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Press Kit, 232nd AAS Meeting, Denver, CO, 3-7 June 2018

AAS 232 Logo3 June 2018 (updated 6 June)

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


More than 700 scientists, educators, journalists, and others from around the world are gathering in the Mile High City for the 232nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), 3 to 7 June 2018, at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, 1550 Court Place, Denver, CO 80202. The hotel sits in the heart of the city’s financial and business district on a mile-long pedestrian promenade filled with outdoor bistros, shopping, and entertainment. 

Five press conferences are on the program, featuring new findings on everything from the Sun to the edge of the visible universe based on observations with ground-based, airborne, and space-based telescopes as well as the latest theoretical ideas and models. The AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) will hold its annual meeting in conjunction with the 232nd AAS meeting, with daily oral and poster sessions on the theme “Bridging Laboratory and Astrophysics,” covering the interplay between laboratory astrophysics and other fields in astronomy, planetary science, and related sciences. 

The AAS offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists and public-information officers (PIOs); see details below. Social-media hashtag: #aas232.

Meeting links:

Important Preliminaries

All attendees at the meeting — including press registrants — are expected to follow our Guide to AAS Meeting Etiquette and 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 Denver and abide by 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 iOS 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.

QR Code for AAS Meetings AppFollow 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 232nd AAS Meeting guide.
  5. Alternatively, go to and follow the instructions you 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 Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, preregistered press should proceed to the AAS registration area in the Plaza Foyer on the concourse level. Badges won’t be available before 1 pm MDT on Sunday, 3 June; please try to pick up your badge before the AAS Opening Reception, which begins at 7 pm Sunday evening in Plaza Ballroom F.

Reporters and public-information officers who need to register on-site should go to the AAS registration desk in the in the Plaza Foyer on the concourse level and ask for an on-site 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 Facilities

The AAS will operate a press office in Director's Row J at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, with working space, photocopier, printer, power strips, and wireless internet connectivity for press registrants. Note that Director's Row is past the guest elevators on the Lobby Level, one floor up from the Concourse Level where the science sessions and Exhibit Hall are located.

Press-office staff:

Press conferences (see next section) will be held in Director's Row I, which will be equipped with a sound system, mult-box, and wireless internet connectivity.

We will also have a press interview room, Director's Row G, 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 specific dates and times.

Briefing Schedule, Topics & Speakers

Following is the press-conference program. Briefings are scheduled as follows (all times are MDT = UTC − 6 hours):

There is only one briefing on Monday, and there are no briefings on Thursday. 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 (see below).

In [square brackets] under the speakers' names are the paper numbers on which their presentations are based. These link to the corresponding abstracts in the web version of the mobile app.

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.

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.

Added 4 June 2018: Some presentation titles now link to the speakers' presentation files (PDF or PPT); additional links will be added as the week progresses. These files are provided for personal use only. If you wish to publish or otherwise reproduce any of the content in these files, you must obtain permission from the presenters — otherwise you may be in violation of copyright law. If you need help contacting a presenter, email AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg.

Monday, 4 June, 11:00 am
Minor Planets, Dwarf Planets & Exoplanets

On the Detachment of Massive Trans-Neptunian Objects
Jacob Fleisig & Ann-Marie Madigan (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder)
[123.04] | Press Release
LOFAR Searches for Radio Exoplanets
Jake Turner (Univ. of Virginia)
[303.05] | Press Release
Stability of Planetary Orbits in Triple Star Systems
Franco Busetti (Univ. of the Witwatersrand, South Africa)
[111.01] | Press Release

Monday, 4 June, 3:00 pm
NO BRIEFING (Use your free time to attend regular oral sessions!)

Tuesday, 5 June, 11:00 am
Stars That Make You Say "WTF?"

Multiband Lightcurve of Tabby’s Star: Observations & Modeling
Yao Yin & Alejandro Wilcox (The Thacher School)
[325.04] | Press Release (PDF)

The Transiting Dust of Boyajian's Star
Eva Bodman (Arizona State Univ.)
[315.06] | No Press Release

Epsilon Aurigae: Brightest Member of a New Class of “Disk-Eclipsed” Binary Stars
Robert Stencel & Justus Gibson (Univ. of Denver)
[315.01 & 315.02] | Press Release (PDF)

Tuesday, 5 June, 3:00 pm
Metal-Poor Stars, Dwarf Galaxies & a Cosmic Conundrum

Fingerprints of the First Stars: CEMP-no Stars in the Halo of the Milky Way
Timothy Beers (Univ. of Notre Dame)
[114.05] | Press Release

Using Very Pristine Stars to Study Dwarf Galaxies & the Galactic Stellar Halo
Kris Youakim (Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics, Germany)
[106.03] | Press Release (PDF)

