Search form

Kim Earle
AAS Director of Meeting Services

Sunday, July 14th, was no ordinary day. In addition to it being my birthday, it was the start of the highly talked about AAS Topical Conference Series, or AASTCS. Responding to our original 2011 announcement, hopeful conference organizers submitted proposals to the AAS Council in June 2012. Approval came soon after, and then planning started in earnest. The organizers didn’t need to concern themselves with logistical details; the AAS handled registration, abstract submission, and all the arrangements with the meeting venue, allowing the proposers and their organizing committees to focus on the scientific content of their conference.

Attendees came from all parts of the world to the Hyatt Regency in beautiful Monterey, California, for two 5-day conferences in July. The first, Probes of Dark Matter on Galaxy Scales, included participants who engaged in interactive presentations and productive networking activities on dynamical studies (utilizing new simulations as well as new observational data), gravitational lensing, kinematical studies of dwarf galaxies in the Local Group and beyond, and indirect probes of dark matter.

One week after the conclusion of AASTCS #1, the next conference started in the same manner and with the same positive vibe. Giants of Eclipse provided a forum to discuss the physics of cool giants in eclipsing binaries, such as Epsilon Aurigae, to examine new data for such objects, and to compare the latest theories. It featured workshops on phenomena, data, instrumentation, methods, and models, and brought together experts in spectroscopy, photometry, imaging, interferometry, spectropolarimetry, stellar magnetic activity, and evolution, including both professionals and amateur astronomers.

Response from attendees at both conferences was positive. Many said that thanks to the quality of the science, the amount of engagement among participants, the confortable setting, and the convenient location, the inaugural AASTCS meetings were both productive and successful.

The AAS, including staff, leadership, and membership, would like to express a special and sincere “Thank you!” to Sukanya Chakrabarti, Leo Blitz, Elizabeth Griffin, and Robert Stencel and all the members of their science organizing committees. Without their dedication and hard work these conferences would not have been possible.

Two AASTCS conferences are scheduled in 2014, one on the challenge of exascale radio astronomy and another on the origin, evolution, and collapse of dense cores in star-forming regions. Detailed information on both meetings will be coming soon. Proposals for future AASTCS conferences will be due late next year. I invite anyone interested in submitting a proposal — or simply thinking about possible topics and/or wanting to know more about what’s involved — to email me for more information.

G. Fritz Benedict
AAS Secretary
Univ. of Texas, Austin

Balloting for the next election of AAS officers and councilors will open in mid-December 2013 and close at the end of January 2014. All AAS members eligible to vote in the election will be notified once the ballot is available. Every vote is important, and those elected will be empowered to decide the direction and goals of our Society.

Candidates for the Nominating Committee were proposed by the membership at our annual business meeting in Indianapolis in June:

Nominating Committee (term: 3 years, positions open: 1)
Rica Sirbaugh French
Jacob Noel-Storr
Caroline Simpson
Nicole van der Bliek

The Nominating Committee prepares slates of candidates for officers and councilors and helps prepare slates of candidates to serve on the Publications Board and Astronomy Education Board, as specified in the Constitution & Bylaws.

Here is the current Nominating Committee's proposed slate of candidates for officers and councilors:

Vice-President (term: 3 years; positions open: 1)
Jack Burns
Robert Hanisch

The Vice-Presidents, as representatives of the Council, are responsible for the overall scientific content of the Society's major meetings. They select invited speakers, review proposals for special sessions, and support and advise the Executive Officer in maintaining the scientific quality of the program. The two senior VPs serve on the Executive Committee.

Treasurer (term: 3 years; positions open: 1)
Nancy Morrison

The Treasurer is responsible for the financial affairs of the Society and keeps full and accurate accounts of receipts and disbursements in the Society's books. He or she deposits or invests all monies or other valuable effects in the name of the Society in such depositories or investments as are selected by the Council. The Treasurer prepares an annual report to the Council on the financial condition of the Society and secures regular audits of the Society's financial operations.

