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Professional organizations

AAS, the American Astronomical Society is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America.

ASP, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is an international non-profit membership organization, whose mission is to increase the understanding and appreciation of astronomy, to advance science and science literacy.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) is the umbrella organization for the world’s national astronomy societies. It organizes scientific meetings, promotes educational activities and is responsible for officially naming celestial bodies and planetary surface features.

The SETI Institute is a scientific and educational non-profit organization which conducts research into the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and Astrobiology.

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is the UK’s organization of professional astronomers, students, and advanced amateurs. It is dedicated to ‘advancing astronomy and geophysics.’

Amateur organizations

The Astronomical League is an umbrella organization composed of over two hundred and forty local amateur astronomical societies from all across the United States.

The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) is an international non-profit organization of variable star observers whose mission is to enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.

The Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) is an international organization devoted to the study and promotion of the Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, meteors, and comets.

The International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) encourages, promotes, and facilitates the observation of occultations and eclipses.


The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) is a science research center in Baltimore. It operates the Hubble Space Telescope and its planned successor, the James Webb Space Telescope. and

The European Southern Observatory (ESO), builds and operates a suite of the world’s most advanced ground-based astronomical telescopes, including ALMA and the E-ELT.

The Subaru Telescope is an 8.2-meter optical-infrared telescope at the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawai’i, operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

The U.S. Naval Observatory (USNO) provides a wide range of astronomical data and products, and serves as the official source of time for the U.S. Department of Defense and a standard of time for the entire United States.

The Anglo-Australian Observatory operates the Anglo-Australian and UK Schmidt telescopes on behalf of the astronomical community of Australia.

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope.

The Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC) at Caltech is dedicated to science operations, data archives, and community support for astronomy and solar system science missions.

Space agencies

NASA is the U.S.’s National Aeronautical and Space Agency. Its vision: To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, CA, has developed tools for space exploration for more than 50 years. Many major planetary missions, including the Curiosity and Mars Exploration Rovers, Cassini, and Juno are operated from JPL.

ESA, the European Space Agency, is Europe’s gateway to space. Its mission is to shape the development of Europe’s space capability and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe and the world. ESA is an international organisation with 20 member states.

JAXA is the Japanese Exploration and Space Agency, founded in 2003.


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