Search form

Press Kit, 228th AAS Meeting, San Diego, CA, 12-16 June 2016

9 June 2016 (updated 14 June)

Dr. Rick Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
+1 202-328-2010 x116; cell: +1 857-891-5649


The latest findings from across the universe will be revealed in six press conferences at the 228th meeting (#aas228) of the American Astronomical Society, 12-16 June 2016, at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront at 1 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101. Briefings will feature celestial objects from large (galaxies) to small (molecules) and from near (exoplanets) to far (gamma-ray bursts).

With its lovely weather, sandy beaches, and major attractions, sunny San Diego is one of the world’s favorite tourist destinations. More than 600 astrophysicists and planetary scientists will present their latest research results during the week. And by mid-June thousands of blue whales begin feeding off the Southern California coast, offering a terrific opportunity to see the largest creatures on the planet.

The AAS offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and public-information officers (PIOs); see details below.

Important Preliminaries

All attendees at the meeting — including press registrants — are expected to follow the guidelines in our Guide to AAS Meeting Etiquette and our Anti-Harassment Policy for AAS & Division Meetings & Activities. Your participation in the meeting is taken to signify your acknowledgment that you have read these guidelines/policies and your agreement to adhere to them. Accordingly, please read them before you come to San Diego and adhere to them once you arrive.

AAS Meeting App & Guide

Our "Meetings by AAS" mobile app puts the entire conference program in your pocket and ensures that it's always up to date. If you're tired of carrying around a bulky program book, you'll really appreciate having this app on your smartphone or tablet.

Meetings by AAS works on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices. Users of Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices, as well as users of laptop computers, can access the app via a Web browser.

Follow these steps to download the app for your iOS or Android device; if you already have the Meetings by AAS app on your mobile device, launch it and go straight to step 4:
  1. On your smartphone or tablet, visit the Apple App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) and search for Meetings by AAS.
  2. Alternatively, use your QR reader to scan the QR code at right.
  3. Download, install, and open the app.
  4. iOS users: tap the "Download Guides" button; Android users: tap the downward-facing arrow to browse guides. Select the 228th AAS Meeting guide.
  5. Alternatively, go to and follow the instructions you'll find there.

Press Registration & Badge Pickup

The AAS offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and PIOs, as described on our press-credentials page.

Advance press registration is now closed; see our list of current press registrants. Upon arrival at the Hilton Bayfront, preregistered press should proceed to the AAS registration area. Badges may not be available before 3 pm PDT on Sunday, 12 June; please try to pick up your badge before the AAS Opening Reception (see below).

Reporters and public-information officers who need to register on-site should go to the AAS registration desk and ask for a press-registration form. You’ll be asked to take it to the AAS press office (see next section) to have the form authorized by the AAS Press Officer, after which you may return to the registration desk to print your badge.

Press Office & Quiet/Interview Room

The AAS will operate a press office in Aqua Salon A at the Hilton Bayfront with working space, telephone, photocopier, printer, power strips, and Internet connectivity for reporters. Each registered journalist and PIO will have a mailbox there to receive all press releases distributed as hard copies at the meeting (most releases will be distributed only electronically).

Press-office staff:

We will also have a quiet/interview room, Aqua 305, for use by press registrants. To reserve this room at a particular date and time, please fill out the sign-up sheet that will be posted on the door.

Briefing Schedule, Topics & Speakers

Briefings for the news media are scheduled as follows (all times are PDT = UTC - 7 hours):

Location: Aqua Salon F, which will be equipped with a sound system, mult-box, and Internet connectivity. Briefing audio, slides, and video will be available live via webcast to accredited journalists unable to attend in person; online participants will be able to ask questions of the presenters via text chat with an on-site press officer as described below.

All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation at the meeting. "Time of presentation" means the start time of the oral or poster session in which the paper will be given, or the start time of the corresponding press conference (if any), whichever comes first. See the complete AAS embargo policy for more information.

Following is the press-conference program, which is subject to change. In [square brackets] under each speaker's name is the session or paper number(s) on which their presentation is based, where applicable. Note: All new discoveries are subject to confirmation by independent teams of scientists. Inclusion here does not imply endorsement by the American Astronomical Society. The AAS does not endorse individual scientific results.

