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2nd Media Advisory, 234th AAS Meeting, St. Louis, MO, 9-13 June 2019

AAS 234

24 May 2019

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

More than 500 astronomers, including many who study the Sun and who conduct theoretical and experimental research into the underlying processes that drive the cosmos, will gather in St. Louis, Missouri, from 9 to 13 June for the 234th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). This is a joint meeting of the AAS and its Solar Physics Division (SPD) and Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD). Among the highlights will be six press conferences on topics ranging from the star shining at the center of our solar system to remote galaxies seen as they were during the universe's youth. Meeting hashtag: #aas234.

The venue for this summer's AAS meeting is the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, 1820 Market St., St. Louis, MO 63103. It's no ordinary convention center. The first train pulled into St. Louis Union Station on 1 September 1894. The "Gateway to the West" suddenly became a gateway to all of America. Union Station would become one of the largest and busiest passenger rail terminals in the world. Today it's a balance of nostalgia and renovation. The stylish and sophisticated Grand Hall features elegant historic touches like the original terrazzo floor, green glazed terracotta bricks, and wooden carpentry detailing. Among the carefully restored details is the Allegorical Window, depicting in hand-crafted stained glass three women representing the expanse of train travel in the 1890s from New York to San Francisco, with St. Louis in the middle, linking the country together.

The AAS offers complimentary press registration for the meeting to bona fide working journalists and public-information officers (PIOs), as explained below.

Meeting Links:

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 St. Louis Union Station Hotel, pre-registered press should go to the AAS registration desk in the Depot Registration Office on the 1st floor, just outside the Regency Ballrooms. Please try to pick up your badge before the AAS Opening Reception, which begins at 7 pm Sunday evening, 9 June, in the Grand Hall on the 2nd floor. Note that the AAS registration desk opens at 1 pm on Sunday.

Reporters and PIOs who need to register on-site at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel should go straight to the AAS registration desk in the Depot Registration Office on the 1st floor, anytime after 1 pm on Sunday, 9 June, and ask for an on-site press-registration form. You'll be asked to take it to the AAS press office (Burlington Route, 2nd floor) 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 Burlington Route on the 2nd floor of the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, with working space, printer, power strips, and internet connectivity for reporters and PIOs.

Press office staff:

We will also have a press interview room next door to the press office, in the Frisco room, for use by press registrants; to reserve this room for use at specific dates and times, please use the online sign-up sheet.

Press Conference Schedule, Topics & Speakers

News briefings will be held each morning and afternoon, Monday, 10 June, through Wednesday, 12 June, across the hall from the press office in Illinois Central, which will be equipped with a sound system, mult-box, and internet connectivity. There will be no news briefings on Thursday, 13 June.

Briefing audio, slides, and video will be available live via webcast; online journalists will be able to ask questions of the presenters via text chat with an on-site press officer (see below).

Following is the preliminary press-conference program, which remains subject to change. Briefings are scheduled as follows (all times are CDT = UTC/GMT − 5 hours):

In [square brackets] under the speakers' names are the abstract or session numbers on which their presentations are based.

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.

Monday, 10 June 2019, 11:00 am CDT
Exoplanets, Flare Stars, and a Crab

Support for "Hot Start" Formation of a Giant Planet
Christopher Johns-Krull (Rice University)

A Limited Habitable Zone for Complex Life
Edward Schwieterman (University of California, Riverside)

Do Kepler Superflare Stars Really Include Slowly Rotating Sun-like Stars?
Yuta Notsu (Kyoto University & University of Colorado)

The Cold Case of SN 1054: The First Cover-Up in the History of Astronomy?
Jeffrey L. Payne (Indiana University School of Medicine)

Monday, 10 June 2019, 3:00 pm CDT
What's New Under the Sun — I

Fine-Scale Explosive Energy Release in the Core of a Solar Active Region
Sanjiv Tiwari (Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory)

The Life of Coronal Bright Points
Karin Muglach (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Detection of Dynamo Waves in the Solar Convection Zone by Helioseismology
Alexander G. Kosovichev (New Jersey Institute of Technology)

Listening to the Sun: The Sonification of Solar Harmonics
Timothy Larson (Moberly Area Community College)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 11:00 am CDT
Spiral Galaxies Near and Far

The Spiral Magnetic Field in the Central 5 Parsecs of the Galaxy
C. Darren Dowell (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Multi-Wavelength Study of Spiral Structure and Star-Formation Region in Disk Galaxies
Daniel J. Kennefick (University of Arkansas)

New Multifaceted Evidence in Favor of Spiral Density Wave Theory
Mohamed Shameer Abdeen (University of Arkansas)

Searching for Intermediate Mass Black Holes in Spiral Galaxies with Citizen Scientists
Patrick M. Treuthardt (North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences)

Tuesday, 11 June 2019, 3:00 pm CDT
What's New Under the Sun — II

Predicting the End of Sunspot Cycle 24 and Its Effects on Earth
Robert Leamon (University of Maryland & NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Disentangling Chromospheric Temperatures and Dynamics
Kevin P. Reardon (National Solar Observatory)

