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Scientific Program

Sunday  |  Monday  |  Tuesday  |  Wednesday  |  Thursday

This schedule is subject to change. The block schedule is now available; and the contributed abstract schedule can be accessed online.


Special Session

  • HAD I – The Spitzer Observatory: The evolution of a space mission from initial idea, through years of competition and debate, followed by arduous solution of technical problems before launch and the acquisition of novel astronomical data.


Plenary and Prize Talks

  • Welcome Address – AAS President Megan Donahue (Michigan State University)
  • Kavli Foundation Lecture: A Color Out of Space: ‘Oumuamua’s Brief and Mysterious Visit to the Solar System – Gregory Laughlin (Yale University) with Ka'iu Kimura (‘Imiloa Center)
  • Dannie Heineman Prize Lecture: The Dawn of Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics – Vicky Kalogera (Northwestern University)
  • “Make No Small Plans” (George Ellery Hale, 1868-1938) – David DeVorkin (Smithsonian Institution)
  • Newton Lacy Pierce Prize Lecture: The Obscured Early Universe – Caitlin Casey (University of Texas, Austin)

Special Sessions

  • The Landscape of Next-Generation Gravitational Wave Observatories
  • Beyond Photons: Astronomy in the Era of Multi-Messengers
  • Cosmology and Astrophysics with Next Generation Cosmic Microwave Background Experiments
  • Know Your Power: Understanding the Distribution of Power throughout the Academic Ecosystem
  • Machine Learning in Astronomical Data Analysis
  • The Role of Magnetic Fields and Filaments in Star Formation

Regular Sessions

  • HAD II, III & IV 

Town Halls

  • NASA Town Hall: Senior representatives from NASA's Science Mission Directorate and Astrophysics Division will discuss NASA's science program and outlook. Topics will include highlights of operating missions, progress of missions in development and implementation, NASA's planning for the 2020 Decadal Survey, the status of the research program, and anticipated opportunities for both non-flight basic research awards (grants) and flight mission investigations.

  • Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Town Hall: The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) serves the astronomical community through the operation of multiple NASA flagship missions including Hubble, JWST, and WFIRST, the development of advanced data and science archives, and the dissemination of astronomical information to the broadest public audiences. With the Decadal Survey under way, the winter 2019 AAS meeting will represent an ideal opportunity to ensure that all astronomers are engaged in shaping the future of our profession. STScI will lead a wide range of workshops, science sessions, splinter meetings, and exhibits to bring the community the latest highlights on astronomical discoveries with our missions, news related to the planning and associated policies for JWST’s upcoming call for proposals in 2019, updates on best practices for making our workplaces more inclusive, strategies for making astronomy accessible to all audiences, and much more.

The STScI Town Hall will serve as the center piece for our AAS 233 presence. We will engage the community on forward-looking Institute initiatives along these themes, and present new opportunities on our existing and upcoming missions and data archives that are designed to advance astrophysics into the 2020s. The Town Hall will consist of a mix of presentations from STScI’s user engagement leads across our missions as well as representatives from our external community-based advisory bodies. We will have dedicated discussion sessions to receive community input regarding new initiatives and to answer questions about our activities in the coming year. 

  • HAD Town Hall: Annual business meeting of the Historical Astronomy Division.


Plenary and Prize Talks

  • One Large Galaxy With One Small Telescope – Julianne Dalcanton (University of Washington, Seattle)
  • RAS Medal Prize Lectureship: Ripples from the Dark Side of the Universe – Sir James Hough (University of Glasgow, Scotland)
  • HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize: Cosmic Rumbles and Fireworks from Merging Neutron Stars – Colleen Wilson-Hodge (NASA/MSFC)
  • AAS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education – Alex Rudolph (Cal Poly Pomona), Gibor Basri (UC Berkeley), and members of the Task Force team

