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Joel R. Parriott
Deputy Executive Officer and Director of Public Policy
American Astronomical Society (AAS)

Thanks to the AAS Council’s decision to augment the policy function in the Executive Office, we are now two people strong! I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to the fifth John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow: Dr. Joshua (Josh) Shiode.

Josh joined us in late August and has been quickly climbing a steep learning curve ever since. He comes to Washington by way of Boston University, for his undergraduate studies, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he recently finished his Ph.D. studying the unstable evolution of massive stars with Prof. Eliot Quataert.

As he detailed in his initial blog post at the AAS Policy blog (a communication space he hopes to populate heavily during his tenure), Josh began his journey toward a non-academic career over the last few years of his graduate work. At Berkeley he explored his interests in teaching and communicating science to a broad audience and worked alongside many of his peers to try to improve the undergraduate and graduate experiences at the university. Josh worked on what he now knows to call stakeholder engagement (among other things) as a program coordinator for the Berkeley Compass Project, and he developed his writing skills for broad audiences as an author and editor for The Berkeley Science Review. He is excited to bring his passion for communicating science effectively to the AAS Executive Office.

Much of our advocacy work is by its very nature reactive; nevertheless, Josh plans to devote some proactive energy toward as many avenues as possible during his fellowship. In particular, he hopes to convey the importance and complexity of science policy to the astronomical community, engage those interested in advocacy, and work to broaden graduate education in the astronomical sciences to include the ever more diverse set of rewarding career paths that graduates seek.

Given the general dysfunction in Washington these days, we will certainly benefit from Josh’s energy and enthusiasm. He hopes to share his developing knowledge of the workings of science policy at the AAS Policy blog. He and I encourage you to send him suggestions for topics and provide feedback on his posts; the blog is fully intended to be a community resource. Josh also tweets from events around DC on a regular basis, so if that’s your cup of tea, please follow him @AAS_Policy.

And if you’re going to be at the 223rd AAS meeting in DC in a couple of weeks, please stop by the AAS booth in the exhibit hall to chat with Josh and/or me.

Faye Peterson
Former Membership Services Manager
American Astronomical Society

The new year is just around the corner, and that means time is running out on the two special offers we're making available to AAS members during this year's renewal season.

You have only until 31 December 2013 to renew for two years at the 2014 rate, locking in the 2014 rate for 2015 too. This applies not only to your basic AAS membership but also to your division memberships. (Note: This offer is not available to junior members; instead, junior members get a two-years-for-the-price-of-one special rate when first joining the Society.)

Bonus: If you renew by 31 December you'll also receive a 15% discount off your portion of the author charges for one paper in the Astrophysical Journal, ApJ Letters, ApJ Supplement, or the Astronomical Journal for 2014. (Note: This offer is available to all members, including junior members.)

Best of all, if you're eligible for both benefits, you can combine them: If you pay your 2015 dues by 31 December 2013, you'll receive the 15% author-charge discount in 2015 as well!

Paper renewal notices were mailed a couple of weeks ago to all members who hadn’t yet renewed. If you haven’t received yours by now, we may not have your current address. Please check your member profile; if it isn’t correct, please update it and email our membership department to let us know if you’ll renew online (which helps keep everyone’s costs down) or if you’d prefer that we mail you a paper renewal form.

On a related note, you still have time to make a year-end donation to support your favorite AAS programs. The AAS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, so contributions from U.S. citizens are tax deductible. Receipts for tax purposes will be mailed in January 2014.

Since this is the time of year for making lists and checking them twice, here’s your year-end checklist:

  1. Renew my AAS membership
  2. Make a tax-deductible contribution to the AAS

Thanks, happy holidays, and all best wishes for the coming year!

Kevin B. Marvel
Executive Officer
American Astronomical Society


AAS meetings are the largest and most logistically complex astronomy meetings in the world. We ask all attendees to work together to enhance the value of the meetings by keeping in mind the following points.

Executive Summary

  • Do wear your AAS identification badge at all times during the meeting.
  • Do obey the “golden rule,” i.e., treat others as you would have them treat you.
  • Do not hog wireless bandwidth; use the AAS wireless service sparingly.
  • Do be quiet during presentations; use computers and mobile devices discreetly.
  • Do silence all cell phones and other electronic devices with audible alerts.
  • Do not blog, tweet, or otherwise post private conversations online.
  • Do not panic if reporters attend your talk on results under journal embargo.
  • Do pick up after yourself by depositing trash in the appropriate receptacles.

General Considerations

Meetings of the American Astronomical Society are not public events. All attendees must register at the applicable rate; registration types are structured to cover all situations. The only exceptions involve sessions or other activities specifically noted as being open to the public, such as public talks or star parties held in collaboration with local amateur astronomers.

Identification badges must be worn at all times during the meeting. These badges help meeting attendees, AAS staff, and security personnel identify registered participants. Attendees not wearing their name badges will be denied entrance to session rooms, the exhibit hall, and other meeting venues. If you lose your name badge, visit the AAS registration desk to obtain a new one. Note that the design of AAS meeting badges changes regularly to prevent the inappropriate reuse of old badges.

