Professional Activities

Professional Activities – A life between Science and Society

For more than three decades, Claus Madsen has dealt professionally with science communication, international science policy and science diplomacy issues in various intergovernmental research organisations (ESO, CERN and EFDA-JET).

He has also acted as an expert for the European Commission, the United Nations, and national governments. Furthermore, he has coordinated EU-funded science projects and been a steering committee or board member in a number of

science-related undertakings. Claus Madsen has published books and articles on science (astronomy), science communication and science policy and given talks and lectures on these topics around the world.

Professional Career

2016-            Senior Advisor, ATTRACT Project Advisory Board, CERN and Aarhus University/Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

2013-2016    Senior Counsellor for International Relations and Member of the Cabinet of the ESO Director General

2011-2012     Guest Professor at CERN and Chairman of the EIROforum Coordination Group

2010-2011     Head of Office of the EFDA Associate Leader for JET (Culham, UK)

2008-2010   Senior Counsellor for International Relations at ESO

2005-2008   Head of ESO's Public Affairs Department

2000-2005   European Affairs Officer at ESO and ESO representative towards the European Union

1988-2000   Public Relations Officer at ESO and deputy leader of the ESO Information Dept.

1980-1988    International Staff member in the ESO Sky Atlas Laboratory

1980-2016    International Staff Member at ESO

Science Policy

Between 2000-2007 he coordinated the relations between ESO and the EU. He has participated in several EIROforum working groups on aspects of European science policy, served as the first chairman of the EIROforum Thematic Working Group on European Affairs, was rapporteur for the first EURAB Working Group on Research Infrastructures and editor and main author of the EIROforum Science Policy Paper 'Towards a Europe of Knowledge and Innovation'. In connection with ESO's Chairmanship of EIROforum, in 2008/9, he chaired the EIROforum Coordination Group. He chaired this group again in 2011/12 on behalf of CERN. In the past, he has assisted the ESO Director General in a range of policy issues, including negotiations with candidate countries and has represented ESO at the United Nations' Committee for the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, including Action Team 14 which elaborated recommendations for a global response to the potential threats from Near-Earth Objects in Space.

He has served as an Expert for the European Commission and various national and international bodies. In 2010, he published a book on European Science Policy, entitled: ‘Scientific Europe – Policies and Politics of the European Research Area’ (publication list).

Astronomy and Science Communication

In 1980, he joined the ESO Sky Atlas Laboratory. At the laboratory, his work focussed on scientific imaging techniques and wide-field astronomical photography of the Milky Way and the Local Group of Galaxies, including the Magellanic Clouds, for detection of large, low surface luminosity structures. From 1986, he became heavily engaged in science and society issues, organising exhibitions, producing films and giving public lectures on astronomy. He is co-author of the book “Exploring the Southern Sky” (Springer Verlag, 1987).

He was co-ordinator for ESO's activities in the European Science Weeks (1993-2004) and has served on the Steering Committees for the educational programmes of the EIROforum, including the Physics on Stage and Science on Stage Festivals (until 2007). He has been a member of the editorial board of Science in School, the European Science Education Journal. He has published articles and given talks about science communication and –education and has co-edited a book on astronomy communication. He has also participated in experts' panels of the EC and the European Science Foundation in the field of science communication.

Furthermore, he was a member of the Steering Committee for the ESOF 2008 Conference in Barcelona, the largest European conference for Science and Society issues with more than 4,000 participants. In connection with the planning of the International Year of Astronomy in 2009, Claus Madsen participated in working groups under the International Astronomical Union (IAU) and also involving UNESCO. During the early phase of the Universe Awareness programme, Claus Madsen was Co-chairman of the activity, which seeks to bring astronomy to disadvantaged children in a number of countries across the world. Furthermore, he served as an Expert to the Science on Stage Europe Executive Board.  In 2012, he published a book about the history of ESO, entitled “The Jewel on the Mountaintop – The European Southern Observatory through Fifty Years” (Wiley VCH). In 2019, he published the book "The International Astronomical Union: Uniting the Community for 100 Years", co-authored with Johannes Andersen and David Baaneke, (Springer Verlag).

Memberships and Affiliations

Claus Madsen is a member of the International Astronomical Union, the International PCST network, the AlphaGalileo Foundation, honorary member of the European Association for Astronomy Education and honorary member of the Austrian Society for Astronomy and Astrophysics (ÖGA2).

In 2010, Minor Planet 1999 TN19, discovered by Thierry Pauwels and Henri Boffin at the Royal Observatory of Belgium, was named (91604) clausmadsen, listed by the IAU Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Ma., USA. The asteroid moves in an almost circular orbit between Mars and Jupiter, with a perihelion distance of close to 30 AU and an aphelion distance of about 3.1 AU. One orbit around the Sun takes 5.3 years.