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G. Fritz Benedict
AAS Secretary
McDonald Observatory

The AAS election of officers and councilors for terms beginning in 2014 is now under way. New officers and councilors will help decide the Society's direction and goals. The best way to ensure that your voice is heard is to vote!

The ballot is online at http://vote.aas.org/ballot/ballot_view/6 and includes links to statements from all the candidates.

While you can see the candidates' names and read their statements without logging in, you must log in to vote. You will need your AAS username and password. Unless you've already changed it, your AAS username is your AAS member ID number. If you cannot remember your username, please contact membership@aas.org, call 202-328-2010 and press 4 to reach our membership department, or go to http://members.aas.org and click the "forgot my username" link.

If you would prefer to use a paper ballot, you may request one from Crystal Tinch by calling 202-328-2010 x115, emailing ballot@aas.org, or faxing 202-234-2560. Please include your AAS member number, if possible.

We are grateful to the following AAS members who have agreed to stand for election.

Nominating Committee:

  • Rica Sirbaugh French
  • Jacob Noel-Storr
  • Caroline Simpson
  • Nicole van der Bliek

Vice-President:

  • Jack Burns
  • Robert Hanisch

Treasurer:

  • Nancy D. Morrison

Councilor:

  • Grace Deming
  • Susana Deustua
  • Kelly Holley-Bockelmann
  • Buell T. Jannuzi
  • Karel Schrijver
  • Stephen C. Unwin
  • Liese van Zee

U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union (USNC-IAU):

  • David R. Soderblom
  • Lee Anne Willson

Vote today! Balloting closes at 11:59 pm EST on 31 January 2014.

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

In early January the AAS named Dutch astronomer Henny J.G.L.M. Lamers as an honorary member of the Society. Dr. Lamers is a professor at the University of Amsterdam, an emeritus professor at the University of Utrecht, and an elected member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Henny Lamers is best known for his work on stellar populations, especially massive stars, and was one of the early pioneers in the study of mass loss from stars. In addition to hundreds of scientific papers, he is the author or editor of several books, including Introduction to Stellar Winds with Joseph P. Cassinelli (Cambridge University Press, 1999), Formation and Evolution of Massive Young Star Clusters with Linda J. Smith and Antonella Nota (ASP Conference Series, 2004), and Stellar Evolution at Low Metallicity: Mass Loss, Explosions, Cosmology with Norbert Langer, Tiit Nugis, and Kalju Annuk (ASP Conference Series, 2006).

In response to a congratulatory email from AAS President David Helfand, Lamers wrote, "Thank you very much for making me an honorary member of the AAS. I am surprised and delighted that you consider my work worthy of this honor!" He then noted that it was his second surprise in as many days — only a day earlier, he received notification from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) that asteroid 12635, discovered in 1971 by a team of Dutch astronomers working at Palomar Observatory, would henceforth be known as Hennylamers.

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

Robert P. Kirshner, Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University, is the recipient of the 2014 James Craig Watson Medal from the National Academy of Sciences. Kirshner, who served as AAS president from 2004 to 2006, is being honored for his contribution to our understanding of both supernovae and the structure and evolution of the universe. His work with students using supernova light curves as calibrated standard candles has provided evidence for an accelerating expansion of the universe. The dark energy inferred from this result is one of the deepest mysteries of modern science.

The Watson medal is presented to honor contributions to astronomy and includes an award of $25,000, plus $25,000 more to support the recipient's research. It was established by the bequest of James C. Watson (1838−1880), a Canadian-American astronomer who worked mainly in Michigan, serving from 1863 to 1879 as director of Detroit Observatory. Coincidentally, Bob Kirshner held that same position during the observatory's last days as a fiefdom of the University of Michigan's Department of Astronomy (it's now a division of the university's Bentley Historical Library).

The first recipient of the Watson Medal, in 1887, was Benjamin A. Gould who, among his many other accomplishments, founded the Astronomical Journal in 1849; the AAS has published the journal since 1941.

