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IAU General Assembly Newspapers Are Online

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - 11:37

After six years of planning and two intense weeks of conferencing in Honolulu, the XXIX General Assembly (GA) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is now history. The AAS organized the meeting, and it was one of the biggest and best GAs in the Union’s history. If you didn’t attend, or if you were there but could get to only a fraction of the many parallel sessions that took place, you can read about what you missed in the conference daily newspaper. In addition to the 10 issues that were published during the GA, there’s now an 11th issue (4.2-MB PDF) with articles and images from the closing ceremony held Friday afternoon, 14 August 2015.

Each triennial gathering of the IAU, since GA X in Moscow in 1958, has featured a daily newspaper produced by astronomers and science writers appointed by the host organization. It carries previews by plenary speakers and session chairs, program updates and travel tips from the local organizers, and news reports from each day’s meetings and other activities. The IAU has posted a complete archive of GA newspapers on its website.

Traditionally the GA newspaper has been prepared each day, printed overnight, and distributed each morning. In Honolulu we broke with this tradition: The newspaper was produced and distributed 100% digitally for viewing on attendees’ laptops, tablets, and smartphones — though it is formatted for printing on U.S. standard 8½-by-11-inch paper for the convenience of those who prefer having their newspaper on actual paper.

Newspaper files are PDFs suitable for viewing in Adobe Acrobat Reader or any other PDF-compatible application. We chose PDF as our file format because PDFs can be read on machines of all types running all popular operating systems, including Mac OS, iOS, Windows, Android, and Unix.

Even if we had wanted to print the newspaper in the traditional way, we would not have been able to do so, as no commercial printer on the island of O‘ahu had enough press capacity to print another daily paper in addition to their regularly scheduled publications.

We named the XXIX GA newspaper Kai‘aleleiaka (“kah-EE ah lay-lay-ee AH-kah”), which means “the Milky Way” in Hawaiian. As seen from Hawai‘i in August, the galactic center stands high in the south during prime evening skygazing hours, and later at night you can trace the Milky Way from the southern horizon, through the zenith, to the northern horizon — though not from brightly lit Honolulu!

There are other ways to say “the Milky Way” in Hawaiian, but Kai‘aleleiaka is especially well suited for our astronomical purpose, since it’s the term commonly used by Polynesian voyagers who navigated the Pacific Ocean by the stars. The literal translation of Kai‘aleleiaka is “the fish jumping [or flopping] in shadows,” an apt description of the dark-cloud-studded band of starlight rising in the east, culminating high overhead, and descending in the west.

The staff of Kai‘aleleiaka. Back row (left to right): Iris Nijman, Larry Marschall, Gina
Brissenden, Susanna Kohler, Pamela Gay & managing editor Sarah Reed. Front row:
Design director Leslie Proudfit, Crystal Tinch, editor in chief Rick Fienberg & Inge Heyer.

Richard Tresch Fienberg
AAS Press Officer