Organisation and Responsibilities of the RDS


Organisation of the RDS

The Council of German Observatories (Rat deutscher Sternwarten, or RDS for short) is a central body of the German Astronomical Society (AG). The president of the AG usually also acts as the chair of the RDS. The RDS elects an Executive Committee from the representatives of its member institutions. The Executive Committee advises and supports the chair on questions of research policy and research strategy, and can endorse formal statements at short notice. The RDS currently has 43 institutional members.

Chairwoman of the RDS (2023–2026):
Prof. Dr. Stefanie Walch-Gassner, Universität zu Köln

Secretary General:
Steven Hämmerich (Dr. Karl Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)
Email: rds (@)

Executive Committee (2023–2026):

  • Prof. Dr. Stefanie Walch-Gassner (Chair, Universität zu Köln)
  • Prof. Dr. Volker Springel (deputy Chair, Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik in Garching)
  • Prof. Dr. Michael Kramer (Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie Bonn)
  • Prof. Dr. Markus Roth (Universität Jena University und Thüringer Landessternwarte)
  • Dr. Eva Schinnerer (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie Heidelberg)
  • Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz (Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam )
  • Dr. Linda Tacconi (Max-Planck-Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik Garching)
  • Prof. Dr. Jörn Wilms (Dr. Karl Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg)

Terms of operation: RDS-Geschaeftsordnung.pdf (in German) 


Responsibilities of the RDS

Acting as the science policy committee of the AG, the Council of German Observatories represents the common interests of all German astronomical institutions vis-à-vis funding bodies, governments, international organisations and other relevant boards and committees. RDS provides professional consultation to state institutions and other decision-makers. The RDS’ responsibilities are outlined below. 

  • RDS represents the German astronomical community within the International Astronomical Union (IAU). It also reviews applications from German astronomers and astronomy enthusiasts applying for individual IAU membership.
  • The Council of German Observatories nominates representatives for various national and international committees.
  • RDS proposes referees for the “Astrophysics and Astroparticle Physics” review board of the BMBF project funding scheme and for the “Astrophysics and Astronomy” review board of the German Research Foundation (DFG) .
  • The RDS issues research strategy papers and participates in the development of European astronomy in the context of the ASTRONET initiative.