The Establishment of Hel.A.S.

The first serious attempt to establish a Hellenic astronomical society was undertaken in 1982 during the XVIII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union, which took place in Patras, Greece. There, during several meetings, a dozen of Greek astronomers gathered in order to put the foundations of the long sought Society. A number of people worked diligently throughout the end of the 1980’s, organizing various meetings in order to identify the common grounds and proposing drafts for the establishment of an astronomical society.

In November 1991, when P. Laskarides issued the first announcement of the 1st Hellenic Astronomical Conference, the idea of the establishment of an astronomical society, seemed ripe again. J.H. Seiradakis, on sabbatical leave in Bonn, drafted a first draft of the Statutes. This was restructured and completed during several meetings with D. Sinachopoulos, either in Bonn or in Brussels. Later S. Avgoloupis, B. Barbanis, S. Persides, N. Spyrou and H. Varvoglis commented on it and a semi-final version was sent to the major astronomical establishments in Greece for further comments. A final version was presented to the participants of the 1st Hellenic Astronomical Conference, which was held in Athens in September 1992.

During the Athens Conference, several astronomers became founding members of the Hellenic Astronomical Society. A few more founding members signed the proposed Statutes during the next few weeks bringing the total number of founding members to sixty six (66). The paperwork for the recognition of the Society was undertaken by a lawyer in Athens and on May 25 1993 the Hellenic Astronomical Society, Hel.A.S. (Ελληνική Αστρονομική Εταιρεία, ΕΛ.ΑΣ.ΕΤ.) was recognized by the Court of Justice in Athens.

The appointed Council of Hel.A.S. was formally informed of the decision of the Court of Justice in June 1993. The Council consisted of B. Barbanis as President, J. Ventura as Vice-President, P. Laskarides as Secretary, K. Makris as Treasurer and C. Goudis , K. Poulakos and V. Tsikoudi as Members. The Council initiated the procedure for the first elections of Hel.A.S. By January 1994 another 74 colleagues had applied to become members, bringing the total number to 140. In the elections, which took place on June 2nd 1994, participated 83% of the founding members.

The Hellenic Astronomical Society has been active ever since. It has been recognized as an Affiliated Member of the European Astronomical Society, it has established links with other international astronomical societies. It is closely collaborating with the Greek National Committee for Astronomy and it has been organizing a major astronomical conference in Greece every two years.

The above account describes briefly the events concerning the establishment of Hel.A.S. If you happen to know of any further details that may shed light to the early history of the work and efforts that eventually led to the establishment of the Hellenic Astronomical Society, please send a message to John H. Seiradakis.

J. H. Seiradakis

March 2007, Thessaloniki, Greece


P.S. Some details on the creation of the present webpages is available here.

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