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Our lease with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in Dupont Circle was due to expire in 2014. We investigated other real-estate options in the DC area with the goal of increasing our square footage to improve office efficiency. We soon realized that our rental rates on the 4th floor of the AGU building were approximately 20 percent below other comparable locations. We were therefore reluctant to leave, but we still needed more space.
In February, the AGU approached us with the option of relocating to a larger suite on the 3rd floor. With Council’s approval, we began to work with architects to design our new floor plan. The building-management company assisted us with the bidding and construction processes. Recycled and/or locally sourced materials were utilized where possible. For example, the carpet is made of recycled materials, and the construction finishes were produced in the United States.
We relocated to Suite 300 on July 13th. The additional square footage has allowed us to expand our main conference room, add a small second conference room, and increase the storage space for our meeting equipment, supplies, and signage. Every fall, when the elected officers of the Society and its divisions would gather for an annual leadership meeting, we'd have to rent space from the AGU to accommodate everyone in one room. Our new large conference room will allow us to host the leadership meetings in the AAS office without incurring additional rental fees from our landlords.
The relocation was a team effort and went remarkably smoothly. The entire staff did an incredible job to organize our new space. Thanks to their hard work, we are re-energized and focused, ready to work on our campaign to encourage online renewals (which starts on 1 September), the 45th DPS meeting in Denver, CO, in October, and the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, in January.
"For most astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and solar physicists, the AAS is, at best, a peripheral part of their lives," wrote AAS President David Helfand in April 2013. "Given the ever-accelerating pace of modern life, peripheral things get neglected — non-urgent emails get deleted, deadlines get skipped, dues renewals get forgotten, and calls for support get ignored. Political parties overcome this problem by having a hierarchy of unpaid, partially paid, and fully paid volunteers and staffers, and a party's effectiveness on election day comes not from the leadership but from the precinct captains. I have proposed the AAS adopt the precinct-captain model and, at the January  Council meeting, we agreed to proceed."
And so was born the AAS Agents program, designed to improve communication between the Society and its members and to enhance the profile of the AAS in the community. AAS Agents, representing colleges (or consortia thereof), universities, and research institutions that have at least a half dozen practicing astronomers, will act as interlocutors between the Society and its members. In return for their service, AAS Agents will receive a half-price registration discount for one Society meeting each year for a designee of their choice.
For a detailed description of the new program, as well as a list of responsibilities of institutional representatives, see "The AAS Agents Program." For a deeper look at the motivation for the program, as well as answers to some questions that we anticipate will be frequently asked, see "Information for AAS Agents."
We welcome anyone who wishes to volunteer to play this new role at his or her institution. To sign up, please fill out our short AAS Agents Sign-Up Form (note that you must be signed in to aas.org to fill out and submit the form). Deadline: 1 October 2013, if you wish to participate in the kickoff webinar in late October and in the Agents activities scheduled for the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, in January 2014.
One of the many benefits of membership in the AAS is the annual AAS Wall Calendar. It is provided free to all members and makes an attractive addition to any office. The calendar highlights important astronomical events month by month, including AAS and division meetings, proposal and grant deadlines, solar and lunar eclipses, equinoxes and solstices, meteor showers, Moon phases, and more. Produced in standard format, the calendar measures 11 x 8½ inches closed, 11 x 17 inches open.
Each month of the AAS Wall Calendar affords an opportunity for sponsorship by an observatory or other astronomy-related organization, department, mission, or project. Sponsors are featured with a full-page photo or illustration of their choosing, one or more logos, and a short block of text including a caption and credit. Sponsorship of the AAS Wall Calendar is a great way to show your support for the astronomical community and to ensure that your project, mission, or institution is recognized by astronomers all across North America.
Space is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone interested in sponsoring a month in the 2014 AAS Wall Calendar should contact Crystal Tinch (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information and pricing. Deadline: 1 September 2013.
NEW! Buy a Birthday
Individual members now have the option to commemorate their favorite scientists from the history of astronomy and related fields by "buying a birthday." Honorees' birth dates will be highlighted on the AAS Wall Calendar. Each person commemorated must be deceased and must have been a member of the AAS. Contact Crystal Tinch (email@example.com) for more information and pricing. Deadline: 1 September 2013.
