238th meeting

Press Information

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

14 May 2021 (updated 9 June 2021)

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

Press Kit for the 238th AAS Meeting

The 238th meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), to be held virtually 7-9 June 2021, will feature five press conferences on discoveries from our solar system to the remote reaches of the cosmos. In addition, a seminar for science writers will prepare journalists to cover the launch, deployment, in-flight checkout, and science mission of the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled for liftoff later this year.

AAS 238 is a joint gathering with the Society’s Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) and Solar Physics Division (SPD). Aside from the briefings it will feature prize lectures and invited talks by eminent astronomers; a wide variety of short talks, digital interactive iPosters, and iPoster-Plus presentations combining talks and iPosters; public-policy Town Halls; and a virtual exhibit hall. 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

Important Preliminaries

All attendees — including press registrants — are expected to follow our Guide to AAS Meeting Etiquette, Anti-Harassment Policy for AAS & Division Meetings & Activities, and Code of Ethics. Obviously some of the provisions in these policies apply only to in-person meetings, but others apply more broadly and are applicable to virtual meetings too. Your participation in AAS 238 is taken to signify that you have read these policies and that you agree to abide by them.

Press Registration

To request complimentary press registration, first check our eligibility criteria, then email 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 LogoTo see who's registered as press so far, visit our AAS 238 Press Registrants page.

Since we will not be meeting in person, there will be no physical press office, press conference room, or press interview room. We thank the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) for generously sponsoring the AAS 238 virtual press office!

Press Contacts

Assisting in the Press Office: Luna Zagorac (Yale University / Astrobites)

Press Conferences

News briefings will be held twice each day Monday, 7 June, through Wednesday, 9 June, via Zoom. Although they are designed for press registrants, they are open to all meeting registrants. They’ll be live-streamed to the public on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel, but viewers watching on YouTube will not be able to ask questions; to ask questions, you’ll need to register for the meeting and join the briefings via Zoom. Briefings occur in parallel with scientific oral sessions, digital interactive iPoster sessions, and iPoster-Plus presentations. Recordings of the press conferences will be archived on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel afterward.

Following is the press conference program, which remains subject to change. Briefings are scheduled as follows (all times are EDT = UTC – 4 hours):

In [square brackets] under the speakers’ names are the abstract or session numbers on which their presentations are based, where applicable. Abstracts are available in the online program planner.

All findings are embargoed until the time of presentation at the meeting. “Time of presentation” means the start time of the scientific 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.

Within 24 hours after each briefing, we add a link to the archived video on the AAS Press Office YouTube channel. We also link presentation titles to the speakers' presentation files (PDFs) when provided. These files are 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, 7 June 2021, 12:15 pm EDT
Press Conference: Stars & Clusters (Briefing Video)

Auroral Electrons Surfing on Alfvén Waves
James Schroeder (Wheaton College, Illinois) & Gregory Howes (University of Iowa)
[204.04] | Wheaton Press Release | UIowa Press Release | UCLA Press Release

Mind the Gap: Observing the Jet/Coronal Mass Ejection Continuum
Emily Mason (Universities Space Research Association & NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)
[213.16] | USRA Press Release | NASA Feature Article

Confirmation of a Second Propeller: A High-Inclination Twin of AE Aquarii
Peter Garnavich (University of Notre Dame)
[225.01] | Press Release

Eta Carinae’s Change of State as Seen by Hubble from 1998 to 2021
Kris Davidson (University of Minnesota)
[227.04] | Press Release (PDF)

An Open Cluster Spread Across 1,500 Light-Years
Luke Bouma (Princeton University)
[227.05] | Press Release

Monday, 7 June 2021, 4:30 pm EDT
Press Conference: Black Holes & Active Galactic Nuclei (Briefing Video)

A Giant Arc on the Sky
Alexia Lopez (Jeremiah Horrocks Institute, University of Central Lancashire)
[111.01] | Press Release

Serendipitous Discovery of a Dying Active Galactic Nucleus in Arp 187
Kohei Ichikawa (Tohoku University)
[209.02] | Press Release

A Sensitive X-Ray Survey of the Rubin/LSST Deep-Drilling Fields
W. Niel Brandt & Qingling Ni (Pennsylvania State University)
[209.01] | Press Release

A Merging Galaxy Triple Hosting a Potential Dual Active Galactic Nucleus
Jonathan Williams (National Science Foundation & University of Maryland)
[209.08] | Press Release

Forming an “Impossible” 85-Solar-Mass Black Hole
Jorick Vink (Armagh Observatory and Planetarium)
[227.02] | Press Release

Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 12:15 pm EDT
Press Conference: Molecules in Strange Places (Briefing Video)

The Molecular Content of Planetary Nebulae: The Next Level
Kate Gold (Bryn Mawr College) & Deborah Schmidt (Franklin & Marshall College)
[130.05] | Press Release

ALMA Imaging of Molecules in Planetary Nebulae
Lucy Ziurys (University of Arizona)
[114.04] | Press Release

Organic Molecules at the Outer Reaches of the Galaxy
Lilia Koelemay (University of Arizona)
[326.05] | Press Release

The Giant Molecular Cloud Population of the Local Universe
Annie Hughes (Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie)
[310.01] | NRAO Press Release | Ohio State Press Release

Tuesday, 8 June 2021, 4:30 pm EDT
Seminar for Science Writers: Get Ready for Webb! (Briefing Video)

