Privacy Policy

Who We Are

The Royal Astronomical Society (‘RAS’) (‘we’ or ‘us’ or ‘our’) gathers and processes your personal information in accordance with this privacy notice and in compliance with the relevant data protection Regulation and laws. This notice provides you with the necessary information regarding your rights and our obligations and explains how, why and when we process your personal data.

The Royal Astronomical Society’s registered office is at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BQ and we are a registered Charity in England and Wales under number 226545. We are registered on the Information Commissioner's Office Register registration number Z6580709, and act as the data controller. Our designated Privacy Officer can be contacted via the following methods;


Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 4582 or +44 (0)20 7734 3307

Post: Privacy Officer, The Royal Astronomical Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BQ

Information That We Collect

RAS processes your personal information to meet its legal, statutory and contractual obligations and to provide you with our products and services. The RAS will never collect any unnecessary personal data from you and will not process your information in any way, other than as specified in this notice.

The personal data that we may collect from you is: -

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Home Address
  • Business/ Institute Address
  • Personal Email
  • Business Email
  • Home Telephone Number
  • Mobile Telephone Number
  • Special Category Data (i.e. health/medical information, details about religion and gender diversity etc)
  • Bank details (to process direct debit payments for membership, for example)
  • Photos in some instances (for publication in Journals and RAS’s website and archives, for example)
  • Signature (on paper forms such as fellowship application forms)
  • Status/ Qualifications/ Academic history
  • CCTV footage on visiting our premises

We collect information in the below ways: -

  • Email
  • Telephone
  • Post
  • Online form
  • Paper forms
  • Excel and Word documents
  • PDF Documents (Scans)

How the RAS Uses Your Personal Data (Legal Basis for Processing)

RAS takes your privacy very seriously and will never disclose, share or sell your data without your consent; unless required to do so by law. The RAS only retains your data for as long as is necessary and for the purposes specified in this notice. Where you have consented to the RAS providing you with promotional offers and marketing, you are free to withdraw this consent at any time. The purposes and reasons for processing your personal data are detailed below: -

  • The RAS may collect your personal data in the performance of a contract or to provide a service and to ensure that orders are completed and can be sent out to your preferred address
  • The RAS may collect and store your personal data as part of our legal obligation for business accounting and tax purposes
  • The RAS may occasionally send you marketing information or process individuals’ data as a result of individuals being nominated for awards or medals where it is assessed it would be beneficial to you as a member and in our interests. Such information will be non-intrusive and is processed on the grounds of legitimate interests
  • The RAS may collect, store and archive some personal data to perform a task in the public interest or for its official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.

Your Rights

You have the right to access any personal information that RAS processes about you and to request information about:

  • What personal data the RAS holds about you
  • The purposes of the processing
  • The categories of personal data concerned
  • The recipients to whom the personal data has/will be disclosed
  • How long the RAS intends to store your personal data for
  • If the RAS did not collect the data directly from you, information about the source

If you believe that the RAS holds any incomplete or inaccurate data about you, you have the right to ask us to correct and/or complete the information. The RAS will strive to update/correct it as quickly as possible unless there is a valid reason for not doing so, at which point you will be notified.

You also have the right to request erasure of your personal data or to restrict processing (where applicable) in accordance with data protection laws, as well as to object to any direct marketing from us, to exercise your data portability rights and to be informed about any automated decision-making we may use.

If the RAS receives a request from you to exercise any of the above rights, it may ask you to verify your identity before acting on the request; this is to ensure that your data is protected and kept secure.

Sharing and Disclosing Your Personal Information

The RAS will not share or disclose any of your personal information without your consent, other than for the purposes specified in this notice or where there is a legal requirement. RAS uses third-parties so that it can provide you with the various services and products that it offers. All processors acting on our behalf only process your data in accordance with instructions from the RAS and comply fully with this privacy notice, the data protection laws, and any other appropriate confidentiality and security measures.

Safeguarding Measures

The RAS takes your privacy seriously and takes every reasonable measure and precaution to protect and secure your personal data. It works hard to protect you and your information from unauthorised access, alteration, disclosure or destruction and has programs in place to deploy several layers of security measures, including: -

  • Encryption of devices such as but not limited to USB Sticks and Flash Drives.
  • Regular staff training.
  • Data retained for only as long as is necessary.
  • We have taken steps to become compliant with the Government’s “Cyber Essentials” scheme, which helps us avoid cyber-attacks and other IT-related security risks.
  • Antivirus measures on IT hardware.

Transfers Outside the EU (if applicable)

Personal data in the European Union is protected by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but some other countries may not necessarily have the same high standard of protection for your personal data.

The RAS utilises some products or services (or parts of them) that may be hosted/stored in the U.S.A., which means that we may transfer any information which is submitted by you through the website outside the European Economic Area ("EEA") for the purposes below:

Management of its email system

Storage of your data on our database server

Third party service providers (see above under “Sharing and Disclosing Your Personal Information”)


Consequences of Not Providing Your Data

You are not obligated to provide your personal information to RAS. However, as this information is required for us to provide you with our services/deliver your products/legitimate interests, the RAS will not be able to offer some/all of our products or services without it.