Gina Brissenden
Education & Outreach Coordinator
American Astronomical Society

The latest Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards competition, which occurred at the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, earlier this month, was a record-setting event. Nearly 450 student poster authors entered the competition, of which two-thirds were undergraduates, and there were approximately 250 judges! Student posters were evaluated during the morning coffee breaks and afternoon poster sessions all four days of the meeting, not just Monday through Wednesday as in the past, partly because of the record number of posters and partly because of changes in the way posters are being scheduled into science sessions.

As a result of the longer competition, not all judges' scores were in hand by the end of the meeting, and we couldn't announce the winners before everyone went home. The last of the outstanding scores have now come in, so we will be ready to announce the winners in both the undergraduate and graduate-student categories on our website next week.

On behalf of our Society and all of the students who entered the AAS 223 Chambliss competition, I would like to thank our volunteer judges, with a special thanks to those who volunteered onsite to replace judges who got stuck at home due to the bad weather that hit the DC area. I would also like to thank the AAS Executive Office staff who help to make this very important competition such a big success.

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

Each year the AAS brings members to Washington, DC, for Congressional Visits Day (CVD). This event, organized by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group (SETWG), gathers scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives in the nation’s capital to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology. This year CVD will be held Tuesday-Wednesday, 25-26 March 2014, with both days requiring full-day commitments, about 8 am to 6 pm. Business attire is required. Sign-ups are open now through 5:00 pm EST on Tuesday, 11 February 2014.

Volunteers will travel to Washington, DC, to participate in an all-day seminar on how to communicate effectively with policymakers, followed by a full day of meetings with Capitol Hill and/or White House staff. The pre-briefings will cover both astronomy-specific and more general science-policy issues, with the latter organized by SETWG. During the two weeks prior to your time in Washington, we will also have a series of informational pre-briefings via the web and/or teleconference.

We aim to select 10 to 12 volunteers who balance the program by location, career stage, and experience. We especially encourage graduate students to volunteer. Selected members will be notified by 14 February 2014.

To sign up, please use our Congressional Visits Day 2014 Sign-Up Form. Note that you’ll need to sign in to aas.org using your AAS username and password to submit the form.

Marc Postman
STScI

The AAS Demographics Committee is charged with identifying, collecting, and disseminating demographic data about the AAS membership to aid the Society in best serving the needs of our community. Toward this end, in late 2011 the AAS Council tasked the committee to design and execute a biennial survey to measure and track systematic changes in the composition, backgrounds, and job histories of AAS members, in what types of work they do, and in what the perceived hurdles are in working in astronomy and related fields.

The initial version of the survey was developed in 2012 in collaboration with the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center and was launched in January 2013. The survey, which consisted of a mix of multiple-choice questions and short free-form-response questions, was sent to a randomly selected sample of 50% of all U.S. members of the AAS, corresponding to about 2,500 people. Up to two emails were sent to each recipient: an initial request and, if needed, a reminder. The survey was closed four months later in April 2013.

The response rate was excellent: 63% of the recipients (1,583 people) completed the survey. The AIP and AAS demographics team collated and analyzed the data over the summer and fall of 2013. The report summarizing the survey results was sent to the AAS Council in December 2013 and is now publicly available via the link below. We encourage all members to read the report. Planning for the 2015 survey is now under way.

Marc Postman & Rachel Ivie

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

Last night, President Obama delivered his 2014 State of the Union (SOTU) address. While matters of direct relevance to the astronomical sciences were not featured in his speech, the President identified basic research and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education objectives for his proposed "year of action"—two issues close to our hearts here at the AAS Executive Office.

If you missed the speech last night, you can find the full text of the President's remarks, archived video of the speech, and accompanying infographics in various places across the web today.

In the area of basic research, the President encouraged lawmakers to build upon what we saw hints of in the FY 2014 omnibus and re-invest strongly in basic research:

We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery—whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel.

To which I might did reply

though there are far more than 140 characters worth of "great American discover[ies]" in the astronomical sciences alone that could be substituted in there.

