237th meeting

Press Information

Virtually Anywhere
237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society
Virtually Anywhere
10 – 15 January 2021

Science Writer’s Workshop:
Multi-Messenger & Time-Domain Astronomy

On Friday, 8 January 2021, journalists and other communications professionals participated in a virtual workshop on multi-messenger astronomy (MMA) and time-domain astronomy (TDA). The workshop was held as part of the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and ran from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm EST (17:00 to 21:00 GMT/UTC).

Featuring presentations by several leaders in the fields of multi-messenger and time-domain astronomy, the workshop was offered jointly by NSF’s NOIRLab and the AAS Press Office. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation through Gemini Observatory’s Gemini in the Era of Multi-Messenger Astronomy (GEMMA) program.

Over the past decade or so, discoveries have been made with “messengers” from space that go beyond photons, the messenger of light: particles from distant galaxies, neutrinos from the Sun and supernovae, and most recently ripples in the fabric of spacetime itself, known as gravitational waves. At the same time, a growing realization of the importance of the universe’s dynamic nature has crept into astronomy: supernovae explode, stars change in brightness, novae flare, and outbursts occur in regions around black holes. Multi-messenger and time-domain astronomy are two of the most rapidly advancing areas of astronomy, and it is expected that over the next decade and beyond these disciplines will define modern astronomy.

The key objective of the workshop was to provide a glimpse into the future of multi-messenger and time-domain astronomy and the facilities that will drive these fields. Additionally, there was a discussion about the challenges of communicating multi-messenger and time-domain astronomy in the context of a forthcoming white paper on best practices in large-scale, multi-institutional communication in the field.

Watch the YouTube Video of the Workshop

Most of the following presentation titles link to the speakers' presentation slides, either as PDFs or on Slides.com. These slides are provided for science writers' personal use only. If you wish to publish or otherwise reproduce any of the content in these presentations, 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.


White Paper

The MMA/TDA White Paper, “Best Media Practices for Large Multi-Institutional Science Collaborations,” was developed following a previous MMA/TDA workshop held at the Space Telescope Science Institute in November 2019.


Peter Michaud
Education & Engagement Manager
+1 808-936-6643 (cell)

Rick Fienberg
Press Officer
American Astronomical Society
+1 857-891-5649 (cell)

About NOIRLab and the AAS

NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the international Gemini Observatory (a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory. It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O'odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership (approx. 8,000) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the American Astronomical Society is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, science advocacy, education and outreach, and training and professional development.