Astronomical Heritage Committee


Chair: a Fellow. Members: up to five other Fellows, including a Committee Secretary. An archaeology advisor, normally co-opted. Others may be co-opted as required. Ex Officio - One Secretary

Term of Appointment

Members are normally appointed for three years; these terms are extended, or new appointments made, by Council each July, on the recommendation of the Chair.Continuous membership of the Committee (including terms as its Chair) is normally restricted to a maximum of six years with a minimum break of one year thereafter.

Terms of Reference/Responsibilities

1. To work on behalf of the RAS to help ensure that cultural properties and artefacts significant in the development of astronomy, together with their settings, are duly studied, protected and maintained, both for their greater enjoyment and to the potential benefit of future historical research.(a)

2. To liaise with other national and international bodies concerned with astronomical history and heritage, in so far as they impinge on UK properties and interests, to help achieve this aim.
3. To provide, on behalf of the RAS, active support for the development and implementation of UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage initiative, which promotes “significance in relation to astronomy” as a new criterion for the inclusion of cultural properties on the World Heritage List.
4. To work, in conjunction with the Education Committee and other RAS Committees as appropriate, to enhance public interest, understanding, and support in the field of astronomical heritage.
5. To advise the RAS on light pollution issues concerning heritage sites and to help preserve the spectacle of the dark night sky as a universal heritage of humankind.
(a) The range of properties and objects in question includes ancient sites and monuments with demonstrable links to the sky (such as Stonehenge), instruments of all ages, archives, and historical observatories.


A minimum of two and a maximum of four meetings are held each year, depending upon the level and urgency of business, and timed so as to maximise attendance.