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For the Canadian organisation, see Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

For the New Zealand organisation, see Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand.

For other organisations, see List of astronomical societies.

Members of the public who have an interest in astronomy and geophysics but do not qualify as Fellows may become Friends of the RAS.

The society holds monthly scientific meetings in London, and the annual National Astronomy Meeting at varying locations in the British Isles.

The RAS publishes the scientific journals Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and Geophysical Journal International, along with the trade magazine Astronomy & Geophysics.

The RAS maintains an astronomy research library, engages in public outreach and advises the UK government on astronomy education.

The society recognises achievement in astronomy and geophysics by issuing annual awards and prizes, with its highest award being the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The RAS is the UK adhering organisation to the International Astronomical Union and a member of the UK Science Council.

The society was founded in 1820 as the Astronomical Society of London to support astronomical research.

At that time, most members were 'gentleman astronomers' rather than professionals.

It became the Royal Astronomical Society in 1831 on receiving a Royal Charter from William IV.