Christine Pulliam & Hannah Braun (Space Telescope Science Institute)
WebbTelescope.org | Webb Science Writers' Guide

James Webb Space Telescope Mission Update & Overview
Eric Smith (NASA Headquarters)

Early Galaxies Across Space & Time
Dan Coe (Space Telescope Science Institute)

Star & Planet Formation
Ilse Cleeves (University of Virginia)

Knicole Colon (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center)

Our Solar System
Heidi Hammel (Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy)

Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 12:15 pm EDT
Press Conference: Fast Radio Bursts / Exoplanets & Brown Dwarfs I (Briefing Video)

Fast Radio Bursts: From a Handful to Hundreds with CHIME/FRB
Kiyoshi Masui (MIT), Alex Josephy (McGill University) & Mohit Bhardwaj (McGill Univ.)
[325.01, 110.02] | MIT Press Release | McGill Press Release | UBC Press Release

A Statistical Search for Chemical Signatures of Planet Formation in Sun-like Stars
Jacob Nibauer (University of Pennsylvania)
[332.04] | Press Release

Using Proper Motions from CatWISE2020
to Uncover New Objects in the Solar Neighborhood

Tarun Kota (Eastview High School), J. Davy Kirkpatrick (IPAC/Caltech)
& Dan Caselden (Gigamon Applied Threat Research)

[231.04] | Additional Info

Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 4:30 pm EDT
Press Conference: Exoplanets & Brown Dwarfs II (Briefing Video)

Gone, But Not Forgotten: 372 New Planets Discovered in Kepler/K2 Data
Jon Zink (University of California, Los Angeles)

Scaling K2: Validation of Kepler/K2 Planet Candidates Using VESPA
Sakhee Bhure (Florida Institute of Technology)

Revealing the Vertical Cloud Structure of a Beta Pictoris b Analog
Elena Manjavacas (Space Telescope Science Institute)
[207.03] | Press Release

How Two Old, Unrelated Exoplanet Systems
Turned Out to Be 400-Million-Year-Old Siblings

Jason Curtis (Columbia University)
[227.01] | Press Release (PDF)

Plenary Lectures

A highlight of every AAS meeting are the daily invited talks by recent prizewinners and other distinguished astronomers. AAS 238 will feature nine such lectures, kicking off on Monday morning with the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture, which immediately follows the welcome address by the AAS President. In the following list, session numbers are in [square brackets], and all times are EDT = UTC – 4 hours.

Monday, 7 June 2021

10:45 am EDT
Welcome Address
AAS President Paula Szkody (University of Washington)

11:00 am EDT
Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture:
“A New Era of Measuring Magnetic Fields in Galaxies”
Enrique López Rodríguez (Stanford Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology)

3:10 pm EDT
“The Time Is Now: Findings from the TEAM-UP Report to Increase the Number of African Americans with Bachelor’s Degree in Physics and Astronomy”
Tabbetha A. Dobbins (Rowan University)

5:50 pm EDT
Newton Lacy Pierce Prize Lecture: “Stargazing and Supergiants:
Betelgeuse, Dying Stars, and the Observational Future of Stellar Astrophysics”
Emily Levesque (University of Washington)

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

11:00 am EDT
Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) Plenary Lecture:
“Origins of Astrochemical Complexity”
Karin Öberg (Harvard University)

3:10 pm EDT
Annie Jump Cannon Prize Lecture:
“Turbulent Beginnings: A Predictive Theory of Star Formation in the Interstellar Medium”
Blakesley Burkhart (Rutgers University)

5:50 pm EDT
“Our Galaxy in Context: Satellite Galaxies Around the Milky Way and Its Siblings”
Marla Geha (Yale University)

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

11:00 am EDT
Solar Physics Division (SPD) George Ellery Hale Prize Lecture:
“The Evolution of Our Understanding of Coronal Mass Ejections”
Russell Howard (Naval Research Laboratory)

3:10 pm EDT
“The Complex Upper H-R Diagram — Shaped by Mass Loss”
Roberta Humphreys (University of Minnesota)

5:50 pm EDT
“Science Highlights from the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR)”
Daniel Stern (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Town Halls

Public-policy Town Halls give attendees an opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, representatives from funding agencies, ground-based observatories, and space missions.

Monday, 7 June 2021

1:40 pm EDT
NASA Town Hall

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

1:40 pm EDT
Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) Town Hall

1:40 pm EDT
National Science Foundation (NSF) Town Hall

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

1:40 pm EDT
Astro2020 Advocacy, Satellite Constellations, and More!

1:40 pm EDT
Solar Physics Division (SPD) Agency Town Hall

AAS Members' Meeting

Wednesday, 9 June 2021, 6:50 pm EDT
AAS Members’ Meeting & Closing Remarks
Hear brief reports from the Society's officers and get to know our new elected leaders as we close out the virtual 238th AAS meeting.

Each day wraps up with a social hour, and you won’t want to miss our live Open Mic Night (Tuesday, 8 June, at 6:50 pm EDT), where you can enjoy watching astronomers show off their talents as musicians, singers, storytellers, comedians, magicians, poets, jugglers, and more.

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 #aas238.

Join the AAS Press List

If you don't already receive press releases by email from the AAS Press Office, you should sign up now to guarantee that you receive future meeting advisories as well as other important announcements. To sign up at 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 from the AAS, as described on our press-credentials page.