet supper

Tuesday
0830
Registration continues
0900-1030
Opening Address and Plenary Lecture(s)
1030-1100
Coffee/ Posters
1100-1230
Parallel Sessions (Plenary Sessions could go on until 1230 each day)
1230-1400
Lunch
1400-1530
Parallel Sessions
1530-1600
Tea/Posters
1600-1730
Parallel Sessions (normally two or three sessions)
1800
Sports competition
2000
Public Lecture

Wednesday
0900-1030
Plenary Lecture(s)
1030-1100
Coffee/Posters
1100-1230
Parallel Sessions
1230-1400
Lunch
1400-1530
Parallel Sessions. Careers Session.
1530-1600
Tea/Posters
1600-1730
Parallel Sessions
Evening
Conference Dinner (could be Thursday)( or 2nd Public Lecture or Social event.)

Thursday
0900-1030
Plenary Lecture(s)
1030-1100
Coffee/Posters
1100-1230
RAS Ordinary Meeting and Plenary Programme. ( This is not a closed meeting, it is open to all).
1230-1400
Lunch
1400-1530
Parallel Sessions
1530-1600
Tea/Posters
1600-1730
Parallel Sessions
Evening
Social Event (or 2nd Public Lecture or Conference Dinner).

Friday
0900-1030
Plenary Lecture or Parallel Sessions
1030-1100
Coffee/ Posters
1100-1230
Parallel Sessions
1230-1400
Lunch and depart


Date
Venue
1976 April 9
University of Manchester
1977 April 6
University of Edinburgh
1978 April 14
University of York
1979 April 11
University of Durham
1980 April 16
University College, Cardiff
1981 April 16
University of Bath
1982 April 7
Royal Irish Academy, Dublin
1983 April 8
University of Keele
1984 April 12
University of Leicester
1985 April 11
University of Liverpool
1986 April 10
University of Leeds
1987 April 9
University of Manchester
1988 March 30
Lancashire Polytechnic, Preston
1988 March 22
Out-of-Country meeting, held at the Australian Academy of Sciences, Canberra, to celebrate the Australian Bicentennial
1989 March 30
Congress Centre "De Blije Werelt", Lunteren
1990 April 5
University of Glasgow
1991 April 4
Armagh Observatory

top.)
Standing Order 21: Organization of RAS National Astronomy Meetings
  • 2007. April 16-20, UCLan; Professor Gordon Bromage
  • 2008. March 31- April 4, QUB; Professor Alan Fitzsimmons

Annexe A. Some lead times have been trimmed in recent years following the wider use of e-mail etc.

Accommodation:
On campus this has ranged from student single rooms to en suite rooms. Split University accommodation sites may require transport; normally attendees are asked to make their own way into the meeting. Local hotel accommodation is preferred by some attendees and discounts can be arranged by the organizers; whilst hotels may be booked by the organizers, responsibility for the payment of bills rests with the attendee. A number of attendees may not require accommodation and only attend during the day.

Lecture facilities required:

  • 1x400 seat theatre for plenary sessions and public lectures. Require screens x2, OHP x 2, whiteboard, slide projector, computer projection, lapel microphone, flip chart, pointers, video system, projectionists/ technicians (perhaps only for plenary sessions). Access from rear during lectures.
  • Session Rooms. An additional 2x 200 seat theatres, assuming three parallel sessions (using the main theatre as well).
Booking of speakers:
Should be done as early as possible; see Annexe A.

Financial Planning/Support:
A budget should be planned at an early stage, and sources of income identified. Grants are normally provided by STFC (in the region of £20k, notionally intended to offset costs of attendance by STFC-sponsored postgraduate students), and by the RAS (also in the region of £10k, towards general costs but subject to a specified budget). Requests for both grants should be made at least a year in advance of the meeting, and in the case of the RAS grant will need to be supported by an outline budget plan. The Royal Society sometimes takes a joint day with the RAS at the meeting (normally Mondays) and has provided some funds for this part of the programme. Every attempt should be made to hold the standard registration fee in the region of £100 or less.

Substantial (ca. 50%) discounts should be offered for students, with a further discount (minimum of 10% or about £10 as seems appropriate) for RAS members. Participants joining the RAS at the NAM can claim this discount off their first contribution. Depending on circumstances, a day rate made be offered for those wishing to attend for a single day; typically, this would be at a level of ca. 40 per cent of the full rate.