Dates & Deadlines
The AAS relies on meeting organizers, telescope-allocation committees, funding agencies, foundations, and others to inform us of key dates and deadlines for inclusion in the AAS Wall Calendar. Every year we're asked why a particular proposal deadline or other important event of widespread interest to AAS members wasn't listed in the calendar, and the answer is always the same: "Because nobody told us about it." Don't let this happen to you! Please forward any key dates and deadlines for the 2014 AAS Wall Calendar to Crystal Tinch (firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible. Deadline: 1 September 2013.
Regular registration is open for the 45th annual meeting of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences, 6-11 October 2013, in Denver, Colorado. Log in and register today. Regular registration deadline: 5 September 2013.
Hotel reservations for the 45th DPS meeting are still available at the Sheraton Denver Downtown. Make your reservation by 3 September 2013 to take advantage of the AAS negotiated rate.
There will be a wide range of invited plenary talks at the meeting, including the following subjects and speakers: Voyager and the heliopause (Ed Stone), the Chelyabinsk meteor (Mark Boslough), 20 years of Kuiper Belt exploration (Hilke Schlichting), M-dwarf planets (Phillip Muirhead), seasonal changes on Titan (Caitlin Griffith), and end-of-the world scares (David Morrison, joint with the AAS Historical Astronomy Division). We also expect plenary talks by the DPS Urey, Kuiper, and Sagan prize winners.
Here are 10 more reasons to attend the 45th annual DPS meeting:
- Hear the latest science from planetary missions including MESSENGER at Mercury, Cassini at Saturn, Curiosity at Mars, and the Kepler exoplanet hunter.
- Present your latest and greatest research results in planetary science.
- Meet colleagues and discuss planetary science (and go on, admit it: gossip).
- See the latest widgets and wonders on display from the space industry in the Exhibit Hall.
- Participate in workshops on future missions, grant writing, career development, and collaborations with amateur astronomers.
- Participate in education and public outreach activities, including a live event during the Juno flyby of Earth.
- Visit the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to experience their Space Odyssey.
- See a special exhibition of space art and enjoy an evening with artists in the Denver gallery district.
- Explore the Rocky Mountains: hike, bike, or see the elk bugling in the rugged hills to the west of town.
- Drink craft beer brewed in some of Colorado's 187 breweries.
Kepler has had serious problems with two of its four reaction wheels, and these prevent it from continuing with its primary mission of searching for exoplanet transits. Efforts to understand and mitigate the hardware problems continue.
The purpose of this Call for White Papers is to solicit community input for alternate science investigations that may be performed using Kepler and are consistent with its probable two-wheel performance. The Call includes summary information on the Kepler instrumentation, the likely capability in two-wheel mode, URLs with further information, and instructions on submission of white papers.
You can download the Call for White Papers from the Exoplanet Exploration Program's home page.
The due date for white papers is 3 September 2013.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III announces its tenth public data release (DR10).
This release features the first data from a brand-new infrared instrument for SDSS. The Apache Point Observatory Galactic Evolution Experiment (APOGEE) is a 300-fiber, R ~ 22,500 spectrograph covering the wavelength range from 1.5 to 1.7 microns. APOGEE is being used to observe stars in our galaxy to reconstruct the assembly history of the Milky Way through detailed measurements of stellar parameters, elemental abundances, and radial velocities.
DR10 also includes an additional year of data from the ongoing SDSS-III Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS). BOSS has now obtained spectra for almost 1.4 million objects, including 860,000 galaxies and 105,000 quasars from 2 < z < 3.5, as part of its quest to measure the positions of 1.5 million massive galaxies over the past 6 billion years of cosmic time. BOSS is also observing 160,000 quasars from 2.15 < z < 3.5 to measure the Lyman-alpha forest at these epochs in addition to studies of quasars and absorption-line systems.
The next SDSS-III data release will be at the end of 2014.
The creators of the Golden Goose Award have announced that the next award will go to Dr. John Eng, a medical researcher and practicing physician whose study of the extremely poisonous venom produced by the Gila monster led to a drug that protects millions of diabetics from such complications as blindness, kidney failure, and nerve damage.