Monday, 13 June, 10:15 am PDT
Exoplanets and Brown Dwarfs

The Surface of a Limestone-Rich World?
Carl Melis (University of California, San Diego)

The First Transiting Brown Dwarf from the K2 Mission
Avi Shporer (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
The Largest & Longest-Period Kepler Transiting Circumbinary Planet
Jerome Orosz (San Diego State University)
Kepler-108: A Mutually Inclined Giant Planet System
Sean M. Mills (University of Chicago)

Monday, 13 June, 2:15 pm PDT
From Molecules to Galaxies

Low-Energy Electrons in Astrochemistry: A Tale of Two Molecules
Chris Arumainayagam (Wellesley College)
Failures No More: The Radical Consequences of Realistic Stellar Feedback
Philip F. Hopkins (Caltech)
Using Cosmic Telescopes to Study Dusty, Star-Forming Galaxies
Gregory Walth (University of California, San Diego)

Tuesday, 14 June, 10:15 am PDT
Shaking Hands and Eruptive Variables

Life’s First Handshake: Discovery of the Interstellar Chiral Molecule Propylene Oxide
Brett A. McGuire (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) & P. Brandon Carroll (Caltech)
The Evolution of FU Orionis Disks
Joel D. Green (Space Telescope Science Institute)

Tuesday, 14 June, 2:15 pm PDT
Dark Skies, Aliens, and the Multiverse

An Approach to Objectively Defining and Ranking Dark-Night Communities
Eric R. Craine (STEM Laboratory, Inc.)
A Probabilistic Analysis of the Fermi Paradox
Evan Solomonides (Cornell University)
Is Normal Science Possible in a Multiverse?
Sean Carroll (Caltech)

Wednesday, 15 June, 10:15 am PDT
Latest News from the LIGO Scientific Collaboration

Gabriela González
LIGO Scientific Collaboration Spokesperson
(Louisiana State University)

Fulvio Ricci
Virgo Spokesperson
(University of Rome Sapienza & INFN Rome)

Dave Reitze
Executive Director of LIGO

Wednesday, 15 June, 2:15 pm PDT
Black Holes and Gamma-Ray Bursts

Black Hole Binaries in Globular Clusters and the Origins of GW150914
Frederic A. Rasio (Northwestern University)
A New Way to See Inside Black Holes
Richard C. Henry (Johns Hopkins University)
Swift Gamma-Ray Bursts: A 3-D Step Toward Standard Candles
Maria Dainotti (Stanford University)

Remote Access to Press Conferences via Webcast

Journalists unable to attend the meeting in person may tune in to our briefings and the seminar for science writers streamed live on the Web. Since the webcast includes audio, video, and PowerPoint slides, you must have a broadband (high-speed) Internet connection to watch and listen. Also, your Web browser must have the free Adobe Flash plug-in.

The webcast also includes a chat window whereby remote participants may ask questions. We can’t guarantee that all questions received from webcast viewers will be asked aloud — it depends on how much time we have and how many questions we’re getting from onsite reporters.

AAS Press Conference webcasts:


  • Password: Contact AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg for the password, which is for journalists only. After the meeting, archived webcasts will be freely available publicly via our online archive.
  • Once the webcast window opens, press the Play () button.
  • Press the Open Chat Window button. You’ll be asked to enter your name; please use your real first and last names, not a cutesy Internet nickname.
  • You can resize the chat window and move it to any convenient position on your screen.
  • To ask a question, type it into the input box near the bottom of the chat window and click the Send button.

Prize Lectures, Invited Talks & Town Halls

Among the highlights of every AAS meeting are the plenary presentations (invited talks and prize lectures) by distinguished astronomers. They occur at 8:30 am, 11:40 am, 3:40 pm, and 4:30 pm each day Monday through Wednesday, all in Sapphire E at the Hilton Bayfront. AAS press conferences do not conflict with any of the plenary presentations; see the block schedule, abstract PDF, meeting app, or online meeting program (all accessible via our Science Program page) for details.