Special Sessions

  • TESS: Early Results and Future Plans
  • NASA Decadal Preparations: Large Mission Concept Studies
  • First Results from the Kepler/K2 Supernova Experiment
  • Astrophysics Archives in the 2020s
  • HEAD I: Chandra at 20
  • HEAD II: Fermi at 10
  • HAD V
  • Recent Exoplanetary Microlensing Discoveries as Pathfinding and Community Building for WFIRST
  • Frontiers of Pulsar Astrophysics
  • New Results from the Dark Energy Survey
  • NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship (NESSF) Astrophysics Fellows Forum

Town Halls

  • NSF Town Hall: Personnel from the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences will present recent highlights, the status of major facility and grants programs, the budget results from 2018 and outlook for 2019, and responses to recent community reports and advice.

  • The AAS Climate Site Visit Program: The AAS has established a program of visits to departments and institutes to assess the workplace climate, particularly as it relates to members of marginalized groups. To set up and oversee the program, the Board has appointed a Site Visit Oversight Committee (SVOC). This program will be a powerful asset to sites seeking to prioritize and demonstrate the commitment to equity and inclusion in astronomy. Hosting a site visit provides institutional value and assures potential students, faculty, and research staff that their future place of work has sought the tools to improve workplace climate. Department chairs and site administrators will be empowered with external recommendations from a team of professionals and astronomers thoroughly trained on topics such as implicit and explicit bias, emotional intelligence, marginalization, and inclusive climates.

    In this town hall, members of the SVOC will: present the practices that it recommends to promote climates that are inclusive for all, describe the procedures it has developed for conducting site visits, and seek input from the community.

  • SOFIA Town Hall: The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) continues to provide to the international community open access to mid- and far-infrared observations with a broad range of instruments. SOFIA is in its 6th observing cycle and starts the 7th cycle in May 2019. SOFIA also provides a unique platform for instrument and technology development, as illustrated both by the ongoing upgrades of existing SOFIA instruments and an active new instrument program.

    In this Town Hall meeting, we will discuss several important new developments for the observatory including these topics:
    • Using Strategic Director’s Discretionary Time (SDDT), SOFIA made highly relevant observations in the last months. The SOFIA Science Center immediately made fully reduced datasets available to the community. There will be an overview over the datasets to encourage the astronomical community to analyze the observations and use them for their research.
    • Cycle 7 introduces SOFIA Legacy Programs (SLPs). They offer on the order of 100 hours of observations over 2 years and encourage the proposal teams to deliver enhanced data products to the community. We will discuss the response of the community to the call for SLPs and regular programs.
    • The SOFIA Next Generation Science Instrument Call solicited step-1 proposals with a due date on August 1st. We will report on the proposal selection and the status of the subsequent implementation of Instrument Concept Studies.
    • In 2019, SOFIA will undergo a 5-year Flagship Mission Review. The implications and SOFIA’s preparations for the review will presented during the Town Hall.

In addition to communicating the current status and plans by the SOFIA program, this Town Hall will allow direct feedback by the SOFIA user community regarding current operations, future plans.

  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Town Hall: This Town Hall will inform the AAS membership about the status of science, science operations, and development programs at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). An opening reception will be followed by brief presentations that will update the membership regarding: (a) scientific opportunities and technical development at the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA); (b) recent science results from across the community and the Observatory; and (c) scientific and technical planning for future radio astronomy research facilities, including a next generation Very Large Array (ngVLA). The NRAO Town Hall will include time for discussion and answering audience questions.

  • James Webb Space Telescope Town Hall: The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will soon become the most powerful space telescope available to astronomical observers, serving a broad range of high priority science. As the 2019 call for Cycle 1 General Observer (GO) proposals approaches, the Winter 2019 AAS meeting provides an opportunity for potential JWST GOs to gain a better understanding of the Cycle 1 science landscape and how to prepare the best proposals. In addition, we recognize the interest the community has in the progress toward launch of the observatory. The town hall will feature a presentation on JWST’s status by Dr. Eric Smith, NASA’s JWST Program Scientist, including updates on testing activities and JWST’s readiness for launch. The town hall will also provide the latest information regarding JWST user tools, observer’s documentation, and the science timeline for JWST Cycle 1 and beyond. Other presenters include representatives from the JWST Project, JWST Users Committee, and Guaranteed Time Observers program. Ample time will be reserved for discussion with the community and to answer general questions related to proposing for JWST. Refreshments will be provided courtesy of Northrop Grumman.