Exploring the Coexistence of Two Distinct Dynamo States in the Sun
Loren Matilsky (University of Colorado)

Long-Term Prediction of Solar Activity
Irina Kitiashvili (NASA Ames Research Center)

Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 11:00 am CDT
Milky Way Matters

Formation of Interstellar C60 from Silicon Carbide Circumstellar Grains
Jacob Bernal (University of Arizona)

The Milky Way Project: Probing Star Formation with a New Yellowball Catalog
Grace A. Wolf-Chase (Adler Planetarium)

Antlia 2: The Dark Dwarf Galaxy that Crashed into the Milky Way
Sukanya Chakrabarti (Rochester Institute of Technology)

Dynamical Evidence for a Dark Substructure in the Milky Way Halo
Ana Bonaca (Center for Astrophysics)

Wednesday, 12 June 2019, 3:00 pm CDT
Cold Quasars & Hot Cosmology

A New Population of Cold Quasars
Allison Michelle Kirkpatrick (University of Kansas)

Local Structure Does Not Impact Measurement of the Hubble Constant
William D'Arcy Kenworthy (Johns Hopkins University)

Lambda Cold Dark Matter in Tension with Pantheon Data
Maurice H. Van Putten (Sejong University)

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 Reception & Closing Breakfast

Both of these catered events are open to all attendees and registered guests and will be held at the St. Louis Union Station Hotel. The Opening Reception will include a cash bar.

Sunday, 9 June, 7:00 to 8:30 pm
AAS Opening Reception
Grand Hall, 2nd Floor

Thursday, 13 June, 9:30 to 10:30 am
AAS Closing Breakfast
Midway West, 1st Floor

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. Except where noted, all of the following presentations occur in Grand Ballroom DEF.

Monday, 10 June

8:10 am to 8:30 am
Welcome by the AAS President
Megan Donahue (Michigan State University)

8:30 am to 9:20 am
Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecture:
Key Outstanding Questions in Galaxy Formation and How to Answer Them
Alice Shapley (University of California, Los Angeles)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
Helen B. Warner Prize Lecture:
Hunting for Dark Matter in the Early Universe
Yacine Ali-Haïmoud (New York University)

4:30 pm to 5:20 pm
SPD George Ellery Hale Prize Lecture:
Observations About Observations of the Sun
Philip Scherrer (Stanford University)

Tuesday, 11 June

8:30 am to 9:20 am
LAD Plenary Lecture:
The Role of Dust in the Molecular Universe
Xander Tielens (Leiden University, The Netherlands)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
The Tools of Precision Measurements in Exoplanet Discovery
and Characterization: Peeking Under the Hood of the Instruments
Suvrath Mahadevan (Pennsylvania State University)

4:30 pm to 5:20 pm
Journey to the Center of the Galaxy: Following the Gas
to Understand the Past and Future Activity of Galaxy Nuclei
Elisabeth Mills (Brandeis University)

Wednesday, 12 June

8:30 am to 9:20 am
Transiting Exoplanets: Past, Present, & Future
Joshua Winn (Princeton University)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
Cosmological Inference from Large Galaxy Surveys
Elisabeth Krause (University of Arizona)

4:30 pm to 5:20 pm
SPD Karen Harvey Prize Lecture:
Where Do Solar Eruptions Come From?
Anthony Yeates (Durham University)

Thursday, 13 June

8:30 am to 9:20 am
From Native Skywatchers to ASTR 101: New Designs for
Interdisciplinary, Multidisciplinary, and Transdisciplinary Engaged Learning Now
Annette Lee (St. Cloud University) & Bill Iseminger (Cahokia Mounds Historic Site)

12:20 pm to 1:10 pm
The Apollo Lunar Exploration Program: Scientific Impact and the Road Ahead
James Head (Brown University)

Town Halls & Business Meetings

The St. Louis program features numerous lunchtime and evening Town Hall gatherings on astronomy and public policy, where you can interact with representatives from funding agencies, advisory groups, ground-based observatories, and space-astronomy missions. In addition, the AAS, LAD, and SPD are all holding their annual members/business meetings in St. Louis, where you can hear the latest news from the Society's and the Divisions' leaders.