Sponsorship/ fund raising.
Some past organizers have managed to get programmes, folders, name tags etc. provided free by local businesses. Travel packs can be obtained through the Tourist Offices. Paid display stands have included Wiley- Blackwell, CUP, and free space is given to STFC and the RAS for their displays. Direct costs might include: University accommodation (University lecture facilities have, in some cases, been provided free of charge) (hotel bills should be paid by the individuals), catering, transport, fax/ computers, e-mail (if hired in), printing, office/ reception staff, speakers travel expenses and accommodation.

Planning visits by RAS Officers
Normally made to discuss proposed scientific programme for interest appeal/level, local arrangements, etc.

Role of University Conference Office/ Professional Conference Organizer:
Assistance may be sought from a University Conference Officer, particularly for registration, reception and daily administrative cover. An alternative is to employ a professional conference organizer, but the financial overheads/implications may be unacceptable.

Numbers attending:
Numbers attending NAMs are increasing; NAM08 (Belfast) attracted 650 registrants. Attendance could normally be expected to be ca. 500 registered. There may also be a significant floating attendance, in that some may register and attend for only part of the meeting, depending on geopgraphical circumstances; some may appear for a day or days not having previously registered.

Registration:
Via the meeting web page. 

Sequence of announcements: See Annexe A.

Registration fees: some past examples of these are available from the Executive Secretary.

Payment: All dues should be collected before allowing anyone to attend the meeting.

Deadlines: A deadline for registration should be established.


THE PROGRAMME
General:
A possible outline programme is at Annexe B. Copies of recent NAM programmes are held by the Executive Secretary for reference.

Plenary sessions are normally held each morning until mid morning or lunchtime, with parallel sessions (2, 3, or 4) thereafter. Other meetings are in the margins (e.g., workshops /seminars at lunchtime.)

A decision should be made early on the themes/ topics /subjects for the meeting; in order to attract a good attendance these may have to be based more widely than perhaps thought.

Organizers are particularly encouraged to ensure that women and younger scientists are represented as session chairs, and as speakers in plenary sessions and elsewhere.

 Community Meeting.
Normally held on Thursday afternoon and organized by staff in Burlington House it includes  a `State of the Union' address by the RAS President, presentation of RAS medals and prizes, a 'named' lecturer followed ( after tea break) by a panel discussion, chaired by the President of the RAS, comprising the CEO and leading representatiives of STFC.
Joint Meetings. 
The NAM is usually organized in conjunction with UK Solar Physics and MIST groups.  An RAS Teachers Day is often organized within the meeting, under the aegis of the RAS Education Committee. The chair of EdComm should be contacted directly.

Programme for younger scientists.
On the initiative of the RAS Membership Committee, recent NAMs have increasingly catered for younger scientists (here meaning postgrads and early postdocs), with considerable success. The following elements, in particular, should be noted:

  • Careers Session. Normally both academic and "real world" topics are covered. Senior STFC personnel should be invited.
  • Younger scientists meeting - Experience suggests that a light lunch or other refreshments are a key factor in attracting good numbers.
  • Poster Competition. The RAS warmly encourages NAM organizers to arrange a competition for students' posters,prizes for which are donated by CUP ( contact the Executive Secretary).
Social Programme
See Annexe B. Few bring partners to NAMs. Welcome buffet/ reception first evening. Small games competitions have been organized between Universities (5-a-side football/ basketball); maps, local eating and drinking recommendations notes in reception packages are useful.

Public Lectures (Free). 
At least one, frequently two, are held in the early evening. The Public are admitted and some local publicity is required.
Conference dinner.
A 'must', normally held on the Wednesday evening. Need top table persons (e.g., Vice Chancellor, President RAS, Meeting organizers, heads of departments). Cost (about £30 per head) is ( usually) an extra charge; need to issue tickets.

RAS Club Dinner.
An RAS Club Dinner is arranged privately during the NAM
Public Relations and the Media:
RAS Press Officers attend NAMs and have very considerable experience of this type of meeting. They should be invited to make a visit at some early stage (Octoberish). Press Room requires multiple seats/tables, separate fax, telephone and e-mail. Arrangements should be made to regularly up- date the web pages during the meeting.


THE MEETING
Daily Routine:

Reception/Information desk. Manned throughout the meeting. Very busy first morning since a number of attendees will probably not register until then and registration will be required throughout the meeting for casual attendees. A nominated person in charge- (University Conference Officer?- assisted by students) ( not meeting organizers- too busy seeing that the programme is running).

Coffee area/ Posters/ Displays. These should be in the same area and ideally close to Reception/Registration (for ease of passing of messages).

Bulletin Boards for notices, press cuttings and messages for individuals or the meeting in general. Use of a panic board for general announcements.

Daily administrative announcements are best made at the start of each plenary meeting.