Attendance at AAS meetings is not a right but a privilege, and attendees are expected to behave professionally. The AAS is committed to providing an atmosphere that encourages the free expression and exchange of scientific ideas. The AAS is further dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment for all members and other meeting attendees, regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, religion, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities, or any other reason not related to scientific merit. It is AAS policy that all participants in Society activities will enjoy an environment free from all forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, is a form of misconduct that undermines the integrity of Society meetings. Violators will be subject to discipline. (Read the full AAS anti-harassment policy.)

AAS-meeting staff are trained professionals, expert at organizing and conducting scientific meetings. They work with professional contractors who specialize in providing audio-visual and other services, and with professional hotel and convention-center staff as well. The AAS retains security services, sometimes through the meeting venue and sometimes privately, to ensure the safety and security of all meeting attendees and exhibitors. Help us ensure a safe, secure, and professional environment by acting appropriately, reporting inappropriate behavior, and paying attention to those around you and your environment.

Attendees who are notably disrespectful or who act in an unprofessional manner toward meeting staff, contractors, other attendees, or hotel or convention-center staff will be required to leave the meeting and may have their registration rescinded without refund. In extreme cases, the AAS may call law-enforcement authorities and/or pursue legal action.

Note that all sessions except those marked “private” by the AAS are open to all registered attendees, including scientists, educators, students, journalists, and guests. All are due the same level of professional respect and courtesy. Only with your help can we ensure the most productive scientific conference.

Computers & Internet Service

The AAS provides wireless Internet service throughout each meeting, but we cannot guarantee full coverage in all locations. We provide priority access in common areas, such as the Exhibit Hall, and in session rooms. This means you may experience limited connectivity in other areas. Wireless access information is printed on the back of your meeting badge. Please note that the wireless service is not encrypted.

If you do make use of wireless Internet access during a presentation, or even if you are just taking notes on your computer, please keep your activities as quiet as possible so as to minimize distractions to other attendees and the speaker. If you must use a computer during a session, please consider sitting near the back of the room so as not to distract the speaker or session chair. These same guidelines apply to mobile phones, tablets, and other electronic devices.

One of the cost drivers for meeting registration is provision of adequate bandwidth, which — believe it or not — costs tens of thousands of dollars per meeting. Excessive downloading or uploading of files, software updates, streaming video, and other bandwidth-hungry activities (e.g., gaming, exploring virtual worlds) increases the costs for all attendees. The AAS reserves the right to ban excessive users from its meeting network and to use site blocking, port blocking, and traffic shaping to ensure adequate bandwidth for all.

AAS staff monitor the network throughout the meeting and reserve the right to disconnect any device that is causing network problems or harm to other devices.

In addition to the foregoing, please follow these guidelines:

  • Keep your software up to date and use a firewall and virus/spyware protection when necessary.
  • No device should be running as a server for off-site clients.
  • Absolutely no routers may be attached to the network without prior authorization from the AAS IT staff.
  • Due to FCC regulations and physical laws, some of the available wireless spectrum can become overcrowded and temporarily unusable, which limits connectivity and download/upload speeds. We work hard to avoid this without breaking the laws set by the government or physics.
  • Wireless connections will be dropped after 40 minutes of inactivity.

Mobile Phones & Related Devices

Cell phones, tablets, pagers, and similar electronic devices should be silenced. Before each session begins and before you enter an active session, please silence your cell phone and any other devices that have audible alerts. Switching phones to vibrate rather than ring is not sufficient, as the vibrations can be heard or felt by those nearby.

Do not dial or take a phone call during a session. Please exit the session room before beginning or answering a call. All modern mobile phones have caller-ID and call-back features — please make use of them.

Blogging & Tweeting

If you blog, tweet, or otherwise post near-real-time material from the meeting online, you must follow the guidelines above concerning the use of computers, tablets, mobile phones, and AAS wireless bandwidth.

Please do not publicly report private conversations — only scheduled presentations and public comments are fair game for blogging, tweeting, etc.

Remember that many presentations at AAS meetings concern work that has not yet been peer-reviewed. So think twice before posting a blog entry or tweet that is critical of such work. It is helpful to receive constructive criticism during the Q&A after your talk or while standing next to your poster, but it is hurtful to be raked over the coals online before your session is even over and with no easy way to respond.

New York Times editor Bill Keller said it well. When it comes to meetings among colleagues, he explained, “We need a zone of trust, where people can say what is on their minds without fear of having an unscripted remark or a partially baked idea zapped into cyberspace. Think of it as common courtesy.”

Sessions & Questions

If you are giving a presentation, please be sure you have read our speaker and AV instructions. All oral presentations must be uploaded to the internal network in the Speaker Ready Room. Personal laptops and USB drives will not be permitted for presentations in session rooms. We ask that you upload your presentation at least 24 hours in advance. Be sure to show up at your session on time.