Collisions of Dead Stars Spray Heavy Elements Throughout Small Galaxies
Gina Duggan (California Institute of Technology)
[205.04] | Press Release
Near-Field Cosmology with Low-Mass Galaxies & Insight into the First Stars
Aparna Venkatesan (Univ. of San Francisco)
[102.05 & 114.04] | Press Release

Probing Gravity Theory & Cosmic Acceleration by Testing Multiple Data Sets
Mustapha Ishak-Boushaki (Univ. of Texas, Dallas)
[102.02] | Press Release

Wednesday, 6 June, 11:00 am
Erupting Stars & Dissolving Stars

Configuration of & Motions in the Solar Corona at the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
Jay Pasachoff (Williams College & Carnegie Observatories)
[325.10] | Press Release
Chandra Scouts Nearest Star System for Possible Hazards
Thomas Ayres (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder)
[317.14] | Press Release
Candidates for Stellar Coronal Mass Ejections
Sofia Moschou (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
[111.04] | No Press Release
Signatures of Dissolving Globular Cluster Stars
Andrea Kunder (Saint Martin's Univ.)
[114.03] | Press Release

Wednesday, 6 June, 3:00 pm
The Milky Way & Active Galactic Nuclei

Shocked Molecular Gas & the Origin of Cosmic Rays
William Reach (SOFIA / Universities Space Research Association)
[203.03] | No Press Release
Estimating the Mass of the Milky Way Using Satellite Galaxies
Ekta Patel (Univ. of Arizona)
[402.03] | Press Release
More Mystery Objects Detected Near the Milky Way's Supermassive Black Hole
Randall Campbell (W. M. Keck Observatory) & Anna Ciurlo (Univ. of California, Los Angeles)
[402.05] | Press Release
Discovering Galaxy Mergers Using Offset Quasars
Scott Barrows (Univ. of Colorado, Boulder)
[401.04] | Press Release

Thursday, 7 June, 11:00 am
NO BRIEFING (Use your free time to attend regular oral sessions!)

Remote Access to Press Conferences

Journalists (and anyone else) unable to attend the meeting in person may tune in to our briefings streamed live on the Web. Since the webcast includes audio, video, and PowerPoint/Keynote 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 journalists (only) may ask questions. We can’t guarantee that all questions received from off-site reporters will be asked aloud — it depends on how much time we have and how many questions we’re getting from on-site reporters.

Press Conference Webcasts:


  • Press the Play (►) button in the video window to launch the webcast. The stream won't be live until shortly before the briefing's published start time.
  • You do not need a password to watch the webcast, but you do need a password if you want to ask questions. The password, which is the same for all the week's briefings, is available only to bona fide journalists. Contact AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg in advance. If you wait till the last minute to request the password, you have little hope of receiving it in time.
  • Enter the password in the input box beneath the video window.
  • 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. If we don't recognize you, we won't forward your questions to the briefing panelists.
  • 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.
  • After the meeting, archived webcasts will be freely available (without a password) via our online archive.

Opening & Closing Receptions

Both of these events are open to all attendees and registered guests. Food is provided. Both receptions feature a cash bar.

Sunday, 3 June, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
AAS Opening Reception
Plaza Ballroom F

Thursday, 7 June, 1:10 pm to 1:40 pm
AAS Closing Reception
Plaza Ballroom F

Prize Lectures & Invited Talks

Among the highlights of every AAS meeting are plenary lectures by recent AAS prize winners and other distinguished astronomers. Prize lectures and invited talks shine a spotlight on the most exciting areas of current astronomical research and feature insights from some of the sharpest minds working to deepen our understanding of the universe. All of the following plenary presentations occur in Plaza Ballroom E.

Monday, 3 June

8:10 am to 8:30 am
Welcome Address by the AAS President
Christine Jones (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

8:30 am to 9:20 am
Kavli Foundation Lecture: From Extrasolar Planets to Exo-Earths
Debra Fischer (Yale University)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
Heavy Element Synthesis in the Universe
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz (University of California Observatories)

4:30 pm to 5:20 pm
The Relationship Between Galaxies and the Large-Scale Structure of the Universe
Alison Coil (University of California, San Diego)

Tuesday, 4 June

8:30 am to 9:20 am
LAD Plenary Lecture: Small Interstellar Molecules and What They Tell Us
David Neufeld (Johns Hopkins University)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
The Dynamics of the Local Group in the Era of Precision Astrometry
Gurtina Besla (University of Arizona)

4:30 pm to 5:20 pm
An Era of Precision Astrophysics for Exoplanets, Stars, and the Milky Way
Keivan Stassun (Vanderbilt University)

Wednesday, 5 June

8:30 am to 9:20 am
George Ellery Hale Prize Lecture: Amazing Journeys to the Hearts of Stars
Sarbani Basu (Yale University)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
Supermassive Black Hole Fueling and Feedback in Galaxies
Julie Comerford (University of Colorado, Boulder)

