Notes for Organizers of RAS Specialist Discussion Meetings


The following notes have been prepared to assist organizers of RAS Discussion Meetings. Details of travel support and notes for speakers are at Annexe A and Annexe B, respectively. Meeting organizers are responsible for arranging the scientific content of the meeting, including contacting the speakers and confirming speakers' accommodation requirements with the RAS Executive Assistant and Office Manager

Organisers are invited to advise Executive Officer and Office Manager of any Web pages set up in connection with the meeting, in order that links can be provided from the Society's website.

It would be appreciated if organizers could send a brief report of their meeting to the Executive Director summarizing attendance numbers, including an estimate of attendance by younger members and female members. Any suggestions or comments on administrative or procedural matters are also welcome.

Please see the Code of Conduct for RAS meetings.

1. Admission Fees

Admission fees are levied on non-members attending RAS Specialist Discussion Meetings. Fees will be collected, on the door, by RAS staff. They will be waived for meeting organizers, RAS invited and sponsored speakers, members of the Geological Society ('G' meetings only) and in other  special circumstances (e.g., for members of other societies attending jointly sponsored meetings).

Admission charges are  £15 (£5 for students (with student ID);  note that students can join the RAS for only £5). Monthly A&G (Ordinary) meetings remain free to all.

2. Timings

The normal timetable for Discussion Meetings is as follows:

10:00 - 10:30 Coffee
10:30 - 13:00 Morning Session (a)
13:00 - 14:00 Lunch (b)
14:00 - 15:30 Afternoon Session
15:30 - 16:00 Tea 
16:00 - 17:00 RAS Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meeting (c,d)
a. The start time of the Morning Sessions is normally 10:30, but may be at other times, subject to agreement with the Executive Assistant and Office Manager before you start to plan the meeting. Note that cheap day travel to London by train may delay the arrival of some participants until after 10:30.

b. The RAS cannot provide lunch, but many eateries can be found locally in Piccadilly. Fellows wishing to bring food back to Burlington House are free to eat it in the Fellows Room, and those meeting in the Geological Society may use their Lower Library.

c. The Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meeting of the Society, which follows the Discussion Meetings, is held at 16:00 at the Geological Society's Lecture Theatre. It is essential to end Discussion Meetings promptly at 15:30 to allow the following A&G (Ordinary) meeting to proceed on schedule.
d. Attendance at the Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meetings. Organizers are asked to encourage all participants (whether Fellows of the RAS or not) to attend the free Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meetings, at which topics are presented at a level suitable for a more general audience. Society administrative business is always kept to a minimum, and rarely occupies more than a few minutes at the start of the meeting.

3. Meeting Format

The detailed format of the Discussion Meeting is in the hands of the organizer. Council encourages introductory reviews by well-known speakers in addition to papers on current research. Furthermore, Council particularly encourages organisers to consider the diversity of the speakers in the programme, and also to include talks by young people, including research students. To help with this the RAS will pay the travel expenses (standard rail rate) of speakers who are younger Fellows, if their departments are unable to do so.

Please remember to leave ample time for discussion, since this is a major purpose of the meeting.

4. Venues

The Society's meetings are normally held at the RAS or the Geological Society (which is also located at Burlington House), although we need to confirm this. Meetings will now be hybrid.

Annexe B gives some details of the facilities available as standard. Queries about venues and facilities should be referred to the Executive Assistant and Office Manager.

Note re meetings in the RAS Lecture Theatre: To minimise the possibility of technical mishaps you are STRONGLY advised to up-load your presentation to the RAS lap top which is configured to the specifications of the RAS sound and projection system. If you have to use your own computer please ensure: 

a) that the screen resolution is set to 1024x768

b) the output lead is screwed in securely 

Note that to play sound with your presentation the computer must be connected to the main output lead on the lectern (only). 