Councilor (term: 3 years; positions open: 3)
Grace Deming
Susana Deustua
Kelly Holley-Bockelmann
Buell Jannuzi
Karel Schrijver
Liese van Zee

As members of the governing board of the AAS, councilors have the legal responsibility to manage, direct, and control the affairs and property of the Society. Within the limits of the Bylaws, the Council determines the policies of the Society and changes to them, and it has discretion in the disbursement of the Society's funds.

USNC-IAU (term: 3 years; positions open: 1)
David Soderblom
Lee Anne Willson

The U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union (USNC-IAU) represents the interests of the U.S. astronomical community and safeguards the intellectual vigor of the Union.

Additional nominations for officer or councilor may be submitted by mail and must be accompanied by a written statement from the nominee indicating a willingness to serve and by the signatures of at least 30 voting full members of the Society.

Additional nominations for the Nominating Committee must be proposed by at least 5 full members of the Society and must also be accompanied by the nominee's written statement indicating a willingness to serve.

All nominations and supporting materials must be received by 16 September 2013 in the Office of the Secretary:
G. Fritz Benedict
McDonald Observatory
University of Texas
1 University Station
Austin, TX 78712

Candidate biographies and statements will be posted on the AAS website at least 30 days before balloting opens, i.e., by mid-November.

Questions? Please send them to me by email.

Gina Brissenden
Education & Outreach Coordinator
American Astronomical Society

The AAS Executive Office is seeking members — a couple hundred or so! — to judge posters for the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards at the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, in January. Volunteers will be asked to evaluate no more than five undergraduate- and/or graduate-student posters according to defined criteria. (New criteria designed to simplify the judges' task will be unveiled soon.)

Attention junior members: Advanced graduate students who have finished their coursework and are working on their dissertation research are now eligible to judge undergraduate posters.

Student poster authors will sincerely appreciate your expertise in judging their work. Judging will occur on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, 6, 7, and 8 January, at convenient times.

You can easily sign up to volunteer while registering for the meeting or submitting your own abstract. If you’ve already registered or submitted an abstract and didn’t volunteer, it’s not too late! Just contact me via email. Same goes if you have any questions.

B. Scott Gaudi
Ohio State Univ.

NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG) will hold its 8th meeting Saturday-Sunday, 5-6 October 2013, just prior to, and at the same venue as, the 45th annual DPS meeting in Denver, Colorado. ExoPAG meetings are open to the entire scientific community. They offer an opportunity to participate in discussions of scientific and technical issues in exoplanet exploration and to provide input into NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP). All interested members of the astronomical and planetary science communities are invited to attend and participate.

ExoPAG-8 will focus on expanding the inclusiveness of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program to the wider exoplanet community. Preliminary agenda topics include progress toward a coronagraph/occulter in space and progress toward establishing a robust estimate of the frequency of potentially habitable planets. In addition, there will be reports from the active Study Analysis Groups (SAGs), including SAG-9, which is considering the science requirements for a medium-scale direct-imaging mission to probe exoplanets.

Questions and suggestions can be sent to Scott Gaudi, ExoPAG Chair, and/or Dr. Douglas Hudgins, ExoPAG Executive Secretary. News and information about NASA's ExoPAG and the ExoPAG-8 meeting, including hotel information, can be found on the ExoPAG website.

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

The Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group (COPAG) is an open, interdisciplinary forum that provides a conduit for community input into NASA's Cosmic Origins (COR) Program and for informing the scientific community about activities and opportunities related to COR. The COPAG also conducts analyses of science objectives in support of planning and prioritizing COR program activities.

Further information can be found on the COPAG website.

Nominations are due by 20 September 2013; self nominations are welcome.

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

The following announcement was received from Aline D. McNaull, Government Relations Division, American Institute of Physics:

Applications are now being accepted for the APS/AIP Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the US Department of Education. The application deadline is 20 September 2013.

