The day the Royal Astronomical Society was established

January 2016

Astronomical societies are national and international associations whose members include both professional astronomers and amateur astronomers. Their aim is coordinating research, exchanging information and research contacts as well as raising awareness of astronomical knowledge. National astronomical societies exist in many countries, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in England being the oldest. RAS began as the Astronomical Society of London in 1820 to support astronomical research (mainly carried on at the time by “gentleman astronomers” rather than professionals). Sir John Frederick William Herschel and other prominent astronomers were behind the creation of the society. It is the UK adhering organisation to the International Astronomical Union and a member of the Science Council, and encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. Meetings are held in London and across the United Kingdom.