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One-Day Program for Amateur Astronomers & the Public

More than 3,000 professional astronomers, educators, journalists, and guests will gather in the nation's capital for the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), 5-9 January 2014, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD 20745.

The AAS is opening its meeting to amateur astronomers and other interested members of the public, who may take advantage of a special one-day registration rate of $50 per day on Monday, Tuesday, and/or Wednesday, January 6th, 7th, and/or 8th. Conference hours are 8:00 am - 9:00 pm EST each day.

Registration includes access to plenary sessions (see below) and the exhibit hall, where you can meet scientists working on major ground- and space-based telescopes, check out some of the newest astronomy books and products, and even immerse yourself in a digital planetarium experience. See our exhibitor list to find out who's coming, and see our science program for a complete schedule of daily activities.

Among the highlights of every AAS meeting are plenary lectures — invited and prize talks — by distinguished astronomers. There will be 14 such presentations from Monday through Wednesday (check the science program for details). Among the scheduled speakers:

  • “The Hubble Deep Field & Its Legacy,” Robert Williams (Space Telescope Science Inst.)
  • “New Developments in Galactic Archaeology,” Kenneth Freeman (Australian National Univ.)
  • “Tales from the Twitterverse & Other Media Excursions,” Neil deGrasse Tyson (American Museum of Natural History)
  • “Giant Planets in Dusty Disks,” Sarah Dodson-Robinson (Univ. of Delaware)
  • “The Formation of Galaxies & Supermassive Black Holes: Insights & Puzzles,” Rachel Somerville (Rutgers Univ.)

In addition, there will be six presentations and a star party designed especially for amateur astronomers and the public:

Monday, 6 January - Maryland Ballroom A

Gravitational Lensing Boot Camp
Robert J. Nemiroff (Michigan Technological University)
9:30 - 10:00 am
Origins of Habitable Planets
Alycia J. Weinberger (Carnegie Institution of Washington)
1:30 - 2:00 pm
Tuesday, 7 January - Maryland Ballroom A
Observing Asteroids for Fun and (Astronomical) Profit
Linda French (Illinois Wesleyan University)
9:30 - 10:00 am

Hunting the Oldest Stars in the Neighborhood
Thomas M. Brown (Space Telescope Science Institute)
1:30 - 2:00 pm
Star Party
7:30 pm  - 10:30 pm (Cloud Date Wednesday, 8 January) - Gaylord Pier

Come see the Moon, the planet Jupiter, and other celestial attractions and mingle with professional astronomers under the stars. The AAS is co-hosting this public observing extravaganza in partnership with local amateur astronomers and astronomy vendors. Our plan (weather permitting) is to set up telescopes adjacent to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center on the waterfront pier. Featured in the winter sky are the giant planet Jupiter and its moons, the Great Nebula in Orion, the Pleiades star cluster, and several attractive double stars. We'll also enjoy a nearly-first-quarter ("half") Moon. The star party is suitable for adults and kids of all ages. In the event of clouds (or worse), we’ll present a slideshow featuring highlights from the great telescopes of the world. It's a great opportunity to see the stars with help from knowledgeable guides, to meet local astronomers, and to learn about telescopes and other astronomy gear.

Local partners:

Attendance at the star party is FREE and open to the public. Weather and logistics updates will be posted on the AAS Facebook.

If you are bringing a scope, you may drive down National Harbor Boulevard and turn right at the Convention Center Loading Dock to access the waterfront pier.  This is for unloading purposes ONLY.  We recommend parking in the National Harbor parking garages.
Contact for more information: Jason Kendall, +1 917 529 1972.

Wednesday, 8 January - Maryland Ballroom A

Blazars & Gamma Rays
Lynn R. Cominsky (Sonoma State University)
9:30 - 10:00 am
Bringing the Nearby Stars Closer to Home
Todd J. Henry (Georgia State University)
1:30 - 2:00 pm

Attendance at the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, offers an unprecedented opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the world's leading astronomers and to hear the latest cosmic news from the newsmakers themselves. 

Onsite registration is available at the Gaylord Convention Center Foyer beginning Sunday, 5 January 2014 at 3:00pm. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact AAS meeting registrar Tracy Beale.