The American Physical Society (APS) and American Institute of Physics (AIP) will jointly sponsor a science policy fellowship at the US Department of Education (ED) within the Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (OPEPD). The selected fellow, a PhD-level member of one of the AIP Member Societies, will spend up to two years working on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education policy and programs at ED.

Fellows may be asked to conduct research and develop metrics to assess the impact of various department initiatives; explore emerging STEM issues in P-12 education, higher education, career and technical education, or STEM teacher preparation; identify new ways for ED to deepen its impact in STEM fields; coordinate interagency efforts to achieve ED policy goals; develop policy priorities for proposed programs such as STEM Innovation Networks; perform legislative research; and identify potential partnerships between ED and other federal agencies, state and local governments and the private sector. The OPEPD is responsible for coordinating and developing major policy initiatives in close collaboration with staff in other departments, the White House, and Congress and the fellow would play a role in these efforts.


  • Hold a doctoral level degree (PhD) in a field of physics (e.g., theoretical or experimental physics, physics education research, astronomy, biophysics, etc.)
  • The ideal candidate will have a background in physics education research
  • Have solid scientific and technical credentials and the endorsement of three references
  • Show a commitment to serve society
  • Exhibit outstanding communications skills and demonstrated ability to craft policy papers, decision memos, talking points and program proposals on complex education issues for diverse audiences, including non-scientific audiences
  • Demonstrate strong interpersonal skills and willingness to work with a wide range of individuals and offices at the department and ability to be effective in large bureaucracies
  • Possess the ability to operate and execute with limited guidance and in ambiguous or novel circumstances; and the ability to appropriately and effectively use informal authority when leading teams or projects
  • Hold U.S. citizenship (dual citizenship is acceptable)
  • Federal employees are not eligible
  • Candidates must have some familiarity with education policy and/or federal policy
  • Applicants must be a member of one of the AIP Member Societies

Fellowship Term

The selected Fellow will work at ED in an office agreed to by ED, APS, and AIP for a minimum of one year; however, the fellowship appointment will not exceed two years.


  • The fellowship stipend is $70,000 per year with additional funding to support professional development and travel
  • Fellows are eligible for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, Federal Employees Group Life Insurance, and other benefit programs available to Federal employees

Application Process and Deadline

Applicants should submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, and list of references to Dr. Tyler Glembo at The application announcement with additional information is available on the APS website.

The application deadline is 20 September 2013.

Mia Hartman
National Optical Astronomy Observatory

The National Optical Astronomy Observatory announces the availability of observing time for the 2014A semester, 1 February - 31 July 2014. The facilities available this semester include the Gemini North and South telescopes, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (includ­ing SOAR), Kitt Peak National Observatory (including WIYN), com­munity-access time with the Keck 10-m telescopes and the CHARA interferometer, as well as time available on the Subaru 8.2-m telescope and the 4-m Anglo-Australian Telescope through exchange programs. Details of instrumentation, observing modes, and schedules, as well as proposal submission instructions, are available on the NOAO Observing webpage.

Proposals are due no later than 11:59 pm Mountain Standard Time on Thursday, 26 September 2013 (NOAO is headquartered in Arizona, which doesn't observe daylight-saving time). Time Allocation Committee meetings will take place 28 October - 1 November 2013.

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

NASA invites observing proposals for the Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, for the 2014A semester (1 February to 31 July 2014). Proposals are due on Tuesday, 1 October 2013. Information on available facility and visitor instruments can be found on the NASA IRTF webpage.

Onsite or remote observing is available with NSFCAM, a 2048 x 2048 pixel, 1-5 micron camera with a 0.04 arcsec/pixel scale and a circular variable filter, as well as with CSHELL, a 1-5 micron high-resolution spectrograph (up to R=30,000). Be advised that SpeX will not be available for the 2014A semester.

