Astronomy and Astrophysics: A European Journal

Articles could be submitted by citizens of any country in the world. Acceptance would depend only on its scientific quality. There would be no page charges. The journal would be the property of the astronomers, represented by the "Board of Directors", who would be responsible for the scientific content. A publisher would be contracted to print and distribute the journal. He would be responsible for the technical quality of the journal and for its promotion and sales.

Because the "Board of Directors" had no legal status, a number of problems arose. For example, the CNRS was not able to send funds to a private organization outside of France. And who had the authority to sign a contract with the publisher? To circumvent the possibility that a treaty among the sponsoring countries would be necessary, which would involve several years delay, it was thought desirable to involve ESO as one of the sponsors, and let ESO handle the finances and the legal side of the journal. The choice fell on ESO, although the IAU and ESRO (the present ESA) were also considered, both because most of the countries acting as sponsors were also members of ESO and vice-versa, and because ESO was sympathetic to the proposed journal. At the time of the meeting only informal contact had been made with ESO, and although the initial response was positive, the matter was to be formally discussed by the ESO council at its meeting in July.

The question of who should publish the journal was raised. Two offers were already made, one from Reidel Publishing Co., the other from North Holland Publishing Co. That from Reidel was 10-15 % cheaper, but after much discussion it was decided not to further consider Reidel as long as he continued to publish Astrophysics and Space Science. Furthermore his ability to publish the journal for a longer period at the price quoted was questioned.

It was agreed that the following "countries" would support the journal financially and would be represented on the Board of Directors: France (with 4 representatives), Netherlands (2), Scandinavia (2), Belgium (1) and ESO (1). Concerning Germany, the situation was less clear. Biermann stated that, although the ZfAp would continue for the time being, this did not preclude German participation as a sponsor of A &A. He further indicated that many German astronomers, especially of the younger generation, favored an international journal. All present felt that it would be important to have German participation right from the beginning. Steinberg and I (as editors of the two largest journals which would cease publication) were asked to write a letter to the Council of West German Observatories requesting it to sponsor the new journal. Germany would be free to decide on the number of representative it would have on the Board of Directors.

It was considered desirable to begin publication of the first issue of A &A on January 1969. The copy must be in the hands of the publisher by 30 September 1968 at the latest. It must be refereed before that date. The future timetable: agreement by the (astronomical) councils who act as sponsors and financiers should be obtained by the end of June. The Board of Directors should meet directly after the ESO meeting to appoint the Editor(s), decide on the publisher and consider the appointment of an Editorial Board. The journal was beginning to take shape, and quickly.