Plenary and Prize Talks

  • The Energetic Universe in Focus: Twenty Years of Science with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory – Ryan Hickox (Dartmouth College)
  • The Climates of Other Worlds: Exoplanet Climatology as a Pathway to Accurate Assessments of Planetary Habitability – Aomawa Shields (UC Irvine)
  • Annie Jump Cannon Prize: Tracing the Astrochemical Origins of Familiar and Exotic Planets – L. Ilsedore Cleeves (University of Virginia)
  • Henry Norris Russell Lectureship: The Limits of Cosmology – Joseph Silk (Johns Hopkins University, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, and Oxford University)

Special Sessions

  • Selections from the PRPER Focused Collection on Astronomy Education Research
  • Joint AAS-AGU Session on Frontiers in Exoplanets
  • Exploring our Cosmic Origins: New Results from the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array
  • Alert Follow-Up
  • AAS Public Policy Panel with Congressional Staffers: Achieving Ambitious, Balanced Portfolios in Astrophysics
  • Theoretical Advances Guided by Radio-Millimeter-Submillimeter Arrays
  • Modern Morphologies – Galaxy Zoo and Beyond

Town Halls

  • Implementing the Next Decadal Survey: Status Report of Astro2020 from the NAS Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics: The Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics (CAA), under the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, invites attendees of the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society to a town hall meeting to discuss the state of the next decadal survey.

    The decadal survey is the process through which the broader astronomy and astrophysics scientific communities form conclusions and recommendations to the agencies supporting its research for the next decade of activities in their respective fields. The most recent survey, New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, was completed in August 2010 and recommends a multitude of new activities that NASA, NSF, and the DoE are working to implement. Programs and activities recommended in this report include Hubble, Spitzer, Chandra, the James Webb Space Telescope, the VLA, Gemini, and ALMA.

    At this Town Hall, members of the CAA will provide an overview of the progress made towards preparing and organizing for the survey, along with an updated schedule for its implementation. Involving the astronomy and astrophysics communities are an essential part of all phases of the decadal process and a critical component to the success of the survey. The CAA welcomes all community input on matters facing the next survey, which include the state of the profession, the technical and programmatic scope, structure, the cost and technical evaluation (CATE) process, and the international context.

    Steven Ritz (University of California, Santa Cruz), CAA Co-Chair, will chair the session. Other CAA members and National Academies staff will be present.

  • AAS Public Policy Town Hall: The AAS Committee on Public Policy (CAPP) will host a special listening session with the committee tasked with advising the National Space Council (NSpC): the Users’ Advisory Group (UAG). Many of the members of the UAG are recognized leaders in varied areas of the civil, commercial, and military space sectors, but there are no active scientific researchers in the group and few direct connections between any of the group members and the scientific or academic communities. AAS and the scientific community are eager to ensure that a national space strategy is informed by scientific input. The listening session is an opportunity to share key priorities, interests, and concerns of our community. Inter-agency and/or cross-sector issues are the unique purview of the NSpC; the broad lunar and deep space exploration strategy being pursued by the administration is also of particular relevance. Some issues that could be worth highlighting are spectrum allocations and protections for science, space weather, and international cooperation, but there are surely others. The listening session will comprise (brief) presentations on key issues and an open forum for comments and questions.

