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RAS Annual Report 2006

At the AGM of the Society on 11 May the membership received the 2006 Report on past achievements - and  future plans.
While the Society had had a successful year in 2006 in terms of membership, finance and activities an even better one is anticipated in 2007. 

While continuing to cater for its general membership, the over-riding aim is to position the Society such that it provides leadership and representation of its members who are career scientists. Currently it is estimated that some 70 % of astronomers and geophysicists employed in UK universities and research institutions are fellows; ideally this figure should be closer to 100%. This requires that the Society’s organisational systems are as professional and efficient as possible and that more effort is made to attract younger scientists into joining. Equally, the Society needs to achieve greater visibility in the eyes of politicians, the research councils and the media as a campaigning organisation.

Thus, in 2007, the interests of the professional community of astronomers and geophysicists will be promoted by
·        generating research papers and promoting policy proposals to the research councils and government, inter alia, on space policy and astronomy teaching in universities
·        seeking an outcome to the Comprehensive Spending Review which protects and promotes UK astronomy and geophysics by reversing cuts previously made to the budget of PPARC
·        influencing the modus operandi of the new Science & Technology Facilities Council ( STFC) to ensure that science research, including curiosity driven research, validated by the research community, remains its principal driver
·        strengthening the claim of the Society to be the ‘voice of UK astronomy’ by increasing its professional membership
·        generating publicity for the activities and achievements of the Society

At the same time, to ensure the continued flow of young scientists into the professional community the Society will increase its education and public outreach activities acknowledging the power of astronomy to attract students into studying science at school and beyond. This will include

·        assisting secondary schools to locate and use relevant and accurate astronomy teaching resources.
·        co-ordinating activities being organized in connection with the ‘International Year of Astronomy 2009’, a programme of events to raise the profile of astronomy with the, especially younger, general public.

In addition, during 2007, the Society will
-    Continue to improve the performance of the Society’s journals    by completing the move to an on-line submission and tracking system for A&G
-    Monitor ‘open access’ and ‘open repository’ developments and extend an ‘author pay’ option to MNRAS (already in place for GJI).
-       Launch the first books to be published under the agreement with Springer.
-       Complete the up-loading of the Society’s collection of photographic images into the SPL archive.
-       Continue to organize a programme of scientific meetings in Burlington House, of which several will be web cast for the benefit of scientists unable to attend in person
-       Continue to sponsor the National Astronomy Meetings - in Preston (2007), at which, for the first time, astronomers were joined by both the solar physics and MIST communities, Belfast (2008) and Hatfield (2009), the last a joint meeting with the European Astronomy Society.
-       Continue to provide grants, including the appointment of a new Lockyer Fellow, while actively exploring the opportunities for investing the Society’s reserves in large-scale projects, which will materially advance the study of astronomy and geophysics or its public outreach.
-       Continue to recognize outstanding scientific achievement by awarding the Society’s medals and prizes.
-       Continue to develop the services provided by the library by completing the computerization of records.
-       Continue to improve communications with the membership by developing the Society’s web site including on-line polls and, for the first time, enabling electronic voting for elections to Council in May 2007
-       Re-occupy and re-launch the refurbished Burlington House apartments by developing a programme of meetings in the new lecture theatre including those suitable for inclusion in the Burlington House Lecture series
-       Continue to liaise with international organizations including the IAU and UNESCO (the latter in connection with its Astronomy and World Heritage initiative).
-       Review the management of the Society’s investment portfolio to optimize returns within the agreed risk parameters.

The Report can be read on the following PDF

 Trustees Report for 2006.pdf