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

The Office of Science and Technology Policy is currently accepting applications for its Spring 2014 Internship Program. The application deadline is 11:59 pm EDT Friday, 4 October 2013. College and university students who are U.S. citizens and who will be actively enrolled during the Spring 2014 semester are welcome to apply.
More information and application instructions are available at the Office of Science and Technology Policy web page.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy advises the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The office serves as a source of scientific and technological analysis and judgment for the President with respect to major policies, plans, and programs of the federal government.
Interns are accepted for one of three annual terms (Spring, Summer, or Fall), which each last no more than 90 days. While these positions are without compensation, the assignments provide educational enrichment, practical work experience, and networking opportunities with other individuals in the science and technology policy arena. Also, you may be eligible to receive academic credit from your college or university.
For questions, please contact Rebecca Grimm.

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

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, is currently accepting student grant applications for awards up to $5,000 in the field of astronomy. The money can be used to pay for travel expenses to and from a research site, or for the purchase of non-standard equipment necessary to complete a specific research project, or for certain other purposes. The application deadline is 15 October 2013. 

The Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) program has been providing undergraduates and graduate students with valuable educational experiences for more than 80 years.

Additional information and the online application can be found on the Sigma Xi web page.

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

The National Science Board (NSB) is seeking nominations for the 2014 Vannevar Bush Award and the 2014 Public Service Awards. Nominations are due Wednesday, 30 October 2013.

Vannevar Bush Award

The Vannevar Bush Award honors exceptional, lifelong science and technology leaders. Award recipients have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the nation, by both expanding the frontiers of science and technology and serving as champions of science in the public sphere.

Established in 1980, the award commemorates Vannevar Bush, a science advisor to President Roosevelt during World War II. The driving force behind creation of the National Science Foundation, Bush helped establish peacetime federal funding for science and engineering as a national priority.

Candidates for the Vannevar Bush award must be U.S. citizens and must have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishment in meeting at least two of the following selection criteria:

  • Distinguished him/herself through public service activities in science and technology;
  • Pioneered the exploration, charting and settlement of new frontiers in science, technology, education and public service;
  • Demonstrated leadership and creativity that inspired others to distinguished careers in science and technology;
  • Contributed to the welfare of the nation and mankind through activities in science and technology;
  • Demonstrated leadership and creativity that has helped mold the history of advancements in the nation's science, technology and education.

Recent recipients include physicist and former NSF Director Neal Lane; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute President Shirley Ann Jackson; former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine; and Leon Lederman, director emeritus of Fermilab. Renowned science leaders Glenn Seaborg, Maxine Singer, and Linus Pauling have also been awardees, along with many more.

Detailed nomination instructions can be found on the Vannevar Bush Award website.

Public Service Award

The NSB Public Service Award honors individuals and groups that have made substantial contributions to increasing public understanding of science and engineering in the United States. These contributions may be in a wide variety of areas, including mass media, social media, education, training programs and entertainment.

Two awards are typically given each year: one to an individual and one to a company, corporation or organization. Members of the U.S. government are not eligible to receive the award.

Candidates should have demonstrated outstanding leadership and accomplishment in meeting the following selection criteria:

  • Increased public understanding of science and engineering processes through discovery, innovation and public communication;
  • Encouraged others to raise public understanding of science and technology;
  • Promoted engagement of scientists and engineers in public outreach and scientific literacy;
  • Contributed to the development and support of broad science and engineering policy;
  • Influenced and encouraged the next generation of scientists and engineers;
  • Achieved broad recognition outside of the candidate's area of specialization;
  • Fostered awareness of science and technology among broad segments of the population.

Neurologist and author Oliver Sacks, the PBS-TV series "NOVA," "Science Friday" host Ira Flatow, and San Francisco's Exploratorium are all past recipients of the Public Service Award. A complete list of recipients, as well as nomination instructions, can be found on the award website.

For more information, contact Jessica Arriens or Ann Ferrante at NSF. 

— Adapted from a National Science Foundation (NSF) press release.