The Golden Goose Award was created in 2012 to celebrate researchers whose seemingly odd or obscure federally funded research turned out to have a significant, positive impact on society. Dr. Eng will receive the award at the second annual Golden Goose Awards ceremony in Washington, DC, this fall, along with the late Wallace Coulter, who was named a Golden Goose awardee earlier this year, and other winners to be named in the coming weeks.
The Golden Goose Award was originally the idea of Representative Jim Cooper (D-TN) and has the support of a bipartisan group of Members of Congress. It was created by a coalition of organizations, including the American Astronomical Society, that believe that federally funded basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential to our economic growth, health, global competitiveness, and national security. Award recipients are selected by a panel of respected scientists and university research leaders.
"Medicine from monsters and venom may sound like a science-fiction novel, but it's a real-life breakthrough," said Rep. Cooper. "Dr. Eng's research shows that we can't abandon science funding only because we don't know where it might lead. Just ask millions of diabetics whose lives have been improved by his discovery."
"Dr. Eng's research demonstrates the necessity of federally supported basic research," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA), another congressional supporter of the Golden Goose Award. "In 1992, there was no way of knowing that Gila monster venom contained a compound that would one day change the lives of millions of diabetics. We owe it to future generations to lay the groundwork now for tomorrow's breakthroughs."
— Adapted from a press release from the Association of American Universities. Read the full release (PDF).
The UNBSSI is a long-term effort for the development of astronomy and space science through regional and international cooperation in this field on a worldwide basis, particularly in developing nations. UNBSSI workshops are co-sponsored and co-organized by ESA, JAXA, and NASA.
A series of workshops on BSS was held from 1991 to 2004 (India 1991, Costa Rica and Colombia 1992, Nigeria 1993, Egypt 1994, Sri Lanka 1995, Germany 1996, Honduras 1997, Jordan 1999, France 2000, Mauritius 2001, Argentina 2002, and China 2004; http://neutrino.aquaphoenix.com/un-esa/) and addressed the status of astronomy in Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, and Western Asia. Through the lead of Professor Dr. Masatoshi Kitamura (1926-2012) from the National Astronomical Observatory Japan, astronomical telescope facilities were inaugurated in seven developing nations, and planetariums were established in 20 developing nations based on the donation of respective equipment by Japan.
Pursuant to resolutions of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (UNCOPUOS) and its Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, since 2005 additional workshops focused on preparations for and follow-ups to the International Heliophysical Year 2007 (UAE 2005, India 2006, Japan 2007, Bulgaria 2008, South Korea 2009; http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/SAP/bss/ihy2007/index.html). IHY’s legacy is the current operation of 16 worldwide instrument arrays with close to 1,000 instruments recording data on solar-terrestrial interactions from coronal mass ejections to variations of the total electron content in the ionosphere (http://iswi-secretariat.org). Instruments are provided to hosting institutions by entities of Armenia, Brazil, France, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and the United States.
Starting in 2010 the workshops focused on the International Space Weather Initiative (ISWI) as mandated in a 3-year work plan as part of the deliberations of UNCOPUOS. Workshops on ISWI were scheduled for Egypt in 2010 for Western Asia, Nigeria in 2011 for Africa, and Ecuador in 2012 for Latin America and the Caribbean. The latter one was held from 8-12 October 2012 at the Astronomical Observatory of Quito (http://oaq.epn.edu.ec/iswi/index.html). This workshop reviewed the results of the operation of the above instrument arrays and discussed ways and means to continue space-weather research and education, particularly focusing on programs as implemented by the International Center for Space Weather Science and Education at Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan (http://www.serc.kyushu-u.ac.jp/index_e.html), which was established through the UNBSSI in 2012. Similar research and education centers were also established in Nigeria (http://www.cbssonline.com/aboutus.html) and India (http://www.cmsintl.org).
UBNSSI tabled a full report to UN Member States in June 2013; it's available on the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) website at http://www.unoosa.org/pdf/limited/l/AC105_2013_CRP11E.pdf. The report will serve as input for the 2013 United Nations/Austria Symposium on Space Weather Data, Instruments and Models: Looking Beyond the ISWI, hosted and co-sponsored by the Government of Austria, the State of Styria, and the City of Graz and co-sponsored by the European Space Agency (ESA), 16-18 September 2013, Graz, Austria.