DivF: Planetary Systems and Bioastronomy

Planets Days

Poster advertising the Planets Days workshop at the GA. (ESO/L.Caçada / N.Haghighipour)

The past few years have seen major developments in planetary astronomy: the successful completion of the Cassini mission; the discovery of new planetary systems with the Kepler/K2 missions; and the unprecedented results obtained from the Dawn and New Horizons missions. These missions have revolutionised our understanding of planetary systems and opened new chapters in observational and theoretical research in Solar System and exoplanetary astronomy.

The IAU’s Division F, Planetary Systems and Astrobiology, has been in the middle and centre of all of these activities. Many of the members of its Commissions and Working Groups have been directly involved in these developments and have made major contributions to the progression of the field. Our education and outreach arm, namely Commission F3, Astrobiology has also organised multiple workshops and training schools, where results of new discoveries were presented to graduate students, postdocs and scientists interested in astrobiology.

These advancements formed the motivation for organising the Division F programme for the GA.

This GA marks the second ever Division Days, in which the IAU sets aside the Friday of the first week and the Monday of the second week for activities from its Divisions. During the 2017 meeting of the IAU Executive Committee, my proposal was accepted to convert the Division Days into a two-day mini-conference that would highlight the developments, progress and achievements of each Division. This year, Division F proudly marks the inauguration of this activity by organising a two-day conference during the Division Days, called Planets Days, on recent discoveries and advances in planetary science. The purpose of this conference is to bring together researchers from all fields of planetary astronomy to present their latest findings in the form of oral and poster presentations and to discuss the current state of research in our field.

Planets Days has been well recognised by the community, with more than 110 abstracts submitted, of which 40 were selected for oral presentations. And more than 480 participants have registered to attend.

NADER HAGHIGHIPOUR is the President of IAU Division F and a professor at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawai’i-Moanoa