The session chair is in charge of the session. He or she is empowered to stop questioning and to rearrange or otherwise adjust time slots (or not) based on tardiness or non-attendance of a scheduled speaker. The chair cannot extend talk times beyond the common limits of 10 minutes for regular contributions and 20 minutes for dissertation contributions (including time allotted for Q&A).

When asking questions of speakers please be professional, courteous, and polite. This is especially important when questioning students presenting their dissertation research.

Be considerate of other people wishing to ask questions. If you have multiple or detailed questions, speak with the presenter after the session.

Journalists & Embargoes

If your presentation covers results that have been, or will be, submitted to Nature or Science or any other journal with a strict embargo policy, be sure you understand how that policy applies to scientific meetings. No journal wishes to hinder communication between scientists. For example, both Science and Nature state explicitly that conference presentations do not violate their embargo policies.

Both journals also state that if your presentation covers work that has been, or will be, submitted to them, you should limit your interaction with reporters to clarifying the specifics of your presentation. As Science puts it, “We ask that you do not expand beyond the content of your talk or give copies of the paper, data, overheads, or slides to reporters.” That does not mean you should be rude if a reporter asks you for such materials or poses a question that you do not want to answer — just explain that your results are under embargo at Science or Nature, and the reporter will understand why you cannot be more forthcoming. (Read the full embargo policy for AAS meetings.)

Photography & Video

Many events and presentations at AAS meetings are recorded for posterity by a Society photographer. Some sessions, and all press conferences, are videotaped and eventually posted on the AAS members website as a member benefit. Your attendance at an AAS meeting signifies your agreement to be photographed or videotaped in the course of normal meeting business. Invited and prize lecturers will be asked to sign a form for legal clarity.

If you take pictures during the meeting, please be considerate of others. Do not use a flash when taking pictures during sessions.

Eating, Drinking & Smoking

Because our meetings are so full of great content, it can be hard to find time to eat breakfast or lunch. If you must eat or drink while attending a session, please do so quietly and be sure to deposit your trash properly after the session ends. Additional cleaning services cost the AAS money and increase registration costs.

Some venues have strict policies against eating or drinking in particular areas. Meeting attendees are expected to follow these policies. Attendees may not bring their own alcoholic beverages or drink them at the meeting venue outside of areas or times when they are sold. Obviously this does not apply to bars, restaurants, or other facilities co-located with our meeting venues.

AAS meetings are strictly non-smoking, consistent with laws in the localities where we hold our conferences. When possible, smoking areas will be clearly identified.

Activities Other than Official AAS Events

Social interactions that occur outside of official AAS activities are not sponsored by the AAS and should not be considered AAS activities. AAS’s business and social programs and activities are limited to those that are planned and officially publicized through the AAS, and the AAS is not responsible for any other activities that may take place before or after such programs and activities. Participation in any such outside activities is purely voluntary. Any such outside gatherings or events are solely the responsibility of those who decide to participate in them.

If you choose to attend any outside gathering or participate in any such non-AAS-sponsored activity, however, please be mindful that as AAS members you are still expected to uphold the same standards of personal conduct with respect to fellow members as you would at an AAS-sponsored program or activity. Please also be extremely mindful of your own safety as well as that of your colleagues at all times: if you choose to use alcohol, do so only in moderation, and keep the safety and behavior of yourself and your colleagues uppermost in your mind.

Chryssa Kouveliotou
Full Professor
George Washington University

Dear Colleagues, 

In early 2013 the Astrophysics Subcommittee (APS) of the NASA Advisory Council/Science Committee commissioned a task force to develop a vision for NASA’s Astrophysics Division spanning the next three decades. The charter given to this team was to produce a compelling long-term vision for space astrophysics building upon the baseline given in the recent decadal survey New Worlds, New Horizons.

The Roadmap Task Force report is now completed and posted online at

Chryssa Kouveliotou, Chair
On behalf of the Roadmap Task Force

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

As part of its celebration of the 50th anniversary of its founding, in 2008 the Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Research Council (NRC) expanded the scope of the Space Policy Intern program it has operated since 1992 by initiating the Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships. The goal of the internships is to provide promising students with the opportunity to work in the area of civil space research policy in the nation's capital, under the aegis of the SSB. The internships are offered twice annually.

Interns typically undertake one or more short-term research projects designed to assist with or to enhance ongoing study projects. The projects undertaken by the SSB standing committees and ad hoc task groups are in constant flux, with studies being completed and new studies beginning on a regular basis. Although this makes it difficult to predict just what the interns will get to work on, it also ensures their exposure to the different stages of the study process — from project initiation, through the committee process, to the final publication of committee reports — as several studies are being undertaken simultaneously.

The summer 2014 program is open to undergraduates (only). The deadline for applications is 7 February 2014, and selections will be made by 7 March. Additional information about the program, including the application procedure, can be found on the Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internships webpage. There you can also learn about the autumn 2014 program, which will accept both undergraduates and graduate students.