On the issue of STEM Education, or really education more generally, the President had this to say:

Of course, it’s not enough to train today’s workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow’s workforce, by guaranteeing every child access to a world-class education. [...] Five years ago, we set out to change the odds for all our kids. We worked with lenders to reform student loans, and today, more young people are earning college degrees than ever before. Race to the Top, with the help of governors from both parties, has helped states raise expectations and performance. Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy—problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math. Some of this change is hard. It requires everything from more challenging curriculums and more demanding parents to better support for teachers and new ways to measure how well our kids think, not how well they can fill in a bubble on a test. But it’s worth it—and it’s working.

While there was no obvious call-out for new programs (as for something like the BRAIN Initiative last year), this demonstrates that the President views STEM education as a priority that is crucial to our success as a nation—a message that was reiterated this morning during the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's State of STEM Education address. Astronaut Joe Acaba, in particular, highlighted the need for students to see challenging STEM curricula, have access to great teachers, and have opportunities to interact with scientists and engineers.

With the President's priorities for his "year of action" laid out, what comes next? The Presidential Budget Request/PBR/PresBud.

Following on the State of the Union, the President will release his budget request for FY 2015, which begins in this coming October. And while it is comparatively easy to make a positive statement about basic research, actually allocating funds that back up that statement is the much more difficult place where the rubber meets the road. The PBR is the result of many months of negotiation between federal agencies and the White House Office of Management and Budget. It is due to be introduced in Congress, by statute, on the first Monday in February. But as has been the case for 3 out of the past 4 fiscal years, it will arrive late—likely about a month or so this year.

The request will fill in the details of how the President would like his priorities implemented in the form of federal agency programming. Some of these will be new initiatives, potentially centering around the issues of advanced manufacturing and innovation hubs, which received SOTU callouts, while others will be clear in the relative amount of growth or cuts to particular programs.

As it does each year (e.g., last year), the AAS Council will issue a resolution that provides the Society's perspective on the budget request as it relates to astrophysics, planetary science, and solar physics. So keep an eye out for that in about a month and a half, unless of course that PBR shows up even later than currently expected...

Scott D. Tremaine
Institute for Advanced Study

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

In a recent column, AAS President David Helfand argued correctly that negative public messages about subfields within our own discipline, or even about other disciplines — “shooting inward at each other” — damage all of us.

Consider, then, the following public messages:

  • from a major research university, a press release titled “Astronomers Discover Planet that Shouldn’t Be There,”
  • from the European Southern Observatory, a press release titled “Turning Planetary Theory Upside Down,”
  • from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a press release containing the quote, “Much of what we thought we understood about the physics of pulsars and neutron stars may be wrong,”
  • from the Space Telescope Science Institute, a press release stating, “New observations from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope challenge 30 years of scientific theory about quasars,” and
  • from a respected news organization, an interview with a prominent exoplanet researcher containing the quote, “Theory has struck out.”

The point is not whether these messages provide accurate characterizations of the state of theoretical understanding in their respective subject areas (though in most cases they do not). The point is that by belittling and trivializing the efforts of theoretical astrophysicists — who try to understand extremely complex processes in exotic environments, with limited clues from observations — they damage the public perception of the entire astronomy community. As just one example, statements from press releases such as those above are often repeated on creationist websites, where they carry extra weight because they have the imprimatur of NASA or a major observatory or university.

Advances in observational astronomy are spectacular enough to appeal to the public on their own merits, without “shooting inward” at efforts to understand these observations. Astronomers and press officers can provide a more realistic picture of the synergy between observation and theory, and in so doing would improve the public perception of astronomy research in particular and of the scientific enterprise more generally.

Alice Allen
Editor, Astrophysics Source Code Library
Astrophysics Source Code Library

On Tuesday, 7 January 2014, at the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, the AAS Working Group on Astronomical Software (WGAS) and the Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL) sponsored a special session on code sharing as a follow-up to the splinter meeting “Astrophysics Code Sharing?” held at the 221st AAS meeting in Long Beach, California, a year earlier. The following is abridged from a longer report that appears on the ASCL website.

The standing-room-only session was moderated by Peter Teuben (University of Maryland), chairman of the ASCL Advisory Committee; Robert Hanisch (STScI), outgoing chair of the WGAS and also a member of the ASCL Advisory Committee, provided closing remarks.

Presentations

A very brief summary of some main points of the sessions, along with their titles, presenters, and links to slides (as PDF files), is given here.