Gregory B. Taylor
University of New Mexico

We invite applications for observing time with LWA1 Radio Observatory. At this call the first station of the Long Wavelength Array (LWA1) offers up to four independently steerable wide-band beams and two all-dipole modes (denoted transient buffer wide, TBW, and transient buffer narrow, TBN). Each beam supports two independent tunings over the LWA1 frequency range from 10 to 88 MHz with a FWHM ranging from 15 to 2 degrees. We expect to schedule approximately 1,500 beam-hours and 200 TB-hours between 1 March and 1 December 2014.

We invite proposals from all communities wishing to use this instrument. The complete call for proposals, including templates for the required cover page, can be found on the LWA proposal page. The deadline for applications is midnight MDT on 1 November 2013.

More information about the capabilities of the LWA1 Radio Observatory can be found on the LWA web pages. An introduction to using the LWA1 is available at

For questions regarding this call for proposals, please email

Support for operations and continuing development of the LWA1 is provided by the National Science Foundation under grants AST-1139974 and AST-1139963 of the University Radio Observatory program.

Edward F. Guinan
Villanova Univ.

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) General Assembly (GA) takes place every three years and lasts for 10 days. The following report on IAU XXVIII GA, held 20-31 August 2012 in Beijing, China, was prepared by Edward Guinan, chair of the U.S. National Committee (USNC) for the IAU, and Kathie Bailey-Mathae, director of the Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO).

I. Overview of the General Assembly

The 28th IAU General Assembly (GA) was held in Beijing, China, 20-31 August 2012. The GA was held in the China National Convention Center (CNCC), located on the 2008 Olympics site.

Currently, the IAU consists of 10,900 individual members from 93 countries. Seventy-three countries are now national members, with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan joining the IAU at the GA. The GA was attended by over 2,700 astronomers and guests from over 55 different countries. The United States was well represented at the meeting with about 440 astronomers and guests attending. About 100 U.S. astronomers were supported by travel grants from the NSF (arranged through the AAS). Many important papers and talks were given by astronomers from the United States. Of particular note, U.S. astronomer (and USNC member) Bob Williams served as the President of the IAU from August 2009 through the end of the GA. Williams officiated at many of the GA functions and events.

The scientific program of the GA was diverse and attractive with an expanded schedule of sessions and talks. There were four Invited Discourses (IDs) held at plenary sessions. One of these IDs, "Supernovae, the Accelerating Cosmos, and Dark Energy," was given by U.S. astronomer and recent Nobel Prize recipient Brian Schmidt. There were eight IAU symposia, eighteen Special Sessions, and seven Joint Discussions that covered a wide array of interesting topics in contemporary astronomy and astrophysics, as well as sessions and programs focused on education and public outreach in astronomy. Also, most IAU Commissions and Divisions held business meetings. In addition to several interesting social and cultural events, there were special programs and events including Astronomy for Children and Schools, the Gruber Foundation Prize and Fellowship (and related talk), Women in Astronomy, Young Astronomers Programs, Astronomy Librarians, Battling Light Pollution, and the popular daily screenings of the film Saving Hubble.

The current President of the People's Republic of China, Xi Jinping (at the time Vice-President) attended and gave a welcoming address on "exploring the vast universe hand in hand, working together toward a better future for humankind." This important and inspiring address encouraged international cooperation in science, particularly in astronomy. Before handing the podium over to Xi Jinping, Bob Williams commented how the attendance of such a senior government official at the opening ceremony demonstrates the high value that the country's government attaches to science. The opening ceremony had an Olympic feel to it. A Chinese drum performance led, followed by several traditional dances and a musical instrument performance. And while in other instances the incredibly skilled silk acrobatics would have stolen the show, to an audience of astronomers, it was the mock-up of radio telescopes using silver umbrellas by staff and students from the National Astronomical Observatory of China (NAOC) that seemed to have had the most appeal. As with the opening ceremony, the GA came to a close with an extravaganza of traditional Chinese dance and music performances, including the Thousand-Hand Dance. As noted in the IAU GA daily newspaper, The Celestial Inquirer, "with such stunning choreography, even a bunch of astronomers were able to turn a blind eye to the serious exaggeration in numbers!" 