Legitimate Interests

As noted in the ‘How We Use Your Personal Data’ section of this notice, the RAS occasionally processes your personal information under the ‘legitimate interests’ legal basis. Where this is the case, the RAS will have carried out a Legitimate Interests Assessment (LIA) to ensure your interests have

been considered and any risk posed to you against our own and that such interests are proportionate and appropriate.

The RAS uses the legitimate interests’ legal basis for processing the type of data listed below and has identified our interests as detailed below;

  • Email and other addresses for communicating with our members for the purposes of administering their membership with RAS.
  • Email addresses and telephone numbers to communicate with individuals who raise an enquiry with the library at RAS. Individuals would reasonably expect RAS to use their data for this purpose as, without it, the library could not communicate with the individual regarding their enquiry or search results.
  • Use of email addresses to send newsletters and marketing material to members and other individuals who have recently interacted with RAS or used RAS’s services on the basis that these categories of individuals would reasonably expect to receive this type of material. Any individual is able to object to receiving such material through the use of the unsubscribe facility contained in each email communication.
  • Sending emails to members of the astronomical and geophysical community to invite such individuals to contribute to material RAS publishes or intends to publish. This is on the basis those individuals are happy to contribute to a community they are associated with and wish to further their own reputation within the field of astronomy and/or geophysics. No individual is obliged to respond and can object to the processing of their data at any time.
  • Processing of personal data on job applications RAS receives from time to time. This is to enable RAS to determine whether a candidate is appropriate for any employment position at RAS and to be able to contact the candidate for interview and offer of employment purposes. Job applications of unsuccessful applicants are stored for a minimal period before destruction or deletion from our records/ systems.
  • Individual names of attendees at conferences organized by RAS or held at RAS’s premises are used to create a list of delegates. This is to enable name badges to be printed in advance, special dietary requirements to be noted and acted upon, enable all attendees to be aware of who is in attendance and also for safety purposes in the event of evacuation of the building.
  • Email addresses and telephone numbers of teachers and professional scientists for the provision of education to schools. This follows an approach to RAS by a teacher or professional scientist who expresses a desire to help schools deliver astronomy and/or geophysics based education.
  • Email addresses, telephone numbers, postal addresses and details relating to vocational career and background for the purposes of processing nominations and references for awards or medals.

How Long We Keep Your Data

RAS only ever retains personal information for as long as is necessary and has strict review and retention policies in place to meet these obligations. For example, we are required under UK tax law to keep your basic personal data (name, address, contact details) for a minimum of 6 years after which time it will be destroyed.

Where you have consented to us using your details for direct marketing, we will keep such data until you notify us otherwise and/or withdraw your consent.

Special Categories Data

Owing to the products or services that it offers, on rare occasions, the RAS will need to process sensitive personal information (known as special category data) from you. For example, we may need to know your dietary requirements for when you attend a function organised by RAS. Where we collect such information, we will only request and process the minimum necessary for the specified purpose and identify a compliant legal basis for doing so. Where we rely on your consent for processing special category data, we will obtain your explicit consent through a signature or other explicit mechanism.

You can modify or withdraw consent at any time, which we will act on immediately unless there is a legitimate or legal reason for not doing so.


Legitimate Interests Example (for membership – Fellows and Friends, for example)

The RAS will occasionally send you communications regarding our products, services or promotions by email, or post that have been identified as being beneficial to our customers/ subscribers and in our interests. For example, we contact you for the purpose of notifying you of the next National Astronomy Meeting (NAM). Such information will be relevant to you as a customer/ subscribers and you will always have the option to unsubscribe at any time. If you do unsubscribe then we may not be able to inform you of such events.

If you would prefer not to receive the above-mentioned marketing and offers, please tick below: -

If you wish to unsubscribe to marketing please email with the heading “Legitimate Interests – Opt Out” and please confirm your name and membership number (if applicable) in the body of the email.

We also engage in online advertising for the same purposes, for example, to promote public lectures hosted by the RAS which we believe you would be interested in attending. We may target ads to you online by using social media platforms such as Facebook. We use the advertising tools offered by these platforms, such as Custom Audiences and pixels, for data recording, data analysis and retargeting.

The ads targeted to you may be based on your previous engagements with the RAS, including interaction with our social media pages and Eventbrite page.

Consent (for non-members, i.e. general public)

If Legitimate Interests is not the appropriate way to contact you, RAS would like to contact you with regarding our products, services or promotions that we provide, but using your consent. If you consent to us using your contact details for these purposes, you have the right to modify or withdraw your consent at any time by using the opt-out/unsubscribe options or by contacting RAS directly.

In these circumstances, we only contact you if you have already given your specific consent. At that point, we will ask you how you want to be contacted i.e. by post, email or telephone.

If, however, you wish to opt-out of marketing, please email with the heading “Consent – Opt Out” and please confirm your name in the body of the email.

Lodging A Complaint

The RAS processes your personal information in compliance with this privacy notice and in accordance with the relevant data protection laws. If, however you wish to raise a complaint regarding the processing of your personal data or are unsatisfied with how we have handled your information, you have the right to lodge a complaint with the supervisory authority.


Privacy Officer
The Royal Astronomical Society
Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BQ Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 4582 or +44 (0)20 7734 3307

Information Commissioners Office Wycliffe House
Water Lane Wilmslow Cheshire SK9 5AF
Tel: 0303 123 1113 (local rate) or 01625 545 745 Email:

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