  • Occupy Hard Drives: Making Your Work More Valuable by Giving It Away, Benjamin Weiner (University of Arizona)
    Ben pointed out that time spent writing software represents an enormous sunk cost that is, unfortunately, not viewed as doing real work, though writing software is part of doing science. He stated that widely-used software has enabled at least as much science as a new instrument would. He encouraged people to document their code for their own sake, to release it without worrying about bugs or other potential issues in the software, and to write software methods papers for journals. slides

  • Maintaining a User Community for the Montage Image Mosaic Toolkit, Bruce Berriman (Caltech)
    In this case study of Montage, Bruce stated that releasing software comes with a cost, but that it is still worth doing. Montage was developed under contract and was designed for ease of maintenance, modularity, and sustainability from the beginning. It is maintained primarily through volunteer effort, and in part through collaborations, e.g., with the LSST EPO team. He said the Caltech license under which Montage is distributed does not allow users to redistribute modified code, nor can Montage be included in other distributions such as Redhat. He suggests coders consider licensing carefully. slides

  • Cloudy: Simulating the Non-Equilibrium Microphysics of Gas and Dust, and Its Observed Spectrum, Gary Ferland (University of Kentucky)
    Gary discussed Cloudy, which, with over three decades of use, is the most mature of the three codes covered in this session. The code is autonomous and self-aware, providing warnings about what might have gone wrong when things do go wrong. Though the user community is broad, and participants in the summer schools that are held on the code have formed collaborations, a Yahoo! discussion forum for Cloudy has not been as successful as they had hoped. Cloudy was released as open access, with the most permissive license possible; Gary cited NSF as making this necessary since the code was developed with public grant funds. Students who work on the code get industry-standard programming experience, which is intended to help students gain employment after graduation. slides

  • NSF Policies on Software and Data Sharing and Their Implementation, Daniel Katz (National Science Foundation)
    Dan covered the NSF policies that govern software funded by the agency. Though some NSF panels are much more rigorous than others, it is expected that PIs will publish all significant findings, including data and software; he stated quite firmly that data include software according to the government. He also said that it is up to the community via peer-review panels to enforce these policies, that many core research programs don’t enforce this very well, and that the community determines what is and is not acceptable. This may be changing, however, as with an Office of Science and Technology Policy memo on open data, OMB policies are pushing harder on open access. slides

  • The Astropy Project’s Self-Herding Cats Development Model, Erik Tollerud (Yale University)
    The newest of the three code projects highlighted is Astropy. Erik described the grass-roots effort to self-organize the now ~60 code base contributors, and that this arose out of a common goal: to streamline astronomy tools written in Python, as having eight different packages to do the same thing means that 7/8ths of the effort was wasted. He stated that technology now exists that provides good support for such an effort, including GitHub to manage the processes of many developers, Travis for testing code, and Sphinx for documentation, which is written as the code is written. He pointed out that agreement on the problem was the key in getting the effort to come together and that consensus, guidelines, and expectations make it work. slides

  • Costs and Benefits of Developing Out in the Open, David W. Hogg (New York University)
    David started out by saying that everything his group does is open —  all papers, grant proposals, comments, and codes — and has been since 2005, and that this was a pragmatic, not an ethical decision. He stated that the negatives others give for not releasing code — getting scooped, embarrassment, time, email and support requests, licensing — are overplayed, and that since the public is paying for this, we should return the products we develop to them. He doesn’t know of a single case of someone getting scooped because he/she shared code. Rather, the benefits that sharing openly provides — establishing priority, visibility and goodwill, re-use and citations, feedback and bug-catching, and having the moral high ground — outweigh the overplayed negatives. slides

Discussion

After David’s presentation, Peter opened the floor for questions and discussion, which was lively and wide-ranging, touching on enforcement of policies governing release of research products, lack of long-term stewardship of software, export-control restrictions, costs and benefits of sharing code, reasons people do not release software, assigning credit to those writing useful programs, licensing, and other topics. Discussion lasted approximately 40 minutes, after which Peter turned the podium over to Robert Hanisch for closing remarks.

