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1st Media Advisory, 229th AAS Meeting, Grapevine, TX, 3-7 January 2017

7 November 2016

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

The stars at night, are big and bright, deep in the heart of Texas, and that's where the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is going for its upcoming winter meeting. The 229th AAS meeting convenes at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center, 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine, TX 76051, overlooking beautiful Grapevine Lake near Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) airport. To avoid clashing with the New Year's Day holiday, this January's gathering takes place Tuesday-Saturday, 3-7 January 2017, rather than the usual Sunday-Thursday. The Gaylord Texan offers luxurious accommodations, first-class restaurants, eclectic shops, and 4.5 acres of lush indoor gardens and winding waterways. Social-media hashtag: #aas229.

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

January's AAS meeting is often called the Super Bowl of Astronomy, and with more than 2,000 astronomers expected and at least 1,500 oral and poster presentations on the program, the 229th meeting will certainly be worthy of that moniker.

Gathering with the AAS this time are its Historical Astronomy Division (HAD) and High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD)HAD hosts a special session on Tuesday afternoon celebrating its 2017 Osterbrock Book Prize for "The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers." Then, on Wednesday morning, HAD sessions continue with "Some Notes on the History of Infrared Astronomy from Above the Atmosphere."

HEAD convenes two special sessions as well. The first, on Wednesday morning, is entitled "Astronomy Across the Gravitational Wave Spectrum." The second, on Thursday afternoon, is "The Physics of the Perseus Cluster, and Other Highlights, from Hitomi," Japan's short-lived X-ray-astronomy satellite.

The Grapevine meeting offers a rich assortment of prize and invited talks by distinguished astronomers. We'll kick off Wednesday morning with the Kavli Foundation Lecture by William Bottke (Southwest Research Institute), "Early Solar System Bombardment: Exploring the Echoes of Planetary Migration and Lost Ice Giants." Laura Lopez (Ohio State University), recipient of the Annie Jump Cannon Award, will present her prize lecture on the tumultuous lives and deaths of stars. Christopher McKee (University of California, Berkeley), who is being honored for lifetime achievement, will give the Henry Norris Russell Lecture, "How Stars Form."

On Thursday morning Martin Aubé (Cégep de Sherbrook) presents "The LED Outdoor Lighting Revolution: Opportunities, Threats, and Mitigation." If Big Bang cosmology leaves you scratching your head, you'll know you're in good company when Sean Carroll (Caltech) gives his talk "What We Don't Know About the Beginning of the universe.", Sean Carroll (Caltech). Thursday afternoon features two prize lectures. Wendy Freedman (University of Chicago) gives her Dannie Heineman Prize lecture "Increasing Accuracy and Increasing Tension in the Hubble Constant," after which W. Neil Brandt (Pennsylvania State University) gives his HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize lecture, "A Good Hard Look at Growing Supermassive Black Holes in the Distant Universe."

The Sun is the star on Friday morning when Terry Forbes (University of New Hampshire) describes his work on magnetic energy release in solar flares, for which he was awarded the AAS Solar Physics Division (SPD) George Ellery Hale Prize. Karen Öberg (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) presents her Newton Lacy Pierce Prize lecture, "The Chemistry of Planet Formation," and Philip Hopkins (Caltech) gives his Helen B. Warner Prize talk, "Feedback: Now with Physics." Laura Fissel (Northwestern University) will float plenty of new ideas in her talk "Astronomy from the Upper Stratosphere: Key Discoveries and New Opportunities from High Altitude Scientific Balloons."

You'll definitely want to stick around for the final day's plenary lectures, which begin with "Exploring for Galaxies in the First Billion Years with Hubble and Spitzer — Pathfinding for the James Webb Space Telescope" by Garth Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz), recipient of the Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize. Alien hunter Jill Tarter (SETI Institute) presents "The 21st Century: The Century of Biology on Earth and Beyond," and Alex Young (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) discusses NASA's plans for the American astronomical highlight of 2017: the August 21st coast-to-coast total solar eclipse. Megan Donahue (Michigan State University) gives the final scientific talk of the meeting, "How Supermassive Black Hole Feedback Might Work."

In addition to the plenaries and the contributed oral and poster presentations, the Grapevine program offers numerous Town Hall meetings on astronomy and public policy, featuring representatives from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope. These occur during the lunch break or in the early evening so as not to conflict with science presentations. There will also be a Town Hall session on Astro2020, the next decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics, as well as a special plenary Town Hall on Wednesday afternoon to discuss racism in astronomy.

Complimentary Press Registration

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

To request complimentary press registration, send an email message to AAS Press Officer Dr. Rick Fienberg with your name and media affiliation (or "freelance" if applicable). Upon confirming your eligibility, he'll send you the URL of an online registration form and the required press-registration code. Although press registration will be available on site at the meeting, we strongly advise you register in advance to avoid lines at the registration booth. Please send your email request to as soon as you know you're coming to the meeting.

Press Arrangements

The AAS will operate a press office in Fort Worth 3 at the Gaylord Texan, with working space, photocopier, printer, power strips, and wireless internet connectivity for press registrants. We will also have an interview room, Pecos 2, for use by press registrants; there will be a sign-up sheet on the door so that you can reserve this room for use at a particular date and time.

We expect to hold press conferences each morning and afternoon, Wednesday, 4 January, through Saturday, 7 January; the briefing room, Austin 5, will be equipped with a sound system, mult-box, and wireless 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. The press-conference program and instructions for connecting to the webcast will appear in subsequent advisories.

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.