4:30 pm to 5:20 pm
Status of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope: Unraveling the Mysteries the Sun
Valentin Martinez Pillet (National Solar Observatory)

Thursday, 6 June

8:30 am to 9:20 pm
Newton Lacy Pierce Prize Lecture: Dwarf Galaxies: Laboratories for Nucleosynthesis & Chemical Evolution
Evan Kirby (Caltech)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
Gaia: Mapping the Milky Way: The Scientific Promise of Gaia Data Release 2
Nicholas Walton (Cambridge University)

Town Halls

Town Halls enable federal agencies and national observatories to present policy information and solicit feedback from their user communities. They are held at midday and/or in the evening and provide excellent opportunities for journalists to ask questions of officials representing federal funding agencies and current and future national observatories.

Monday, 4 June

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
NASA Town Hall
Plaza Ballroom E

6:40 pm to 7:40 pm
The Promise of Multimessenger Astrophysics Town Hall
Plaza Ballroom E

Tuesday, 5 June

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
National Science Foundation (NSF) Town Hall
Plaza Ballroom E

Wednesday, 6 June

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
National Solar Observatory (NSO) Town Hall
Plaza Court 4

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Town Hall
Plaza Ballroom E

Open House at Chamberlin Observatory, Monday, 4 June

The University of Denver's historic Chamberlin Observatory will hold an open house for AAS-meeting attendees on Monday evening, 4 June, from 9:00 pm to 10:30 pm. Chamberlin houses a vintage 1894 20-inch f/15 Clark-Saegmuller refractor. Weather permitting, visitors will be treated to telescopic views of Jupiter through this impressive instrument.

The observatory is located about 6 miles south-southeast of the Sheraton at 2930 E. Warren Ave., Denver. Maps and directions will be available during the evening poster session (5:30 pm to 6:30 pm in the Plaza Foyer); look for Robert Stencel at poster 117.01, "Centenary of the 1918 Total Solar Eclipse Across Denver." As the title of that poster suggests, Chamberlin was in the path of totality for the coast-to-coast solar eclipse of 8 June 1918, during which astronomers attempted to confirm Einstein's prediction that the positions of stars near the Sun's limb would appear displaced slightly by the relativistic curvature of spacetime. To learn what happened, see Stencel's poster!

MESO Urban Star Party, Tuesday, 5 June

Exhibiting with the AAS for the first time in Denver is the Mobile Earth + Space Observatory. MESO is a celestial observatory and science center on wheels to engage and excite students, teachers, and local residents with hands-on educational and research activities focused on Earth and space sciences, renewable energy, and scientific instrumentation. Join MESO's crew for an urban star party on Tuesday, 5 June, from 4:00 pm to 11:00 pm in Denver's Civic Center Park, located two blocks south of the Sheraton, just west of the Colorado State Capitol.

Press Dinner, Wednesday, 6 June

Press registrants are invited to a no-host press dinner at La Loma: A Mexican Kitchen on Wednesday evening, 6 June, at 7:30 pm, after the AAS Members' Meeting. The restaurant, just two blocks northeast of the Sheraton, needs a head count on Monday afternoon, 4 June. Accordingly, please add your name to the sign-up sheet in the AAS Press Office (Director's Row J) or email your RSVP to AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg as soon as possible, but in any case no later than midday Monday.

Astronomy on Tap, Wednesday, 6 June

If you're not attending the press dinner, here's another option for Wednesday evening: Astronomy on Tap Colorado is putting on a special AAS 232 program at Woods Boss Brewing Company from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. The brewery is located about a 15-minute walk northeast of the Sheraton at 2210 California St., Denver. There will be several food trucks in the vicinity. (Note: This is not an official AAS event. For more information about Astronomy on Tap, see the AoT website.)

Press Tour to Lockheed Martin, Thursday, 7 June

On Thursday afternoon, 7 June, a small group of press registrants will visit Lockheed Martin's Littleton facility, where NASA’s Mars InSight lander was built and where flight operations for the mission are being controlled as the spacecraft cruises to the Red Planet following its successful May 5th launch. It is now too late to sign up for the tour. Confirmed participants: let's rendezvous in the Sheraton lobby at 2:00 pm and divide up into the two personal cars that are available to take us to Littleton. The tour begins at 3:00 pm and should conclude by 5:00 pm.

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, @AAS_Publishing, and @AASNova. Journalists (and scientists) tweeting from the meeting are encouraged to use the hashtag #aas232.

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 fill out and submit the form you'll find linked from our Join the AAS Press List page. With few exceptions, only accredited journalists and PIOs are eligible to receive press releases forwarded by the AAS, as described on our press-credentials page.