  • The National Academies Committee on Exoplanet Science Strategy: In preparation for and as input to the upcoming decadal surveys in astronomy and astrophysics and planetary science, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine undertook The Exoplanet Science Strategy study. The goals of this ad hoc committee were to survey the status of the field of exoplanet science, recommend an exoplanet science strategy that includes the search for life in the universe, identify cross-disciplinary opportunities, discuss which of the identified key goals could be addressed via current decadal survey priorities, and identify opportunities for coordination with other partners. This study was coordinated with a concurrent study that surveyed the state of the science of astrobiology.

    In this town hall, the committee co-chairs will describe the origin of this study, and present its primary findings, conclusions, and recommendations, which address the statements of task described above. The committee chairs will use this opportunity to solicit feedback from the astronomical, astrobiological, and planetary science communities on the contents of the NAS report.

  • NOAO Town Hall: NOAO into the 2020s and Beyond: The NSF's National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) is looking forward to an exciting 2019 in the areas of wide-field survey science, time-domain science, and exoplanet characterization. At Kitt Peak, the DOE-sponsored DESI Stage-4 dark energy survey will commence as will a NASA/NSF funded program to obtain extreme precision stellar radial velocity measurements in support of NASA's TESS mission. At Cerro Tololo, new community-based DECam imaging surveys will launch. Meanwhile, in collaboration with Gemini and the Las Cumbres Observatory, NOAO will deploy new time-domain research capabilities that support Virgo/LIGO and ZTF science in both hemispheres and strengthen the foundation for analogous LSST science in the future. New data sets and new data services will be deployed within the NOAO Data Lab, which also looks towards analogous LSST era capabilities. Looking further into the future, NOAO is working collaboratively with the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) and the Thirty Meter Telescope International Observatory (TIO) to develop a U.S. Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) Program and exploring paths to ultra-wide-field optical spectroscopy on 10-m class telescopes. Finally, NOAO is preparing for its transition into NSF's National Center for OIR Astronomy (NCOA) during FY20. Please join use for an overview presentation and interactive discussion of these exciting developments and more.

  • LSST Town Hall: Construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is accelerating, as the Project is less than two years away from first light with a commissioning camera. This Town Hall will focus on topics that are taking advantage of community input, such as: planning LSST’s observing strategy, preparing for the distribution of alerts to community brokers, and developing educational and public outreach activities. We will also highlight LSST's construction progress, and ongoing initiatives by the LSST Corporation and Science Collaborations to help the community prepare for science with LSST.

  • NASA Scientific Balloon Roadmap: The scientific ballooning community is invited to participate in a town hall meeting which will help to inform the roadmap for the multi-disciplinary scientific goals of the NASA Balloon Program through the next decade, as part of NASA's Decadal Survey for Astrophysics (Astro2020). Investigators in all existing and potentially new fields in which stratospheric balloons provide opportunities for scientific and technological advancement are encouraged to attend and provide input. The session will present the current status and near-future outlook for both zero-pressure conventional and long-duration balloon flights, as well as the state and progress toward a robust program of ultra-long- duration mid-latitude flights using developing super-pressure balloons, which provide excellent day-night altitude stability. Several invited presentations will summarize the current state-of- the-art in payloads, instruments, and detectors for the current suite of scientific investigations, in Astrophysics, Exoplanet exploration, Heliophysics, Planetary science, Balloon and Payload technology, and Education and Training. A panel discussion will gather input from the community.


Plenary and Prize Talks

  • From Disks to Planets: Observing Planet Formation in Disks Around Young Stars – Catherine Espaillat (Boston University)
  • Alexander Szalay (Johns Hopkins University)
  • Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize – Elena Aprile (Columbia University)
  • AAS Public Policy Talk

Special Sessions

  • Holistic Review In Graduate Admissions: A How-To Guide From Practitioners
  • The VLA Sky Survey
  • A Hubble Space Telescope for the 2020s: Capabilities and Opportunities
  • A NICER Exploration of Neutron Stars
  • Kepler and K2’s 500,000 High-Precision Light Curves: Prospects for Future Discoveries
  • Computational Astrophysics