Astronomy Australia Limited (AAL) is a not-for-profit company, limited by guarantee, whose members are Australian universities and research organisations with a significant astronomical research capability. AAL works with Australia's National Observatories, astronomers at Australian universities and the Australian Government to advance the goals in the Australian astronomy Decadal Plan 2016-2025, Australia in the era of global astronomy.
Australian based astronomers will have access to the best astronomical research infrastructure.
AAL will achieve its vision by engaging with astronomers in support of the national research infrastructure priorities of the Australian astronomy decadal plan, and advising the Australian Government on the investments necessary to realise those priorities.
Organisational and Governance Structure
AAL is very proud that its membership comprises virtually every institution in Australia with a significant astronomy research program. Each member has a nominated representative, who attends the Annual General Meeting to elect Board Directors and Chair. Member representatives are also consulted throughout the year on key astronomy infrastructure and investment decisions.
AAL has four advisory committees, whose members are appointed to provide the relevant breadth of expertise, and an appropriate mix of gender, seniority, and institutional diversity. AAL committee members are encouraged to engage with their colleagues in order to understand and reflect the views of the wider astronomy community. AAL relies on it's committee members to monitor and assess the progress of all projects and subprojects, evaluate key performance indicators, and advise on opportunities for collaboration and improving project outcomes. The AAL Board makes key decisions about projects and investments based on the committees' recommendations as well as the Board's own expertise.
The 2006 Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy called for:
"A peak body to coordinate Australia's astronomical activities and to represent it in international partnerships ... Such a body may not necessarily have formal authority over all the diverse elements that comprise Australian astronomy, but it can provide an effective governance mechanism ... The ability to seek and administer funds will also be a key element in the effectiveness of such a body."
National Committee for Astronomy of the Australian Academy of Science, November 2005,
New Horizons: A decadal plan for Australian astronomy (2006-2015), p.24
In April 2007 AAL was established, with agreement from the wider astronomical community, as an impartial and independent body, to manage the Australian Government's $45M National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) investment in astronomy infrastructure. AAL now comprises every institution in Australia with a significant astronomy research program, and is an advocate for Australian astronomy infrastructure.
Since its incorporation, AAL has coordinated the Australian astronomy response to, and managed the funding for, a number of national schemes and projects - including the Australian Government's investments in astronomy through the Education Investment Fund (EIF), the Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (CRIS), and a continuation of the NCRIS program. AAL also manages funding for, and represents Australia's interests in, a number of international projects - including a ~5% share in the Giant Magellan Telescope project and access to 8-m class telescopes such as the Gemini and Magellan telescopes. (See Projects for further details on these activities.)
AAL funding and project highlights include:
- 2015 - AAL is awarded $8.6M for ongoing operations of astronomy facilities under a continuation of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS-2015) from 1st July 2015 to 30th June 2016.
- 2013 - AAL is awarded $12.2M for ongoing operations of astronomy facilities under a continuation of the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS-2013) from 1st July 2013 to 30th June 2015.
- 2012 - AAL is awarded $3.47M for ongoing operations of astronomy facilities under the Collaborative Research Infrastructure Scheme (CRIS) over CY 2013 - 2014.
- 2012 - AAL signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese Academy of Sciences on Antarctic astronomy. This is used as a basis for a higher-level Memorandum of Understanding between the Australian Government and the Chinese Academy of Sciences on a broad range of astronomical activities.
- 2012 - AAL submits the Federation of National Astronomy Datasets - Concept Design Study report to the Australian Government. AAL commissioned Intersect Australia Ltd to undertake the design study to articulate AAL's long-term vision to develop a central facility which will allow nation-wide access to, and tools for the manipulation of, national observational and theoretical astronomical datasets.
- 2012 - AAL signs a $1.65M funding agreement with the National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) towards the All Sky Virtual Observatory project.
- 2009 - AAL is awarded $10M for astronomy infrastructure under the Education Investment Fund (EIF).
- 2009 - AAL and ANU sign the Founders Agreement representing Australian involvement in the Giant Magellan Telescope at a 10% level.
- 2008 - AAL developed a roadmap for astronomy at the request of the Australian Government, based on the Decadal Plan for Australian Astronomy 2006 - 2015. This document contributed to the successful transition of the AAO into the then Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research, assuring the AAO's viability for the next 10 years.
- 2007 - AAL is awarded $45M for astronomy infrastructure under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).