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What's the difference between astronomy and astrology?

Astronomy is a science that studies everything outside of the earth's atmosphere, such as planets, stars, asteroids, galaxies; and the properties and relationships of those celestial bodies. Astronomers base their studies on research and observation. Astrology on the other hand, is the belief that the positioning of the stars and planets affect the way events occur on earth.

What exactly is astronomy?

Astronomy is a physical science concerned with the smallest particles and the largest natural objects. The name Astronomy comes from the Greek roots Astr- and -nomia to literally mean "name stars". Astronomy is the study of everything outside of the earth's atmosphere and their chemical and physical properties.

So how often do I have to write?

For an issue to become important in a Congressional office, approximately five letters must arrive in a given week. This number is a bit larger for Senatorial offices. When an AAS Action Alert is sent out, we have heard from Congressional offices that many hundreds of letters (from AAS members only in several cases) have convinced the member of Congress to take action on the issue.

Why do I keep getting these "AAS Action Alerts" in my email?

Occasionally, an action by government that could have a negative (or positive) impact on astronomy must be stopped (or supported). At these times, a rapid, grassroots-level action on the part of the AAS membership can create a truly positive result in Congress or in other areas of government.

When one of these times arrives, the Policy Fellow works with the Executive Officer and the Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy creates an AAS Action Alert. This is then emailed to the appropriate sub-group of the AAS membership.

Besides funding, what else does the government do to either support or harm Astronomy?

The government has other impacts on astronomy besides the obvious one of providing funds for research and research facilities. Policies on education, for example stipend levels allowed under research grants, or student loan tax credits are both set by the Government. Policies regarding land use can have an obvious impact on astronomy. Governmental panels can make decisions about how many federal agencies should fund astronomy. The Federal Communications Commission manages spectrum use and can have both helpful and harmful impacts on astronomy.

What is Public Policy?

Public policy is a catchall phrase that includes actions of and interactions with both Congress and the Executive branch. It also captures activities of the AAS that can have an impact in the wider arena of public life, such as creating and endorsing statements related to science, science policy or other issues.

What is the AAS policy on use of mailing lists?

Postal Addresses
The AAS will permit use of the mailing list by commercial and non-commercial organizations. Details of products or events must be submitted and judged to be of potential interest to a significant fraction of the membership. Authorization is given for one-time use of the list on each occasion. A small fee is charged to cover handling. The AAS mailing list is never sold to firms unrelated to astronomy or science.

Does the AAS have funds to support travel to AAS meetings?

The Rodger Doxsey Travel Prize provides graduate students or postdocs within one year of receiving or receipt of their PhD a monetary prize to enable the oral presentation of their dissertation research at a winter meeting of the AAS.  Other than the Doxsey prize the the AAS does not have funds to support travel by members or nonmembers to its meetings. The AAS International Travel Grant Program only provides support for US based astronomers to travel to meetings held outside the US.

What are AAS meetings like?

AAS meetings are dynamic gatherings of professional astronomers from around the world. The winter meetings typically boast 2000 participants or more. The four days are filled with scientific sessions, both poster and oral as well as invited sessions from prominent researchers with exciting results. The summer meetings have topical sessions, which are more lengthy oral sessions focused on particular topics. The meeting program is decided upon by the three vice-Presidents with logistical details provided by the AAS meeting coordinator.


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