Check daily on coffee/tea break timings (they could vary) and confirm numbers for lunches.

Signposting - of theatres, Sessions etc.

Access to e-mail, telephones, printers, photocopiers, drawing materials for OHPs etc. Given recent attendances, the attendees would require access to 25-30 computers with e-mail /Internet and use of fax machines; free of charge. Access to University telephone system may need to be restricted; pay facilities could be brought in.

Catering:

The cost of morning coffee (and biscuits), lunch and afternoon tea (and biscuits) is included in the basic registration fee (others have made lunch tickets an additional and separate charge). Lunch (tickets are normally used for admission) is a simple, serve yourself two course meal (no frills or the price goes up). Conference dinner is separate charge as should be any social programme expenses ( not everyone wants to do everything).

Wash up and visit by next year's organizers is made about two months afterwards when lessons learnt are discussed.





Months Activity
-36 RAS Council discusses possible venues and dates.

RAS Senior Secretary approaches PoC informally

PoC clears meeting with Head of Dept/ University together with dates and availability of facilities. Replies to RAS.

RAS accepts. PoC books facilities and accommodation.

-30 Dates and location published by RAS

-30 to -12 Senior Secretary maintains planning contact with PoC and makes regular progress reports to Council

-10 RAS Officers visit location. See facilities and discuss programmes (scientific content, the inclusion of the RAS Ordinary Meeting and social activities), financial planning(and charges); other detail might include: suitability of lecture theatres; small meeting rooms; PR arrangements; publicity; reception/poster/display/coffee areas; registration procedures.

PoC firms up organizing committee.

-7 First announcement finalised. Major speakers and evening/public lecturers are approached as soon as possible.

-5 First announcement published (covers registration/accommodation);

Delegates invited to propose papers; publish organization of scientific sessions, including Chairs.

PoC sets up part time admin. response cell if necessary

-4 Second announcement

-3 Third announcement. Full time admin. cell set up. Draft of programme and sessions. Full meeting details available on web. Registration starts

-1 Registration closes. Accommodation requirements finalised. Transport booked. Catering requirements confirmed. Programme and sessions contents finalised. Publicity for public lectures.

Abstracts prepared for issue with registration pack.

-0.5 Registration pack prepared

+2 Wash up and visit by next year's organizers.


Monday
p.m.
Registration
evening
Welcome Reception and buffet supper

Tuesday
0830
Registration continues
0900-1030
Opening Address and Plenary Lecture(s)
1030-1100
Coffee/ Posters
1100-1230
Parallel Sessions (Plenary Sessions could go on until 1230 each day)
1230-1400
Lunch
1400-1530
Parallel Sessions
1530-1600
Tea/Posters
1600-1730
Parallel Sessions (normally two or three sessions)
1800
Sports competition
2000
Public Lecture

Wednesday
0900-1030
Plenary Lecture(s)
1030-1100
Coffee/Posters
1100-1230
Parallel Sessions
1230-1400
Lunch
1400-1530
Parallel Sessions. Careers Session.
1530-1600
Tea/Posters
1600-1730
Parallel Sessions
Evening
Conference Dinner (could be Thursday)( or 2nd Public Lecture or Social event.)

Thursday
0900-1030
Plenary Lecture(s)
1030-1100
Coffee/Posters
1100-1230
RAS Ordinary Meeting and Plenary Programme. ( This is not a closed meeting, it is open to all).
1230-1400
Lunch
1400-1530
Parallel Sessions
1530-1600
Tea/Posters
1600-1730
Parallel Sessions
Evening
Social Event (or 2nd Public Lecture or Conference Dinner).

Friday
0900-1030
Plenary Lecture or Parallel Sessions
1030-1100
Coffee/ Posters
1100-1230
Parallel Sessions
1230-1400
Lunch and depart


Date
Venue
1976 April 9
University of Manchester
1977 April 6
University of Edinburgh
1978 April 14
University of York
1979 April 11
University of Durham
1980 April 16
University College, Cardiff
1981 April 16
University of Bath
1982 April 7
Royal Irish Academy, Dublin
1983 April 8
University of Keele
1984 April 12
University of Leicester
1985 April 11
University of Liverpool
1986 April 10
University of Leeds
1987 April 9
University of Manchester
1988 March 30
Lancashire Polytechnic, Preston
1988 March 22
Out-of-Country meeting, held at the Australian Academy of Sciences, Canberra, to celebrate the Australian Bicentennial
1989 March 30
Congress Centre "De Blije Werelt", Lunteren
1990 April 5
University of Glasgow
1991 April 4
Armagh Observatory

top.)