Session Wrapup

Robert reiterated that software sharing is fundamental to the dissemination and validation of research results, and though there are carrots and sticks for software sharing, the sticks are not very strong. He also pointed out that nothing within the funding agencies offers support for software development and that there is a disconnect between national policy and implementation.

He talked also about opportunity for change; as of Sunday, 5 January, the Working Group on Astronomical Software has Frossie Economou as its new chair, and over the weekend the AAS Council had suggested that the WGAS be elevated from a working group to a division within the AAS. Having a division focused on software will provide more visibility for it, and on this hopeful note, the session ended.

A Few Thoughts

This is the fourth discussion session the ASCL has arranged; previous sessions include one at AAS 221 and two at the previous two ADASS meetings. Links to materials or discussion from previous sessions are available on the ASCL blog.

I believe that science should be as transparent as possible, that code release (absent ITAR and other truly compelling reasons), even if only for examination, not reuse, is part of this transparency, and that ultimately code release is better for code authors, especially if the astronomy community works together to make it better for them. Code sharing can make astronomy more efficient, too, which is especially important in the current financial climate.

I want to thank Peter for moderating the session, Bob for offering closing remarks, and the most excellent Ben, Bruce, Gary, Erik, Dan, and David for presenting at this session, our wonderful volunteer whose name I did not get, alas, for her great work and for counting the 149 attendees, the AAS for accepting the proposal in the first place, and the amazing people who sent this session literally around the world through their tweets. Thank you!

James S. Ulvestad
Division Director
National Science Foundation

Following the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, in early January, here's an update from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST).

AAS Meeting Presentations
The AST Town Hall presentation, and the plenary talk by Dr. F. Fleming Crim, assistant director in charge of the NSF Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS), may both be found at the AST website.

FY 2014 Budget
Congress recently passed an omnibus appropriation for the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2014, extending through 30 September 2014. This includes an appropriation for NSF that is a significant increase over the FY 2013 sequester-budget level, but well below the President’s budget request for FY 2014. It is expected that the process of generating a budget plan for NSF (including AST) and receiving approval of that plan from Congress will not be concluded until late March, at the earliest.

Effects of Sequestration
Dr. Crim recently distributed a Dear Colleague Letter to the MPS scientific community describing the effects of the sequestration in the FY 2013 budget for MPS. We invite our community to read this letter, NSF 14-026.

AST Portfolio Divestment Options
The report of the AST Portfolio Review Committee, Advancing Astronomy in the Coming Decade: Opportunities and Challenges, was delivered to the NSF in August 2012. In December 2013, AST issued Dear Colleague Letter NSF 14-022, entitled "MPS/AST Portfolio Divestment Options," to inform the community of the current status and next steps in considering the report recommendations for telescope divestments. In brief, formal consideration of alternative futures will take place for several telescopes during 2014, while consideration of other telescopes will be deferred until external triggering events take place in the future. The contents of NSF 14-022 may be accessed on the NSF website.

Mid-Scale Innovations Program (MSIP) Pre-Proposals
AST received a total of 38 pre-proposals to its new MSIP program, advertised under solicitation NSF 13-567. The MSIP program is intended to be responsive to the number-two recommendation for large ground-based projects in the decadal survey report, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics. After review of the pre-proposals, 12 groups were invited to submit full proposals to the NSF, with a due date of 12 March 2014.

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

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program supports active research participation by college students in any of the areas of study funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program.

Students do not apply to NSF to participate in REU activities; instead, students apply directly to individual REU sites or to NSF-funded investigators who receive REU supplements. The majority of NSF-funded REU sites in astronomy have application deadlines in late January and early February. The NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences maintains a searchable listing of programs seeking applicants. Please note that only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are eligible to apply.

Mia Hartman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory

If you intend to submit a Large Program (LP) proposal to use the Gemini telescopes, a letter of intent (LOI) is due by 3 February 2014. For detailed information on Gemini Large Programs, please see the Gemini website. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) website is helpful as well.

