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In order to have better engagement between the Council of the RAS and the autonomous groups which exist to promote different aspects of astronomy and geophysics within the UK, not least to help the Society develop policies on future research, a committee comprising a representative of each specialist group plus a number of Council members has been created.

The relationship between the RAS and each group is defined in a Memorandum of Understanding (below). Currently these exist with the following groups:
  • The Astrophysical Chemistry Group is a subject group of the Royal Society of Chemistry  and the RAS. Its aims are the encouragement and promotion of research, collaboration, discussion and education in the area of overlap between chemistry, physics and astronomy. The principal function of the Group is the organisation of regular meetings, lectures, symposia and conferences which may be held in association with others. Activities also include encouraging governmental and academic support for astrophysical chemistry, circulating relevant information and ensuring that the interests of the Group's members are represented within both the RSC and the RAS and also to other bodies. Further information see
  • The UK Planetary Forum was founded in 1996 as a representative body of the planetary science community. Its primary aim is to promote planetary research in the U.K. amongst scientists and towards the public. The Planetary Forum is affiliated to the RAS. Membership of the UK Planetary Forum is open to active U.K. researchers in planetary sciences (PhD and beyond), as well as individuals working in related fields. Membership is free. Currently it has 238 members on its mailing list. Its Committee comprises Hugh Mortimer (RAL, STFC), Julia Cartwright (Manchester) and Alan Wood(Aberystwyth) who run the web site, organize meetings (including an annual autumn meeting) and maintain the mailing list. In addition, there are representatives in most research groups who act as local contacts.  For further information see 
  •  The Astrobiology Society of Britain fosters links between the various and many disciplines that comprise the science of astrobiology. It provides a mechanism for members of the astrobiology community to meet, collaborate, make better known UK astrobiology activities and promote an environment favourable for the development of inter-disciplinary connections between biological and space sciences. It encourages new students and researchers into the field by organizing and co-sponsoring meetings, including a bi-annual conference; publishing the ‘International Journal of Astrobiology’; distributing a Newsletter and advertising job vacancies. For further information see
  •  The UK Solar Physics (UKSP) is a communication forum for solar, solar-terrestrial, and solar system researchers to help them exploit the opportunities from major national and international projects, satellite missions (SOHO, RHESSI, Solar-B, TEREO, SDO, Solar Orbiter) and various ground based facilities. Membership is open to all UK-based professionals (who are also encouraged to join the RAS).  UKSP distributes monthly Newsletters to its 120-180 members, with occasional extra issues for breaking news, containing information on conferences, meetings, workshops, summer schools, jobs, fellowships, book releases, policy announcements etc. It also organizes an annual conference, every other year alongside the RAS NAM, as well as other community meetings including RAS Specialist Discussions. In addition there is an annual Introductory School on STP (including Sun, Heliosphere, Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Thermosphere) for 1st-year PG students and a smaller Advanced School for 2nd-year and other students (including young postdocs) focussed more on solar physics. For further information see 
  • The UK Astroparticle Physics Group is a new group of the Institute of Physics, on which there is formal representation from the RAS, to promote research which will reveal the sites of particle acceleration in our galaxy, and beyond, the nature of dark matter, the physics of relativistic jets, and the origin of the very structure of the universe. It plans to organize annual meetings and co-locate with the IoP High Energy Particle Physics group and the RAS NAM on alternate years. For further information contact Alex Murphy This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • The MIST (Magnetosphere Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial) group is an informal community of c. 250 UK-based scientists who study the ionosphere and magnetosphere and the ionised space in the vicinity of Earth, and solar-terrestrial relations. Regular bi-annual meetings are organised: a one day meeting in London in the autumn, sponsored by the RAS, and a two-day out-of-town meeting each spring (co-located with the RAS NAM on alternate years including 2007). The former Newsletter has been replaced by a Mailing List. Reports of meetings are published in ‘A&G’. For further information see )
  • The BGA (British Geophysical Association) is a Joint Association of the Geological Society of London and the Royal Astronomical Society open to Fellows of either Society with an interest in Geophysics. Its aims are to promote the subject of geophysics, and particularly to strengthen the relationship between geology and geophysics in the UK, by holding meetings and courses and by encouraging the publication of the results of research. There are 5 sub-groups including Education, Environmental and Industrial Geophysics, Geodesy, Geomagnetism & Palaeomagnetism and Seismology & Physics of the Earth’s Interior (for some of which the BGA is responsible for nominating a national correspondent to the relevant international body). The BGA aims to organize three meetings a year, maintains a mailing list and undertakes other activities as required (most recently producing a report on ‘Geophysics Education’). For further information see

Model Memorandum of Understanding
The Royal Astronomical Society (hereafter the Society) and the [group name] (hereafter the Group) acknowledge a common interest in promoting the study of [topic], which is a major interest of the Group and falls within the Society’s objective of promoting astronomy and geophysics. To this end the Society and the Group have agreed the following: 
1.     The Society recognises the Group as a specialist group affiliated to the Society. It shall include the Group in its list of specialist groups, which shall be made publicly available.
2.     The Society shall provide a public link to an approved source of information on Group activities. Similarly the Group shall provide a public link to an approved source of information on Society activities.
3.     The Group may make reasonable use of the Society’s logo but only in connection with joint activities. Similarly the Society may make reasonable use of the Group’s logo but only in connection with joint activities.
4.     The Group shall appoint one of its leading members to represent the Group on the Society’s liaison committee. The appointed person must also be a Fellow of the Society. RAS will reimburse reasonable travels costs for attending formal meetings of the committee.
5.     The Society and the Group shall liaise on policy issues of mutual interest and may establish working groups to work together on specific issues.
6.     The Group shall remain independent of the Society. It shall take no action in the name of the Society without prior approval of the Society. It shall conduct its financial affairs independently of the Society and will not receive any financial support from the Society purely by virtue of its affiliation.
7.     The Group may be affiliated to other learned societies. The Society shall not constrain Group relationships with other societies, nor shall it incur any obligation from those relationships (other by specific approval of the Society).
8.     The Group is warmly encouraged to seek financial support from the Society for specific activities. Such requests shall be directed via the Society’s grants line and shall be considered in parallel with all other requests to that line. Successful requests will be subject to normal requirements of accountability for RAS grants.
9.     The Group may use the Society’s rooms for meetings at a discounted rate subject to reasonable notice and availability of rooms of adequate size. The cost of refreshments shall be borne by the Group.
10.  The Group may submit proposals for the Society’s discussion meetings programme.
11.  The Group is encouraged to submit concise meeting reports for publication in the Society’s Astronomy and Geophysics magazine.
12.  This agreement may be terminated by either party at any time subject to X months written notice.