The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of universities and other institutions that operates astronomical observatories and telescopes. AURA recognizes its mission statement as "To promote excellence in astronomical research by providing access to state-of-the-art facilities." Founded October 10, 1957 with the encouragement of the National Science Foundation (NSF), AURA was incorporated by a group of seven U.S. universities: California, Chicago, Harvard, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. The first meeting of the Board of Directors took place in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Today, AURA has 39 member institutions in the United States and seven international affiliate members. AURA began as a small organization dedicated to ground-based optical astronomy, managing a range of 1- to 4-meter telescopes and providing community advocacy for optical/infrared astronomy. Over the years, AURA expanded its focus to include Solar Astronomy and the Gemini 8-meter telescopes, going on to partner with other consortia such as WIYN (Wisconsin Indiana Yale & NOAO) and SOAR (Southern Astrophysical Research). In the 1980s, AURA took on the management of the Space Telescope Science Institute, opening up the ultraviolet, optical, and infrared wavelength bands in space with the Hubble Space Telescope. AURA is furthering its aims in infrared space astronomy through the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
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