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Information for AAS Agents

Here we offer answers to some frequently-asked questions that will help AAS Agents serve as effective interlocutors between the Society and its members.

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Why does the AAS need to recruit new members?

While membership numbers in the AAS are quite steady, a large number of practicing astronomers do not belong to the AAS. The Society works for all astronomers — managing journals, organizing meetings, providing career and educational resources, and advocating for our discipline in Washington — all services essential to the success of our field and the individuals who work in it. Everyone who is involved in our efforts to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe should support the Society’s work.

What do you mean by developing “a systematic approach to graduate student membership?"

Currently, the AAS Agents model has a department enroll each new student by supporting their dues for two years; in such cases, the Society would then match this commitment. Thus, for one departmental payment of $138 (twice the current Graduate Student Member dues), the applying student would have free AAS membership for four years: two years with departmental support and two years with support from the AAS. This would be a concrete symbol of welcoming new students to the profession while establishing membership as an important (and routine) part of being an astronomer.

What would be the point of holding a once-a-year or semiannual meeting about AAS issues?

Most departments and observatories have a regular tea, wine and cheese party, pizza lunch, etc. A portion of one of these events that gathers a large fraction of the local population could be dedicated to providing information about the AAS and fielding questions. Strange as it may seem, many astronomers don’t realize that the Society owns and manages the highest-impact astronomy journals in the world, that it provides state-of-the-art conference-organizing services for topical meetings, that it hosts a variety of resources and runs programs for public education, and that it serves as a highly effective voice in Washington for advancing our field and in supporting federal investment in research and education. There are many opportunities for astronomers at all levels to become involved through AAS divisions, committees, working groups, and programs such as Astronomy Ambassadors and Communicating With Washington. A more knowledgeable and involved membership makes for a stronger and more effective Society.

Why is the AAS looking for suggestions concerning improved/new/outdated services?

The Society exists to serve its members. The Board of Trustees, a number of committees, and the Executive Office constantly evaluate the Society’s programs and think about ways to improve what we offer. However, we are far from the sole repository of good ideas; broader consultation can only be helpful.

What role would AAS Agents play in getting members to respond to action alerts?

Crucial policy issues require citizen participation. When a major policy decision is about to be made, letters, calls, and visits to Congress by astronomers in each state and district can produce large effects. Having local agents who can walk into a colleague’s office instead of hoping he or she responds to a mass email would substantially boost our effectiveness.

What do I get in return for being an AAS Agent?

First, there will be a reception at each winter AAS meeting for the Agents at which we will exchange information, collect feedback, and thank you for your efforts. Secondly, we will make available to each Agent one half-price registration discount for one AAS meeting per year for a designee of your choosing.

Where do I find the answers to questions about AAS membership?

Where do I find the answers to questions about AAS meetings?

Where do I find the answers to questions about AAS journals?

Where do I find the answers to questions about AAS governance?