II. Some Recent Developments of the IAU

The IAU is going through a period of transition from an organization that historically has maintained a largely internal focus emphasizing meetings and events for its members to one that is becoming more involved in education and outreach. One of the primary accomplishments of the 2009 IAU GA in Brazil was the adoption the IAU Strategic Plan, "Astronomy for Development" [PDF]. This led to the establishment of the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2012. The main goals of the strategic plan were and are to place increasing emphasis on education, development, and outreach programs that advance astronomy in developing countries. Also the IAU continues to foster international collaboration through its support of large facility projects.

Several changes to the IAU statutes were proposed in Beijing that will allow broader input and oversight from members on issues such as membership and finances. For example, it was proposed that, in the future, scientific resolutions could be presented and discussed at the GA and on the IAU website but then voting will be open to all members and conducted electronically following the GA. The email addresses of IAU members are now located in the IAU membership base.

A major structural change in the organization of the IAU was overwhelmingly approved at the GA. As a result, the IAU Divisions are now more in line with current major research themes in astronomy. The relevant resolution will be discussed in more detail later in this report.

III. General Assembly Actions

The official U.S. delegation, appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, consisted of Edward Guinan (Chair, USNC/IAU), Kevin Marvel (USNC/AAS), Sarah Heap (USNC-IAU, IAU Membership Committee). Kathie Bailey-Mathae, Director of the Board on International Scientific Organizations (BISO) at the National Academies, attended and represented the National Academy of Sciences. Many other individuals from the United States participated in the GA as well. Many played significant roles in organizing scientific sessions, serving as presidents or vice-presidents of IAU Divisions and Commissions, and of course presenting many excellent (and often exciting) scientific papers.

Four new resolutions were proposed at the General Assembly. All were thoroughly discussed and approved by overwhelming margins (three unanimously). The U.S. delegation supported all of these. Brief summaries of the resolutions follow, and more detailed discussions can be found on the IAU website.

RESOLUTION B1: On guidelines for the designations and specifications of optical and infrared astronomical photometric pass bands. This resolution was proposed by IAU Commission 25 to alleviate the considerable confusion that has existed and continues to exist in the defining and naming of photometric passbands of all spectral widths in the visible and infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum. The resolution aims to minimize such confusion and has been a long-time goal of members of Commission 25. The resolution was approved unanimously by the GA.

RESOLUTION B2: The re-definition of the astronomical unit (au) of length was proposed and supported by the IAU Division I Working Group on Numerical Standards. The resolution was introduced by Dennis McCarthy, U.S. Naval Observatory (retired), President of IAU Division I. The resolution was unanimously approved, so now the astronomical unit (au) is defined as a fixed number: 1 au = 149,597,870,700 m exactly. This definition can be used with all time scales such as Barycentric Coordinate Time, Barycentric Dynamical Time, Geocentric Coordinate Time, Terrestrial Time, etc. This eliminates possible conflicts with SI units, dependence on theories of motion, and requirements for additional conventions within the relativistic framework.

RESOLUTION B3: On the establishment of an International Near Earth Object (NEO) early warning system. This resolution was proposed by IAU Division III Working Group on Near Earth Objects. It addressed the threat posed by NEOs. As stated in the resolution, there is now ample evidence that the probability of catastrophic impacts of near-Earth objects (NEOs) on the Earth, potentially highly destructive to life, and for humankind in particular, is not negligible and that appropriate actions are needed to avoid such catastrophes that would arise for the largest NEOs. Thanks to the efforts of the astronomical community and of several space agencies, the cataloguing of the potentially hazardous NEOs, the monitoring of their impact possibilities, and the analysis of technologically feasible mitigations is reaching a satisfactory level. Even the impact of small- to moderate-sized objects may represent a great threat to our civilization and to the international community. The resolution notes that NEOs are a threat to all nations on Earth, and therefore all nations should contribute to avert this threat. The resolution recommends that the IAU National Members work with the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and the International Council for Science (ICSU) to coordinate and collaborate on the establishment of an International NEO early-warning system, relying on the scientific and technical advice of the relevant astronomical community, whose main purpose is the reliable identification of potential NEO collisions with the Earth and the communication of the relevant parameters to suitable decision makers of the nation(s) involved. 