The Kavli Foundation Lecture will be given on Wednesday by Gabriela Gonzalez (Louisiana State University) on the historic detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Nine more distinguished astronomers will present prize or invited talks, including Dan Irwin (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center) on using space research to serve the world, Maura McLaughlin (West Virginia University) on fast radio bursts, Kevin Schawinski (ETH Zurich) on citizen science with Zooniverse, Jo Bovy (University of Toronto) on the large-scale structure of our galaxy as seen by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey’s APOGEE project, and Linda Spilker (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) on Saturn’s ocean moon Enceladus. Shannon Curry (University of California, Berkeley) will describe MAVEN observations of the escaping Martian atmosphere, 2015 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize winner Heather Knutson (Caltech) will present “The Elephant in the Room: Effects of Distant, Massive Companions on Planetary System Architectures,” Michael Norman (University of California, San Diego) will explore new frontiers in computational cosmology, and Dale Frail (National Radio Astronomy Observatory) will present “Things That Go Bump in the Night: The Transient Radio Sky.”

Gathering with the AAS in San Diego is its Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD), which will convene daily sessions on the theme “Bridging Laboratory and Astrophysics.” Other special sessions include “The Polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background: Current Status and Future Prospects” and “The NASA K2 Mission.” Multisession “Meetings-in-a-Meeting” will consider “The Limits of Scientific Cosmology” and “Small Telescope Research Communities of Practice.” Public-policy Town Hall meetings at lunchtime on Monday and Tuesday will feature representatives from NASA and the National Science Foundation, respectively.

Student Education & Outreach Event

On Tuesday, 14 June, more than 100 middle- and high-school students from the San Diego area will come to the AAS meeting with teacher and parent chaperones. They’ll be welcomed by astronomer Shelley Wright (University of California, San Diego) at 11:30 am in Indigo E and will then go to the Exhibit Hall (Sapphire C) from 12 noon to 2:00 pm to engage in hands-on educational activities supervised by attending astronomers. The event is sponsored by Associated Universities, Inc., and the AAS.

AAS Opening Reception & Closing Breakfast

Both of these events are open to all attendees and registered guests. Food is provided. The opening reception features a cash bar. The closing breakfast does not.

Opening Reception
Sunday, 12 June, 7:00 to 9:00 pm PDT
Sapphire Terrace
Closing Breakfast
Thursday, 16 January, 7:30 to 8:30 am PDT
Sapphire E

Press Dinner

If there’s sufficient interest, press registrants will gather on Wednesday evening for a no-host press dinner at a local restaurant. We’ll post a sign-up sheet in the AAS press office.

Press Tour (Sign Up by Monday, 13 June)

On Thursday afternoon, 16 June, AAS press registrants are invited to visit Caltech’s Palomar Observatory for a behind-the-scenes tour conducted by staff astronomers. Famous for the 200-inch (5-meter) Hale Telescope, which was the world’s largest optical reflector for several decades, Palomar remains a vibrant observatory doing cutting-edge research, developing state-of-the-art instrumentation, and training the next generation of astronomical observers. The drive between the Hilton Bayfront and Palomar takes about 2 hours (we’ll ride in one or two shared vans), so we don’t expect to return to the hotel till dinnertime or early evening. Please let AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg know by Monday, 13 June, whether you plan to join us.

AAS on Twitter

During the meeting, AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg will post announcements of interest to reporters on Twitter at @AAS_Press. Other AAS Twitter handles include @AAS_Office@AAS_Policy, and @AAS_Publishing. Journalists (and scientists) tweeting from the meeting are encouraged to use the hashtag #aas228.

AAS Press-Release-Distribution Service

If you don't already receive astronomy-related press releases forwarded by email from the AAS Press Office, you should sign up now to guarantee that you receive future meeting advisories as well as electronic copies of all press releases issued during the meeting. To sign up for the AAS press-release-distribution service, for which there is no charge, please send an email to Rick Fienberg with your name, media affiliation, mailing address, and phone, fax, and mobile numbers; if you're a journalist (not a PIO), please also state that you will respect any publication embargoes. Only accredited journalists and PIOs are eligible to receive press releases forwarded by the AAS, as described on our press-credentials page.

Thanks to Our Sponsors

The AAS is grateful to our meeting sponsors: Nature Astronomy, SBIG Imaging Systems, Associated Universities, Inc., Astro Haven Enterprises, Ball Aerospace, Spectral Instruments, Oceanside Photo & Telescope, Andor Instruments, and the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).