EDP Sciences

Astronomy and Astrophysics: A European Journal

Contrary to Kopal's insight, the European astronomers were serious. At the beginning of November 1967 the Dutch astronomers met to discuss the situation. They concluded that it would be desirable to form a new journal sponsored by France, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia. They added the stipulation that the European Southern Observatory be asked to sponsor the journal as well. They agreed to give up the BAN when the new journal was formed. I was asked to inform the French of this, which I did through contact with Steinberg. He had already prepared a note on the subject, in which he came to the conclusion that a merger of European journals was not only desirable but necessary as well. With this note as basis, Steinberg and Denisse called a meeting of the French astronomers. The meeting, which took place in December 1967, was attended by all astronomers with a Ph.D. level or higher. The result was that 75 % of those present agreed that a new journal was desirable. Steinberg and I then prepared a proposal which can best be described as the "ground rules" for a new journal. This proposal was then sent to Reiz, the chairman of the Scandinavian group for their opinion. Steinberg contacted the Belgians. In a less formal way several German and Italian astronomers were also informed.

At this point it was necessary to discuss the matter in a more formal manner. In a letter dated 27 March 1968 I invited a number astronomers to a meeting on 8 April 1968 at the Observatory in Leiden. The purpose of the meeting (as stated in the letter) was fourfold.  

  • To discuss the general principles under which the new journal would operate,
  • To discuss the financial implications of the new journal,
  • To begin a discussion of the detailed operation of the new journal,
  • To agree on a date for beginning the new journal.

Those who attended the meeting, aside from Steinberg and myself, were: Reiz(Scan.), van Bueren(NL), Ledoux (Belg.), Schatzman(F), Mazière(F), Oort(NL), and Biermann(G). Velghe(Belg.), Swings(Belg.) and Funke(Scan.) wrote that they were sympathetic with the plans but were unable to come. In addition Funke wrote that the Swedish Research Council was interested in sponsoring the journal. ESO representatives Heckmann and Blaauw were not in Europe, but indicated that ESO would like to co-sponsor the journal. The minutes of the meeting were taken by Mrs. Ondei, Oort's secretary.

All persons present saw the desirability of merging the existing journals to form, on the widest possible European basis, a new journal. It was proposed that the new journal be called 'ASTRONOMY and ASTROPHYSICS, A European Journal'. Steinberg stated that the French astronomers had agreed to stop publication of the Ann.d'Ap when the new journal begins publication, but the CNRS was yet to approve this step. Oort stated that the Dutch were in principle agreed to stop publication of the BAN.

The main policy making body of the new journal was to be the "Board of Directors", consisting of senior astronomers or government representatives of the sponsoring countries. It would normally meet once a year to discuss the yearly report of the Editor and the state of the journal. It would also elect the Editor(s) and approve the appointments to the Editorial Board. Each country was responsible for the appointment of its member(s). New sponsoring countries would mean an expansion of the "Board of Directors". Most of those present felt a single editor, appointed for 5 years, was optimal. However in the initial stages of the journal two editors, of different nationality, were proposed, which was to ensure that no individual country would dominate the journal.