RESOLUTION B4: On the restructuring of the IAU Divisions. This resolution was proposed by the IAU Executive Committee in response to changes in astronomy and the IAU that have taken place over the last decade. Both the IAU and astronomy as a whole have evolved considerably since the current Divisions were introduced in 1994 and formally adopted in 1997. A task group established by the executive committee was set up to examine the case for restructuring the divisions. The Commissions, Working Groups, and other bodies under the Divisions may also require restructuring. The resolution also addressed changes resulting from the implementation of the Strategic Plan, including the establishment of the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD). A strong link is desirable between the OAD, the Divisions, and the Executive Committee. The resolution was overwhelmingly approved. The resulting restructuring is detailed below; the last column gives the estimated numbers of members of each of the new Divisions. More information can be found on the IAU website.

Division Name/Topic Members
Division A Space & Time Reference Systems      800
Division B Facilities, Technologies, & Data Science   1,400
Division C Education, Outreach, & Heritage      800
Division D High Energies & Fundamental Physics      800
Division E Sun & Heliosphere   1,000
Division F Planetary Systems & Bioastronomy   1,200
Division G Stars & Stellar Physics   1,800
Division H Interstellar Matter & Local Universe      800
Division J Galaxies & Cosmology   1,400

IV. Events Sponsored by the USNC

Young Astronomers Luncheon

Young Astronomers Events (YAE) were first introduced at the 2006 IAU General Assembly, with the aim of stimulating networking opportunities between senior astronomers and those at the start of their careers. A successful second series of YAE was held in 2009, and they have now become a valued regular part of the GA program.

The Young Astronomers Luncheon at the Beijing GA was jointly sponsored by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (through a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation) and the Norwegian National Academy of Sciences and Letters (NNASL). The program was jointly organized by the IAU Paris office (Vivien Reuter and Michele Gerbaldi), the OAD (Kevin Govender), and the USNC/IAU (Kathie Bailey-Mathae & Ed Guinan). The event took place on Thursday, 23 August; about 245 astronomers participated. Welcome presentations were made by Bob Williams, Oddbjørn Engvold (NNASL), and Ed Guinan.

Eight young astronomers were pre-assigned to tables based on interest in specific topics. Each table included two senior astronomers, representing astronomy around the world. The senior astronomers exchanged ideas, provided advice, and discussed opportunities for postdoctoral positions and other career and employment opportunities. The importance of networking came up at numerous tables, with many young astronomers commenting that they find it difficult to find scientists whom they've never met before at large conferences. Evaluation forms were completed by the participants and will be used to improve this already successful program.

The second sponsored event, the Young Astronomer Consulting Service (YACS), was open throughout the GA to all young astronomers. Through YACS, young astronomers could contact a senior astronomer from his/her research field and seek practical advice and assistance. About 75 attendees made use of this service. The scheduling of appointments was organized at the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) booth. Michele Gerbaldi, Vivien Reuter, Kevin Govender, and the Young Astronomers Supporting Team helped organize these events.

Women in Astronomy Luncheon

The Women in Astronomy Luncheon was held on Monday, 27 August. This event was hosted by the IAU Working Group on Women in Astronomy. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (through a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation) and the IAU sponsored this lunch meeting. Keynote speaker Professor Xiangqun Cui, President of the Chinese Astronomical Society and former Director of the Nanjing Institute of Astronomical Optics and Technology, gave a summary of the current situation for women in astronomy in China. Subsequent discussion at individual tables focused on the current status of women in astronomy, issues that women astronomers face, and needed future actions to improve the environment. The Women in Astronomy Luncheon was very successful; about 230 people attended.

