The 2006 IAU General Assembly meeting in Prague contained two weeks of passionate discussions: From black holes, dark energy, Near Earth Asteroids, to the most distant galaxies, detection of extra solar planets, confusion limits in the infrared, the definition of a planet and much more. Every celestial object, every concept, every observation, every prediction got scrutinized, debated and refined by the 2500 participating astronomers. At the Closing Ceremony of the 26 th General Assembly the IAU also chose the four new Officers of the Executive Committee for 2006-2009: Dr. Catherine Cesarsky, ESO Director General, as President , Dr. Robert Williams of the Space Telescope Science Institute as President-Elect, Prof. Karel A. van der Hucht of SRON, Netherlands, as General Secretary, and Dr. Ian Corbett, ESO's Deputy Director General, as Assistant General Secretary.
Prof. Ron Ekers, the outgoing IAU President said: "The past few years have been highly productive for astronomy, with many discoveries giving new insights into our Universe which have excited scientists and general public alike. Catherine Cesarsky is internationally honoured as a scientist, and I am delighted that she has agreed to serve the IAU as President. She has already given invaluable service to the IAU and I am confident that she will provide outstanding leadership as President."
The new President said "It is a great honour and a pleasure for me to be President of the International Astronomical Union for the next three years, especially in view of the proposed International Year of Astronomy in 2009, in which the IAU will play a leading role as a catalyst and a coordinator. I am very much looking forward to working with my colleagues in the IAU to ensure that this is a great success."
The International Year of Astronomy in 2009 offers an ideal opportunity to highlight astronomy's role in enriching all human cultures, to promote astronomy in the developing nations, to inform the public about the latest discoveries, and to emphasize the essential role of astronomy in science education. Individual countries will be undertaking their own initiatives, considering their own national needs, while the IAU will act as coordinator of 2009 International Year of Astronomy on the global scale. The IAU plans to liaise with, and involve, as many as possible of the ongoing outreach and education efforts throughout the world, including those organized by amateur astronomers.