Piero Benvenuti
Astrophysicist, General Secretary of the IAU

Piero Benvenuti - professor in the Physics and Astronomy department of the University of Padua, ex-president of INAFand ASI board member, is the General Secretary of the world's largest astronomical organisation: the IAU (International Astronomical Union). The appointment was ratified during the final ceremony of the 29th IAU General Assembly, which saw thousands of delegates from all over the world attend the two week conference in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“I feel truly honoured”, commented Benvenuti, “to be the first Italian to hold this position in the Union’s nearly 100 years of history (...) I hope I will perform well in my job, which I have to say is very interesting, but also a big commitment”, he added. “There are a lot of challenges, but it will bring me great pleasure to see astronomy achieve international importance.”

Founded in 1919, the IAU is composed of nearly twelve thousand professional astronomers from 96 different countries. Its main goal is to facilitate collaboration between its members in all their fields of activity: from astronomy to astrophysics, from cosmology to fundamental physics. Within its wide spectrum of competences, it also has the fascinating and delicate task of naming stars. “Watch out, though”, warns Benvenuti, “because the stars we can see have already been named in the past - what is left for us to ‘baptise’ are asteroids: anyone who discovers one today can name it, but the name has to be approved by all the members of the IAU”.