That evening a follow-up event, "Meet a Mentor," was held at the National Astronomical Observatories (NAOC), Chinese Academy of Sciences. Similar to the Young Astronomer Consulting Service, this event was designed to encourage more one-on-one and small-group conversation between young female astronomers and those established in their careers. Food and drink were provided by NAOC. Over 100 people attended. Feedback from attendees from both events was very positive.

USNC-Sponsored U.S. Reception

On the behalf of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the USNC/IAU sponsored (and funded) a reception at the GA. The U.S. reception was held at the Kavli Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (KIAA), at the Peking University campus on Wednesday evening, August 22nd. Kathie Bailey-Mathae (BISO) and Pam Gamble (NAS) did much of the work in planning and organizing the reception in coordination with the KIAA astronomers and staff. The traditional Chinese style of the KIAA was an attractive venue for this event. About 115 people attended the reception.

An interesting selection of Chinese food was served, and traditional Chinese classical and folk music was performed. Representatives of the Local Organizing Committee attended along with members of the IAU Executive Committee, Presidents of IAU Divisions and Commissions, USNC-IAU, NAS, and AAS members, directors of some major astronomy institutes and observatories, as well as other national representatives. The reception was very enjoyable and provided an opportunity for IAU President Bob Williams and U.S. astronomers to thank our Chinese hosts and interface with other national representatives. The U.S. reception helps strengthen ties with other countries and creates an atmosphere of good will and cooperation.

V. IAU XXIX General Assembly in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2015

The next IAU General Assembly will be held at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu, 3-14 August 2015. The American Astronomical Society (the primary organizer) and the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy are hosting the 2015 General Assembly on behalf of the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. National Committee for the IAU. An estimated 4,000 astronomers from more than 80 countries are expected to attend the two weeks of scientific dialogue, discussion, and decision-making.

A lively Hawaii GA invitation video was shown at the closing ceremony of the Beijing, GA. This video is now available on the meeting's website at The site is already providing basic information about the GA and will be expanded in the coming months with additional details regarding program specifics, travel information, and tour opportunities. Many of the most important telescopes in Hawaii were not yet built when the IAU last met in the U.S. in 1988.

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

Rachel Ivie of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center (SRC) informs us of a new publication:

AIP's SRC finds that the representation of women among physics faculty members continues to grow, reaching 14% in 2010. Additionally, over one-fourth of the newly hired physics faculty members in 2010 were women, and women continued to be hired as assistant professors, as well as instructors and adjuncts, at well above their availability rate among doctoral recipients.

Furthermore, in 2010, about 15% of PhD-granting physics departments had five or more women among their faculty members. The representation of women among faculty in astronomy departments continues to be higher than in physics departments; in 2010 19% of faculty members in astronomy-only departments were women.

These findings are based on the Academic Workforce Survey, a census of U.S. degree-granting physics and astronomy departments that the SRC conducts every two years.

For other reports related to gender trends in physics and related disciplines, see the AIP's Women in Physics page.

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

Patrick Mulvey of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) Statistical Research Center informs us of two new publications:

  • Roster of Physics Departments with Enrollments and Degree Data, 2012
  • Roster of Astronomy Departments with Enrollments and Degree Data, 2012

These reports provide a detailed, department-by-department listing of Fall 2012 enrollment and 2011-12 degree data for every degree-granting physics and astronomy department in the U.S.

The number of physics bachelor's and physics PhDs awarded to the class of 2012 have set all-time highs. The 6,776 physics bachelor's degrees earned in the academic year represent an 8% increase over the previous year and an 86% increase from a recent low in 1999. Similarly, the number of PhDs (1,762) in the class of 2012 is up 4% from the previous year and 62% from a recent low in 2004.

There has also been an increase in the number of astronomy bachelor's and PhDs conferred in recent years. About twice as many astronomy degrees (385) were awarded in the class of 2012 as a decade ago. The number of astronomy PhDs conferred has averaged around 150 degrees for each of the last five years. This is about 50% more PhDs than a decade ago.

You can access both rosters at