Please contact the Executive Assistant and Office Manager - tel 020 7734 3307 for further information or advice

5. The Programme

You should send your full programme listing to the Executive Assistant and Office Manager at least one month before the meeting. It should contain the following details:
Timings and titles of presentations; title, initials, surname, e-mail address and organization of the speakers and nominated chairs for the morning and afternoon sessions; and a short resume (50-75 words) of the meeting objectives, plus a suggested twitter hashtag #RAS...... Abstracts are also encouraged.

The detailed programme is distributed to RAS members and heads of departments at least two weeks before the meeting, and is put on the Society's web page as soon as possible.

6. Publicity

Please note that the RAS Press Office has expertise in preparing and distributing press releases. You may wish to draw his attention, in advance, to items of particular scientific importance and public interest that may arise in connection with your Discussion Meeting.

In addition, you may wish to publicise the meeting through respectively GEOPHYSICS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK and ASTROCOMMUNITY@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

7. Meeting Reports

The Editors of the 'Observatory' magazine are keen to publish reports of the Discussion Meetings, but rely on organizers to provide the necessary input. If you are willing to do this you should contact the appropriate Editors of the 'Observatory' for details concerning the format of the report. They are:

Dr S.J. Fossey (Stephen), University of London Observatory

Tel: +44 (0)208 238 8870

Email: sjf<-at->


Mr R.W. Argyle (Bob),IoA

Tel: +44 (0)1223 337548

Email: rwa<-at->

Alternatively (or additionally), reports may be submitted to the Society's journal 'Astronomy & Geophysics':

Editor, Dr Sue Bowler, Dept of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 6672

The distinction between 'Observatory' and 'A&G' reports is one of emphasis. 'Observatory' reports are usually brief, text-based, factual summaries of meetings (in a form analogous to minutes) while 'A&G' solicits more discursive review articles, which may be built around results presented at the meeting. A&G is published in full colour, and welcomes suitable graphical material.

8. Reception at the Meetings

Members of the RAS staff are normally in attendance at both venues from 0930.

9. Additional contact information.

RAS Geophysics Secretary 

(for future 'G' meetings)

RAS Astronomy Secretary

(for future 'A' meetings)

RAS Senior Secretary 

(for A&G Monthly Ordinary meetings)

RAS Treasurer 


10.   Overseas-based speakers (see below), and up to 2 organisers, are welcome to attend the RAS Dining Club which meets immediately after the reception (please contact Club Treasurer Margaret Penston

11. Finally, should you have any problems over organisation or administration please contact the Executive Director at Burlington House.



A. Travel Expenses
B. Notes for Speakers at Monthly A&G (Ordinary) Meetings of the RAS.



Annex A



1. Domestic travel

The Society does not normally pay travel costs for either organisers or speakers from within the UK. If a particular UK speaker is unable to support their own travel, but the meeting organiser considers them to be important to the success of the meeting, the Society is prepared to consider reimbursement of standard-class, advance-purchase rail costs for the following:

  • Speakers who are research students.
  • Speakers who are very recent PhDs, talking about their thesis work.
  • Organisers of Specialist Discussion Meetings

provided that the recipients are Fellows. (Speakers and organisers in the above categories who are not Fellows of the Society will be reimbursed retroactively if they apply for Fellowship up to a month after the meeting.)

2. Overseas travel

The Society recognises that it may be necessary or desirable to invite an overseas speaker to a Discussion Meeting, if, for example:

  • S/he has an unparalleled contribution to make to a discussion on the topic.
  • S/he may be an attraction to a UK audience.
  • S/he may be able to contribute not only to the Discussion Meeting but also to the Ordinary A&G Meeting.
  • S/he may be able to make topical announcements of wide interest, which the Society can release through its Press Office.

The Society welcomes overseas guests who are able to contribute to the Society's activities in these ways. It will normally contribute to the travel expenses of up to two speakers from mainland Europe, or one from mainland Europe and one from the continental United States, for each Discussion Meeting. Depending on the speaker's journey, the Society will make a contribution to the speaker's expenses, up to the following.

For speakers from mainland Europe:

  • An economy class fare (by air or Euro Star) for travel and return on the same day.

