In light of the unprecedented impact of COVID-19, the IAU is appealing to the astronomy community, its supporters and friends for financial contributions to the IAU Appeal. Donations will help ensure astronomy remains a transformative force for society, both during the crisis and in preparation for life after COVID-19.
Exploring the wonders of the Universe is available to anyone, anywhere in the world. This allows astronomy to play a diverse role within society; from maintaining our shared sense of connectivity to offering a rare combination of skills through STEM learning and research. Since the onset of the pandemic, the IAU has worked tirelessly to ensure members and the general public are given the resources and assistance needed to adapt and utilise the many benefits astronomy brings to education, employability and global citizenship.
For example, in support of those affected by COVID-19, the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) released an extraordinary, fast-tracked call for proposals that use astronomy, in any of its aspects , to help address challenges posed by the pandemic. The IAU Office for Astronomy Outreach (OAO) has been working closely with the national committees on a range of initiatives to adapt outreach and public engagement activities. For example, Telescopes for All are using low-cost digital cameras to allow observations to continue digitally and to be safely shared with the community. While symposia have been cancelled, online meetings across IAU’s Working Groups and Committees have been initiated, allowing for the vital role astronomy plays in scientific research and academia to continue.
Kevin Govender, Director IAU OAD, expands: “Responding effectively to COVID-19 requires a complete rethink of the ways we work, live and communicate with one another. Pooling resources and transferring skills are just two of the many ways astronomers have approached this crisis, which is set to remain with us for many months. Coming together as a community, to apply the tools of astronomy to the challenges faced by society, will make a significant, positive difference for us all as we navigate these uncharted waters.”
Resources, however, are limited; yet there is much still to be done to build stability and resilience during this time, and to ensure adequate preparation for life in a post-COVID-19 Universe. The IAU has launched this appeal to address these needs. Financial contributions can be made through our secure payments system, and we are most grateful for donations of any size. Gifts can also be recurring or one-off donations.
"Astronomy has always driven technological advances for society, pushing the boundaries of scientific discovery. Now, more than ever, that spirit of innovation and passion can contribute towards overcoming the challenges the pandemic presents us with. Your donation to the IAU will not only help us maintain the momentum and tremendous progress astronomy has achieved, but also ensure current and future generations can continue to experience the wonders of our Universe," concludes the IAU President, Ewine van Dishoeck.
 The IAU OAD announced an Extraordinary Call for Proposals on 25 April for grants up to ZAR 20 000/EUR 1000, applications for which closed on 15 May. The grant decisions will be announced by 1 June 2020.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 13 500 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.