Monday, 10 June

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
NASA Town Hall
Grand Ballroom A

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
SPD Town Hall: Agency and Community Updates
Regency C

6:40 pm to 7:30 pm
American Astronomical Society (AAS) Members' Meeting
Grand Ballroom DEF

7:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Town Hall
Grand Ballroom A

Tuesday, 11 June

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
NASA Living with a Star Program Analysis Group (LPAG) Town Hall
Grand Ballroom B

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
National Science Foundation (NSF) Town Hall
Grand Ballroom A

6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
National Academy of Sciences:
The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey 2020
Grand Ballroom A

Wednesday, 12 June

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) Business Meeting
Grand Ballroom A

1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
National Solar Observatory (NSO): Countdown to DKIST Start of Operations
Grand Ballroom B

6:00 pm to 7:15 pm
Solar Physics Division (SPD) Business Meeting
Regency C

Public Event: Cielo Film Screening

On Tuesday evening, 11 June, from 8:30 to 10:00 pm, join us for a free screening of the documentary Cielo, a film by Alison McAlpine, in Grand Ballroom DEF. McAlpine writes, "The unforgettable Chilean sky and the remarkable characters we filmed are at the heart of Cielo. These desert dwellers and scientists who live and work in the Atacama Desert — their stories, their reflections, their humor and humanity, and the endless beauty of the sky — were and are my continual inspiration. So few of us look above and pay attention to the stars or planets in our daily lives; what would it be like to live among these extraordinary people in this otherworldly landscape whose gaze is totally directed upward?

"Cielo is also an exploration of what a story can be. The unfolding of our narrative is more associative than logical. We reveal with juxtapositions of image and sound — for instance, the intimacy of a human moment vis-à-vis the epic scale of the night sky. Cielo is an invitation to slow down, reflect, and rediscover our world, offering, I hope, the audience an evocative space in which to think and imagine for themselves. Or even experience a moment of transcendence, what photographer Robert Frank calls 'the poetry behind the surfaces of things.'"

Weekend Workshop on the Forthcoming US Solar Eclipses

In August 2017 the continental US experienced its first total solar eclipse in a generation. In April 2024 the US will have a second such eclipse, preceded just six months earlier by an annular ("ring of fire") solar eclipse in October 2023. The AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force ran a series of workshops to prepare the nation for the 2017 event. These were instrumental in helping communities in the path of totality manage an influx of visitors; in developing and disseminating appropriate eye-safety information nationwide; and in coordinating the efforts of numerous scientific, educational, governmental, and other organizations to avoid unnecessary overlap. This planning paid off, as there were very few eye injuries and to aside from some massive traffic jams as people left their eclipse-viewing sites to almost no other problems.

Now is not too early to start planning for the 2023 and 2024 eclipses, taking advantage of lessons learned from the 2017 event. Accordingly, the AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force is organizing what we expect will be the first in another series of annual planning workshops. The 1.5-day workshop will be held in conjunction with the 234th AAS meeting on Saturday-Sunday, 8-9 June, and is aimed at community leaders and other stakeholders both inside the paths of annularity (2023) and/or totality (2024) and outside, for — as in 2017 — the entire Lower 48 states will experience at least a deep partial eclipse. Journalists attending the AAS meeting are welcome to attend the workshop too, but we cannot offer complimentary registration, as space is limited. For more information and to sign up for the workshop, see our Solar Eclipse Planning Workshop page.

WorldWide Telescope

WorldWide Telescope (WWT), originally developed at Microsoft Research, is the AAS's official tool for visually exploring humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. WWT is primarily a website that allows users to interactively explore terabytes of astronomical data in a seamlessly integrated 4-D simulation of the known universe. But the open-source WWT software ecosystem also includes a Windows application that can power planetariums, a cloud-based web service for discovering and sharing astronomical data, and a Python module that allows astronomers to integrate WWT into their research.

The following interactive tutorials may be of interest to press registrants. The first introduces attendees to WWT's features as well as its applications to research, education, and public outreach. The second will demonstrate the basics of how to create WWT tours and integrate them into your classroom, websites, and public outreach events. Bring your own laptop; the WWT team recommends running the web version in Google's Chrome browser.

Monday, 10 June, 1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
Introduction to the AAS WorldWide Telescope
Wabash Cannonball

Tuesday, 11 June, 1:40 pm to 2:40 pm
Making Tours with the AAS WorldWide Telescope
Wabash Cannonball

Field Trip to Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

Thursday, 13 June, 2:30 pm to 6:00 pm ($20)
Just 10 miles east of downtown St. Louis is Cahokia, once the largest and most sophisticated pre-Columbian city north of Mexico and the largest archaeological site in America. At its heyday from 1100 to 1200 CE, Cahokia was home to some 20,000 people and covered more than five square miles. Today more than 100 of the giant mounds built by the inhabitants remain. We will stop at the visitor center and interpretive museum and enjoy a guided tour of the site including numerous mounds. To sign up for this field trip, see AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg in the press office (Burlington Route, 2nd floor).

A Note on Visas for Travel to the United States

Visa requirements for international travelers to the USA have become more stringent; see, for example, the following web pages:

Depending on your country of citizenship and how you characterize your trip to St. Louis, you may not need a visa. If you do need one, it could be either a B-1 or B-2 (business) visa or an I (journalism) visa. You are responsible for figuring out whether you need a visa and, if so, which one. If you need a letter for a visa application certifying that you are registered for the meeting, please request your complimentary press registration as soon as possible; only after you complete it can AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg send you such a letter.

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.