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Crystal M. Tinch
Communications Manager
American Astronomical Society (AAS)
2013 AAS Annual Report

The American Astronomical Society’s annual report for calendar year 2013 is now available for downloading as a 2.2-megabyte PDF file. To read and/or print it, you'll need a PDF reader, such as the free Adobe Reader, which is available for all common computer platforms.

As directed by the Publications Board, the annual report focuses on summarizing the activities of the Society instead of presenting a comprehensive reporting of them all. We hope this will make the report more readable and more widely read.

2013 annual report contents:

  • President’s Message
  • Executive Officer’s Message
  • Financial Report
  • Membership
  • Charitable Donors
  • Publishing
  • Public Policy
  • AAS & Division Meetings
  • Divisions, Committees & Working Groups
  • Education & Outreach
  • Press & Media
  • Prize Winners
  • Member Deaths

The annual report for a given year is not available until the second half of the following year, because we need Council approval of the audit report before we can publish our financial data, and each year's audit report isn't available for the Council's consideration until the next summer meeting.

If you have questions or comments about the AAS annual report, please direct them to the Executive Office.

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer & Director of Communications
American Astronomical Society

If you're a regular visitor to the AAS website — and if you're not, you should be! — you've undoubtedly noticed some changes on our homepage. More useful information appears higher up on the screen, whether or not you've signed in with your AAS username and password. We still have a big, attractive astronomical image at the top, but it's now mostly in the background so as not to displace other content. You can bring the image forward and see its caption by clicking on the magnifying-glass icon that appears in its lower-right corner. Once you've done that, it'll be obvious how to return the image to the background.

We've upgraded our online calendar too. It now includes both upcoming events and upcoming deadlines. We've also refined the layout to improve readability and provided more convenient options for searching and browsing.

Another improvement makes it easier to submit content for publication on our website and distribution via our email newsletter. As before, when you sign in to the site with your AAS username and password, a new button appears on the right side of the main menu: POST. Submitting deadlines and events for our online calendar has always been easy, and now it's similarly easy to submit news items and other types of articles, because we've dramatically simplified the form by which you compose such content.

We've correspondingly simplified the step-by-step instructions for posting, which no longer resemble the instructions for use of the zero-gravity toilet in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

More upgrades and improvements are in the works as we strive to improve our service to AAS members and the broader astronomical community. If you have comments, suggestions, and/or questions about our website, we encourage you to email them to us.

Crystal M. Tinch
Communications Manager
American Astronomical Society (AAS)

Videos from the 224th AAS meeting held in Boston, MA, in June 2014 are now online for viewing by AAS members. You must sign in using your AAS username and password to watch the videos; if you're not already signed in, click the "Sign In" link in the upper-right corner of the page.

There are two sets of videos: slidecasts of plenary sessions, and recordings of press-conference webcasts. The slidecasts include presentation slides accompanied by audio of the lectures. Some invited talks and prize lectures aren't included, for one or more of the following reasons: (1) the speaker didn't give us permission to record and post his or her presentation, (2) the quality of the recording was substandard, or (3) a technical glitch prevented the successful recording of the audio and/or presentation slides.

Meeting videos are available exclusively to AAS members for six months following the meeting, after which they're open to viewing by nonmembers and the public. Press-conference videos are available to the public within days of being recorded via our Archived AAS Press Conference Webcasts page.

Joshua H. Shiode
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
American Astronomical Society

Though just last week it seemed that the Senate was set to work through its versions of the appropriations bills for NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and a host of other agencies, the process broke down last Thursday (19 June 2014) amid disagreement over the process for approving amendments. At this point, there's no indication of how or when appropriations bills will come back up for consideration on the Senate floor (though theories abound).

The prospects are now even higher that the Congress will have to eventually pass a Continuing Resolution (CR), setting spending for discretionary programs on autopilot for at least some fraction of FY 2015. If enacted before 1 October 2014, a CR would avert a government shutdown like the one at the end of FY 2013, but while agencies' doors would stay open, this option leads to considerable funding uncertainty and wipes away the potential increases for NASA and NSF approved by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. 

To be clear, though there is at least one controversial NASA provision in the Senate bill, it is not responsible for derailing the Senate process. The reasons behind the impasse are not entirely clear, but much of the discussion has centered around potential amendments that would block proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations regarding carbon pollution. 

