AAS Topical Conference Series (AASTCS)

The goal of the AASTCS (pronounced like “Aztecs") is to organize up to three topical conferences of significant interest to the astronomical community each year through a competitive proposal process. The AAS Topical Conference Series supports the mission of the AAS to enhance and share humanity’s understanding of the universe and is an important part of the Society’s convening role.

There is a significant advantage to conference organizers using the expert AAS meeting team for topical conferences. Proposers do not need to concern themselves with contracts, logistical details, or meeting location selection. The AAS handles all of these details in addition to meeting registration, web promotion, and all other organizational details. Proposers need only arrange for the scientific content of their conference. Also, the AAS carries the full financial risk for the meetings and therefore decides on the registration fees and other costs based on the proposer’s requirements. If the proposer can help identify external funding, either through grants or sponsorship, registration fees can be proportionately reduced.

Submit Your AASTCS Proposal

Deadlines

AASTCS proposals are accepted and reviewed four times a year by the AAS Vice-Presidents on a quarterly basis: 1 February, 1 May, 1 August, and 1 November. Organizers will be notified if their AASTCS proposal has been selected one month after the respective due date. Proposals should plan for their meeting to be held no sooner than two years from submission. The AAS needs this time to successfully plan a conference; if you propose for two years or less from submission, then you may be very restricted in choice of dates and venue.

Details

  • Proposals from all areas of the astronomical sciences are welcome.
  • Proposals should be submitted online here. Late proposals will be considered on an individual basis with justification for their delayed submission.
  • The AAS Vice-Presidents will select the most scientifically interesting meetings from the submitted proposals.
  • For logistical reasons, no more than three can be selected per year. Your proposed meeting is more likely to be selected if you are flexible on dates and venue. Spring and early summer are the most popular dates for AASTC meetings.
  • The AAS Executive Office will organize all logistical and financial aspects of the meeting. Meeting organizers have great flexibility in designing the scientific program, but must follow the general meeting policies of the Society, including that the distribution of invited speakers represent the broad demographics of the Society membership and embracing both the AAS Code of Ethics and Anti-Harassment policies, which are in force for all AAS meetings.
  • The AASTCS differs from the “Meeting-in-a-Meeting” format provided at AAS summer meetings in several ways. First, the meeting will be held alone, providing a highly concentrated experience for attendees as opposed to a topical session contained within a regular AAS meeting. Additionally, the length of the meeting is longer (AASTCS meetings are expected to be 4 or 5 days in length), again, providing ample time for enhanced interaction and discussion. Also, the format is completely open (within the physical constraints of the meeting venue), allowing creative use of the time to enhance the scientific impact of the meeting.
  • Attendance at AASTCS meetings is open to all; there is no requirement to be an AAS member.
  • Proposers may suggest possible meeting locations for their conference. The AAS will review the proposed meeting location for logistical issues and may recommend a change in the location to enable a successful conference. The Society retains the right to select the actual location for the conference.
  • Organizers should not undertake any negotiations with possible meeting venues prior to or after proposing. The AAS will handle all contractual issues and negotiations.
  • The AAS strongly prefers organizing AASTCS conferences only in the US and its nearby territory, Puerto Rico. Other locations will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
  • Although we expect most AASTCS to be in-person meetings, proposers may opt for a fully virtual format. In general, hybrid conferences are not feasible due to the substantial fixed costs for both types of meeting, which must be borne by the same number of attendees. Hybrid meetings are really the organization of both an in-person and a virtual conference simultaneously and carry substantial additional costs. That said, some virtual content can be made available, for example, a subset of the key plenary talks.

Key Elements of an AAS Topical Conference Series Proposal

  • A clearly identified scientific organizing committee (SOC) with full contact information for all members and identifying a single contact on the SOC who will serve as the primary contact to the AAS Executive Office for planning purposes.
  • Concise, clear, and motivating justification for the topical conference series sufficient to: a) explain in detail the topical focus of the meeting; b) establish the conference topic as frontier or cutting-edge science of great importance to one (or more) of the disciplines represented within the AAS; c) explain, in detail, the proposed meeting flow and structure along with any additional requirements (such as posters or evening sessions); d) list, if possible, either the planned invited speakers or the procedure that will be used to identify the invited speakers for the meeting; it will strengthen a proposal if the speakers are identified and if at least some of them have agreed to speak if the meeting is approved.
  • If your proposed meeting is one of a series, or there has been a recent meeting or workshop on a closely-related topic, you should explain the need for yours and its timing relative to the prior meeting. Please provide the scope and attendance numbers for that meeting. Explanation of any matching funds available or attainable to help subsidize the conference registration fee.
  • A plan, with a timeline, for organizing the scientific content of the meeting. Note that AAS provides flexible abstract services, and will handle all logistical and financial issues.

Comments from Past Topical Conference Organizers

"I wanted to thank you all again for the splendid job you did organizing the meeting for us. The conference was a huge success and this couldn't have happened without your dedication to every detail. I do not recall ever attending a meeting of this size where absolutely everything went so smoothly and perfectly. I very much hope we can do it again together for ExSS IV."

 Fred Rasio, ExSS III Organizer

"Our truly special thanks go to the AAS staff for the enormous (though often invisible) contribution to organizing and running our two conferences [IAU Symposium 261 and DDA 2009]. They were both successful, scientifically and financially. Thank you!"

— Michael Efroimsky, DDA Past Chair

Questions or to Submit Your Proposal

Send email to aastcs@aas.org