238th meeting

Press Information

Virtually Anywhere
238th meeting of the American Astronomical Society
Virtually Anywhere
7 – 9 June 2021

18 March 2021

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

Media Invited to Virtual AAS Meeting in June

The American Astronomical Society (AAS) invites science writers worldwide to its 238th semiannual meeting. The conference was originally scheduled to be held in Anchorage, Alaska, but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led the Society to make it fully virtual, as with the 236th meeting in June 2020 and the 237th in January 2021. Conditions permitting, we look forward to resuming in-person meetings in January 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah. We’ll return to Anchorage in June 2025 for our 246th meeting.

AAS 238 will be held Monday-Wednesday, 7-9 June 2021, “virtually anywhere” with internet connectivity. The meeting, a joint gathering with the AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) and Solar Physics Division (SPD), will feature prize lectures and invited talks by eminent astronomers, daily press conferences, a virtual exhibit hall, and a wide variety of short talks, digital interactive iPosters, and iPoster-Plus presentations combining talks and iPosters. Meeting hashtag: #aas238.

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

AAS 238 Meeting Links

Press Registration

To request complimentary press registration, first check our eligibility criteria, then contact AAS Press Officer Dr. Rick Fienberg with your name and media affiliation (or “freelance” if applicable). Upon confirming your eligibility, he’ll email you a special promotional code that you can use to register the same way regular attendees do, i.e., via the AAS 238 registration page. Advance press registration deadline: Thursday, 3 June 2021. If you wait till the meeting is under way, we may not be able to process your registration in time for you to attend that day’s events. For step-by-step instructions, see our Press Information page.USRA Logo

Since we will not be meeting in person, there will be no physical press office, press conference room, or press interview room. A very special “Thank you!” goes out to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) for generously sponsoring the AAS 238 virtual press office!

Press Conferences

From Monday through Wednesday, 7 June through 9 June 2021, daily press conferences will be conducted via Zoom for press registrants and any other meeting registrants wishing to attend. They’ll also be live-streamed on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel for others who are interested — but not interested enough to register. You will not be able to ask questions via YouTube; to ask questions, you’ll need to register for the meeting and join the briefings via Zoom. Recordings will be archived on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel afterward. The AAS 238 press conference topics, speakers, and schedule will be announced in April or May.

Plenary Lectures

With support from the Kavli Foundation, the AAS Vice-Presidents invite a distinguished scientist to kick off each AAS meeting with a presentation on recent research of great importance. At AAS 238, the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture will be given by Enrique López Rodríguez (Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford University). He’ll present some of his pioneering work on extragalactic magnetic fields based on polarimetric data from the high-flying Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA).

Several AAS and Division award winners will give prize lectures at the conference. Emily Levesque (University of Washington), recipient of the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize, will share results from some of her breakthrough studies of massive stars and their explosive end states. Blakesley Burkhart (Rutgers University), honored with the Annie Jump Cannon Award, will present highlights from her studies of turbulence on multiple scales and in diverse astrophysical environments.

Russell Howard (Naval Research Laboratory) will give his SPD George Ellery Hale Prize lecture on key developments in the discovery, measurement, and understanding of coronal mass ejections and their role in space weather. Lucia Kleint (University of Geneva) will present her Karen Harvey Prize lecture on her work modeling radiative transfer and turbulent magnetic fields in the quiet Sun and her analysis of spectropolarimetric measurements of the photosphere and chromosphere during flares.

We’ll hear from all three of this year’s LAD prizewinners. Geoffrey Blake (Caltech), recipient of the Laboratory Astrophysics Prize, will speak about his spectroscopic and observational studies of the chemistry of the interstellar medium, star-forming regions, disks, comets, and exoplanetary atmospheres. Early Career Award winner Javier García (Caltech) will describe results from his calculations of atomic data and implementation of relativistic reflection models to understand accreting black holes and neutron stars. And Jennifer Bergner (University of Chicago) will present her Dissertation Prize lecture on the discovery of new pathways to the formation of complex molecules and her explorations of the origins of organic molecules during planet formation.

Other invited lecturers include Karin Öberg (Harvard University), who will present a LAD plenary talk on surprising observations of complex organic molecules in different astrophysical environments and laboratory experiments that aim to figure out their possible formation pathways. We'll also hear from Marla Geha (Yale University) on the structure and dynamics of low-redshift dwarf galaxies, Roberta Humphreys (University of Minnesota) on the critical role of stellar mass loss in the upper part of the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, and Daniel Stern (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) on science highlights from NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission.

Special Sessions & Meetings-in-a-Meeting

In addition to the many sessions of short talks and iPoster presentations, including those convened by LAD and SPD, AAS 238 will feature numerous Special Sessions and multiple-session Meetings-in-a-Meeting on topics of keen interest to the astronomical community. Among the former are “Science from the LIGO-Virgo Catalog of Gravitational Wave Events,” “Unaccounted Uncertainties: The Role of Systematics in Astrophysics,” and “The James Webb Space Telescope: Ready for Launch!” Among the Meetings-in-a-Meeting, with a variety of sessions spanning two or three days, are “Machine Learning in Astronomy,” “An Exploration of Thorne-Zytkow Objects,” and “Emission Lines in Galaxies.”

Splinter Meetings & Town Halls

Assorted Splinter Meetings — similar to Special Sessions — are also on the schedule. They include “Arecibo Observatory: Legacy and Future,” “Astronomical Data Visualization in the Age of Science Platforms,” and “Opportunities for Ultraviolet Spectropolarimetry.” And AAS 238 will have several public-policy Town Halls where you can hear from, and ask questions of, representatives from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Space Telescope Science Institute.

Every day wraps up with a social hour, and you won’t want to miss our ever-popular Open Mic Night, where you can enjoy watching astronomers show off their talents as musicians, singers, storytellers, comedians, magicians, poets, jugglers, and more.

Virtual AAS 238: Your inside look at the latest discoveries in astronomy. We hope to see you there, wherever you happen to be!

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