View out window of Sulamerica Convention Centre.
General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union happens every 3 years. Among other issues, the IAU gives objects their official names. The last meeting in 2006 was infamous for demoting Pluto to minor planet status. For the next 2 weeks IAU is meeting in Rio de Janeiro. More photos coming soon!
In this sunny place, there are virtually no talks on "dark energy." That is largely a physicists' supposition, not of much interest to astronomers. Emphasis on "DE" has threatened funding for promising astronomical projects like Constellation-X. However, IAU is devoting 3 whole days to asking:
Are the Fundamental Constants Changing With Space/Time?
Bravo to Kea for reporting in The Imperial Force, a public debate at Imperial College between Oxford's Subir Sarkar abd a Dark Side apprentice. Subir gave several very convincing arguments that DE doesn't exist. At the end of the discussion the audience was informally polled as to whether DE exists. Subir won by an overwhelming margin. Among astronomers and the public, "dark energy" is starting to lose popularity.