Or, for speakers from mainland Europe for whom this is not practical,

  • An economy class fare (by air or EuroStar) for travel on one day and return on the next.
  • Overnight bed and breakfast accommodation in a central London hotel of the Society's choice.

For Speakers from further afield:

  • An economy class airfare for travel arriving in London on the Thursday and leaving on the following Saturday or Sunday (since a cheap rate Apex-type airfare may require overnighting on Saturday)
  • Overnight bed and breakfast accommodation for up to 3 nights (Thursday, Friday and Saturday) in a central London hotel of the Society's choice.

The following conditions apply to all cases:

  • The stated fare classes are the maximum contribution that may be offered, regardless of how and when the speaker actually travels.
  • Speakers should make their own arrangements for travel.
  • The Society (normally) will book hotel accommodation
  • The Society will reimburse overland travel by public transport (not taxi) to/from rail stations/airports.
  • The bills for Bed and Breakfast will be sent by the hotel to the Society and settled directly. Other expenses, including any accommodation not arranged by the Society or meals other than breakfast, are the responsibility of the Speaker. The Society will pay for single accommodation/breakfast only.

The Society will invite overseas speakers to dine as the Society's guests at the RAS Club dinner at the Athenaeum Club, if they are staying overnight on the Friday evening. Organisers must contact the Executive Assistant and Office Manager at least two weeks in advance of the meeting date if they wish this invitation to be extended.


3. Delegation, prior approval and reservations

A meeting organiser is asked to ascertain first the degree to which the speaker's organisation will contribute to travel expenses, for example by combining the trip to the meeting with other work. The organiser is then delegated authority to negotiate on the Society's behalf with overseas speakers for reimbursement of expenses within the above guidelines. The Society will not honour offers made outside these guidelines without prior approval by the Treasurer, and the consequences of disregarding this lie with the meeting organizer. The meeting organizer must send a plan for speakers' expenses (travel and accommodation) to the Executive Assistant and Office Manager at least three weeks before the meeting. This will enable reservations for good hotels and the RAS Club dinners to be made in good time. Plans received after this deadline will be considered for implementation on a best available basis.

The Executive Assistant and Office Manager will liaise with speakers and ensure that  the A&G meeting organiser and the Press Officer are aware of their attendance. Reimbursement of travel expenses within the agreed limits, usually, will be made by bank transfer against receipts.



Annex B


1. Facilities available at the Society of Antiquaries of London and Geological Society Lecture theatres

a. Facilities. The following facilities are available (RAS Lecture Theatre: Geological Society- GSL):
Digital  projectorYesYes
VHS video (VHS and SCAM)BothBoth
Computer ProjectionYesYes
Laser pointerYesYes
Poster Space25sq ms+20 sq ms
Projectionist providedYesNo

b. When preparing presentations please avoid overcrowding visual displays. A useful working rule is that tabular matter should not contain more than 10 lines and that a line should contain no more than 40 characters. The density of graphical matter should be appropriately chosen.

Note : for meetings in the RAS Lecture Theatre: To minimise the possibility of technical mishaps you are STRONGLY advised to up-load your presentation to the RAS lap top which is configured to the specifications of the RAS sound and projection system.

 If you have to use your own computer please ensure: 

a) that the screen resolution is set to 1024x768

b) the output lead is screwed in securely 

c) the aspect ratio for the projector and screens is set to 4:3, if you require a different aspect ratio you need to use the Barco projector remote control and press the 'aspect ratio' button, for the side screens use the Pioneer remote control and press the aspect button.

Note that to play sound with your presentation the computer must be connected to the main output lead on the lectern (only). 


Please contact the Executive Assistant and Office Manager, tel 020 7734 3307  for further information or advice

c. Posters. Organisers of Discussion Meetings are encouraged to request posters (especially from younger members) for display during lunch and tea. There is ample poster board display area in the coffee room at GSL and in the Library of the RAS.

d. Video Recording. All Monthly A&G (Ordinary) meetings are recorded and uploaded to the RAS website.  Live-streaming is also available.