An instruction summary for submitting a Gemini Large Program letter is as follows:

Letters of intent to propose a Gemini LP must be received by email to largeprograms@gemini.edu by 3 February 2014. Letters should include the information below, formatted as follows:

  • Title of Project
  • PI with full name of institution and contact information (phone and email)
  • Co-I's with full names of institutions
  • Instrument(s) to be requested
  • Broad scientific overview of the program (500-word limit)

Full proposals for a Gemini Large or Long Program are due by 31 March 2014.
 
Note that letters of intent are intended to allow for the selection of the telescope allocation committee (TAC) with minimal conflicts of interest and maximum applicable scientific expertise. Secondly, the description of the proposed program will allow for a review of the program in light of technical and operational constraints. Please keep this in mind when composing a letter of intent to ensure that relevant material is included, as the LOI proposal description is not meant to be the scientific justification.
 
In summary, a letter of intent for a Gemini Large (or Long) Program is due at largeprograms@gemini.edu by 3 February 2014. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) at vsmith@noao.edu.

Mia Hartman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) Survey Program will be accepting proposals for new surveys to start in the 2014B and 2015A semesters for the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) Blanco 4-meter telescope only. Due to the previous time allocations awarded to ongoing surveys on the CTIO SOAR and KPNO Mayall 4-m telescopes, and the upcoming termination of NOAO access to the WIYN 3.5-m and KPNO 2.1-m telescopes, Survey Program proposals for those facilities will not be accepted.
 
As a general rule, new Survey Program proposals should allow the identification of complete, well-defined samples that can yield both conclusions based on statistical analysis of the survey data itself and also provide important subsets for more detailed observations with larger telescopes. In addition, surveys are expected to provide coherent datasets that will be useful for other researchers.
 
For more information, visit the NOAO Survey Programs webpage. Questions about the Survey Program may be addressed to surveys@noao.edu.
 
Investigators must submit a letter of intent (LOI) to propose for the NOAO Survey Program to surveys@noao.edu by 14 February 2014 to be eligible to propose for an NOAO Survey Program commencing in the 2014B/2015A semester.  The guidelines for the LOI are posted on the survey information pages. The deadline for receiving completed survey proposals is 31 March 2014 at 11:59 pm MST.
 
Note that letters of intent are intended to allow for the selection of the telescope allocation committee (TAC) with minimal conflicts of interest and maximum applicable scientific expertise. Secondly, the description of the proposed program will allow for a review of the program in light of technical and operational constraints. Please keep this in mind when composing a letter of intent to ensure that relevant material is included, as the LOI proposal description is not meant to be the scientific  justification.
 
In summary, a letter of intent for an NOAO Survey Program proposal is due at surveys@noao.edu by 14 February 2014.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at NOAO (vsmith@noao.edu).

Fernando M. Camilo
Arecibo Observatory

The 305-meter William E. Gordon Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico is the largest single-dish radio telescope on our planet. Observing proposals to use it during the period 1 July to 31 December 2014 are due by 3 March 2014.

The Arecibo Observatory (AO) is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), which is operated by SRI International under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation and in alliance with Ana G. Méndez-Universidad Metropolitana and the Universities Space Research Association. Use of the AO is available on an equal, competitive basis to all scientists from throughout the world to pursue research in radio astronomy, radar astronomy, and atmospheric sciences. Observing time is granted on the basis of the most promising research as adjudicated by a panel of anonymous referees.

Requests in response to the current call for proposals should be for telescope usage within the six-month (or in some cases one-year) period beginning 1 July 2014, and proposals should be prepared under the procedures detailed in Procedures for Proposal Disposition and Telescope Scheduling.

Additional information is available in An Astronomer's Guide to the Arecibo 305-m Telescope.

Peter V. Foukal
Heliophysics, Inc.

Solutions to the problem sets in my text Solar Astrophysics are now available for free to instructors using the book in their courses. An up-to-date list of corrections to the text is also included.

To get your copy, visit the publisher's (Wiley's) website. Click on the “Instructor's Resources” button. If you've already registered with Wiley, log in with your email address and password; otherwise, click the "Register" button and fill out the publisher’s form to register. Then sign in and access the “Manual of Solutions.”

Should you encounter difficulties, the same material is also available from the undersigned at pvfoukal@comcast.net.