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer & Director of Communications
American Astronomical Society

This item comes from Patrick Mulvey, Statistical Research Center, American Institute of Physics (AIP):

Interest in astronomy degrees in the US remains strong, with astronomy enrollments at or near all-time highs for academic year 2012-13. These increasing enrollments have resulted in record numbers of students receiving PhDs and bachelor's degrees in astronomy.

A new PDF report from AIP's Statistical Research Center (SRC), "Focus on Astronomy Enrollments and Degrees," provides astronomy enrollment and degree data at US astronomy degree-granting departments. It includes the latest astronomy enrollments and astronomy degrees at the bachelor's, master's, and doctorate levels and depicts 30-year trends. This report also examines issues related to gender and citizenship.

When you visit the SRC homepage, you will find an astronomy button in the center near the bottom of the page. By clicking the astronomy button you will be presented with the latest reports and data graphics the SRC has posted concerning astronomy education and employment.

 

Mark T. Adams
NRAO

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) invites scientists to respond to the NRAO Semester 2015A Call for Proposals for the Very Large Array (VLA), the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) − High Sensitivity Array (HSA) − Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), and the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The submission deadline for Semester 2015A proposals is Friday, 1 August 2014, at 5:00 pm EDT (21:00 UTC).

The Call for Proposals is available in whole or in part via the following PDFs:

The complete 2015A NRAO Call for Proposals is also available online.

NRAO especially wishes to highlight new opportunities for joint observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift gamma-ray-burst mission. NRAO also wishes to point out that, for the first time, the Large Millimeter Telescope is being offered for inclusion in the High Sensitivity Array (HSA) for 3-mm very long baseline interferometry (VLBI).

Proposal preparation and submission are via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Note that PST use requires registration.

Qizhou Zhang
Harvard-Smithsonian, CfA

The Submillimeter Array (SMA), the radio interferometer on Mauna Kea built by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, makes available a fraction of the observing time to principal investigators from the astronomical community worldwide.

The next proposal deadline is 7 August 2014 for the observing semester 16 November 2014 through 15 May 2015. More information, technical details, and instructions and tools for proposal preparation and submission can be found  on the SMA Observer Center website. The proposal submission tool is expected to be open in mid-July 2014.

Questions or comments regarding the call for proposals can also be addressed to propose@sma.hawaii.edu.

Crystal M. Tinch
Communications Manager
American Astronomical Society (AAS)

The Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) seeks innovative projects from around the world that aim to use astronomy to stimulate education and development in three target areas: universities and research, children and schools, and public outreach.


The OAD launched its first open call for proposals in 2012. The response was overwhelming, with 191 applications received that year. In 2013 the demand increased by 20%, with 230 applications received. Although the funds provided by the IAU are modest (enough to meet only 10% of the demand), projects that are evaluated to meet a certain standard of quality are placed on a “recommended list” for which the OAD continues to seek support.

This year the OAD call for proposals does not seek to increase the number, but rather the quality, of the proposals received. Innovation will be an important criterion for success. The deadline for receipt of proposals is midnight UTC on 31 August 2014.

Crystal M. Tinch
Communications Manager
American Astronomical Society (AAS)

AAS member Christopher Impey (University of Arizona) has been appointed as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) professor. This appointment includes a five-year grant of $1 million to support his research and educational activities.

A letter from the institute describes HHMI professors as "highly accomplished scientists who apply to science education the same creativity and rigor that made them successful in scientific research." Since the program's beginning in 2002, and including the 2014 cohort of 15 new HHMI professors, only 55 scientists have been recognized with this honor — and Chris Impey is the first astronomer.

Chris is a University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona and deputy head of the Astronomy Department. His research interests include observational astronomy, quasars, and distant galaxies. He has written 160 research papers, two astronomy textbooks, six popular science books, and a novel. He has won 11 teaching awards, is a former Vice-President of the AAS, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

HHMI is a science philanthropy whose mission is to advance biomedical research and science education for the benefit of humanity. The institute empowers exceptional scientists and students to pursue fundamental questions about living systems. Headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland, HHMI employs more than 3,000 individuals across the United States. In fiscal year 2013, HHMI invested $727 million in US research and provided $80 million in grants and other support for science education.