241st meeting

Registration & Events

Seattle, Washington
241st meeting of the American Astronomical Society
Seattle, Washington
8 – 12 January 2023

Please note that workshop participation is only available for meeting registrants; all workshop participants must be registered for the meeting in some capacity.

Some workshops are only available to in-person registrants and some are hybrid.

Software Carpentry Workshop (Two days)
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (In-Person)
Sunday, 8 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm  (In-Person)
Registration fee: $35.00    

Computing is now an integral part of every aspect of astronomy and astrophysics, but most scientists are never taught how to build, use, validate, and share software. As a result, many spend hours or days doing things badly that could be done well in just a few minutes. The goal of the Software Carpentry Workshop is to change that by teaching best practices. The tools presented at the two day workshop will enable astronomers to spend less time wrestling with software and more time doing useful research. Furthermore, good quality, well tested code will make their science results easier to reproduce, distribute, and update.

The Software Carpentry Workshop will consist of short tutorials alternating with hands-on practical exercises and will cover the core software skills needed to construct, use, verify, and share software in astronomy. The first day’s tutorials will consist of shell automation of tasks, basic python programming, and an introduction to code review. The second day’s sessions will shift to focus on advanced python and version control with git/GitHub. The workshop will be run by a set of two Carpentries certified instructors and a team of helpers.

The workshop is aimed at astronomers at all stages of their education and careers who wish to learn computational tools to increase the reproducibility and efficiency of their work. Participants should have some knowledge of programming (not necessarily Python) and have some familiarity with the shell command line (i.e. navigating directories on the shell command line). Specific knowledge of Python and git are not required.

Registration is for both days. Participants will need personal computers and to be able to install software in advance of the workshop. A group list will be compiled approximately one month prior to the workshop to distribute software requirements and for collaborative installation troubleshooting. More information on the Software Carpentry project can be found at http://software-carpentry.org.

Foundations of Astronomical Data Science (Two days)     
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (In-person)
Sunday, 8 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00  

As the astronomical community moves into an era of big data, the paradigm of data processing is changing. We are transitioning from local end-to-end data processing (from taking or simulating observations to publishing the data) to retrieving pre-processed large datasets through database queries. The growing importance of such transactions are evident with current projects such as TESS, Gaia, SDSS, ZTF, HST, and Illustris and will become a necessity to fully utilize the next generation of astronomical surveys, telescopes, and simulations. Interaction with these databases and visualization of these complex datasets will be essential skills. This workshop will introduce participants to selecting information from an online database in an efficient and reproducible way and effectively visualizing the results.

The Astronomy Data Carpentry Workshop will consist of short tutorials alternating with hands-on practical exercises focused on building complex SQL queries using Astroquery, working with the retrieved data as Astropy Tables and Pandas data frames, storing the data locally for future use, and communicating the results with clear and compelling figures using Matplotlib. The workshop will be run by two Carpentries certified instructors as well as a team of helpers.

This course is aimed at astronomers at all stages of their education and careers. Participants are expected to have shell and Python knowledge equivalent to the Software Carpentry Python Curriculum (https://swcarpentry.github.io/python-novice-inflammation/): the ability to write a function in Python, familiarity with Python built-in types such as lists and dictionaries, and the ability to navigate directories using the command line. In addition, this lesson assumes that learners have some familiarity with astronomical concepts, including reference frames, proper motion, color-magnitude diagrams, globular clusters, and isochrones. Registration is for both days and due to the cumulative nature of the workshop, participants are expected to participate in both days fully. Participants will need personal computers and to be able to install software in advance of the workshop. A group list will be compiled approximately one month prior to the workshop to distribute software requirements and provide collaborative troubleshooting. More information on the Data Carpentry project can be found at https://datacarpentry.org and on this curriculum at https://datacarpentry.org/astronomy-python/.

Small Astronomical Space Telescopes: Exploring Cooperative Economies of Scale (Two days)    
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Hybrid)
Sunday, 8 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Hybrid)    
Registration fee: $35.00 

As access to space becomes less costly, small space telescope observations will become affordable to an ever-larger number of users. A number of new space telescope user groups beyond professional research astronomers and their graduate students—such as teaching universities professors and their undergraduate students, high school instructors and students, and citizen scientists—may conclude that the benefits from small space telescopes will justify their cost. This workshop aims to help users consolidate their requirements so that, together, they can achieve economies of scale sufficient to cross the threshold of affordability. An appropriate development approach may be one that tailors telescopes to suite a large number of users, not specific science projects. Market surveys could help identify new user groups, while analysis could locate the sweet spot that balances capabilities and cost for the greatest number of users. Prototype development costs could be shared. Further, more in-depth workshops could be a catalyst that would bring industry, users, and funders together. The bottom line: we can do things by working together that we can’t do separately.

Contact: Aaron Tohuvavohu, University of Toronto, [email protected] Website: https://bit.ly/TELE4ALL Sponsors: Mynaric, others

An Introduction to the Julia Programming Language    
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee:  $50.00 

The Julia programming language can be considered the successor to Scientific Python (SciPy). The language is designed for scientific computing by having built-in multidimensional arrays and parallel processing features. Yet, it can also be used as a general-purpose programming language like Python. Unlike Python, Julia solves the two-language problem by using just-in-time (JIT) compilation to generate machine code from high level expressions. In most cases, Julia is as fast as C, and in some cases faster. Julia is also a composable language, so independent libraries or packages usually work well together without any modification. These important features make Julia a very productive language for scientific software development by reducing the number of lines of code.

The objectives of this tutorial are: (1) to introduce astronomers and software developers to the basic language syntax, features, and power of the Julia programming language, (2) to compare and contrast Julia’s design features to those of C/C++ and Python, and (3) to show that Julia provides an easy migration path from languages such as C/C++, FORTRAN, and Python. In other words, it is not necessary to rewrite all of your code all at once.

The tutorial will begin with simple interactive command-line (REPL) examples that emphasize important concepts and features of the language; namely, unicode characters, multidimensional arrays, data types or structures, functions, multiple dispatch, and namespaces. It will then combine these basic concepts to demonstrate some important features of the language; namely, composability, the two-language problem and benchmarking, the standard library, plotting, interfacing to other languages, symbolic manipulation, package management, and parallel processing and GPUs.

Supporting Your Introductory Astronomy Courses: Integrating Astrobites, Sky & Telescope, and Other Digital and Hands-On Resources into your Courses
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 3:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00  

Join the AAS Education Committee and leading astronomy educators for this workshop to support your introductory astronomy courses. All participants will receive a kit of hands-on materials, access to digital resources, and access to classroom versions of Sky & Telescope for instructional use. Attendees will also learn how to visualize concepts and data using the interactive features of WorldWide Telescope.

Learn how to make use of the Astrobites database – over 2,500 astronomy articles written to be accessible to the public – to teach both foundational astronomy and groundbreaking research. Attendees will have the opportunity to try out a variety of hands-on materials that connect these topics to Sky & Telescope articles and science standards at the high school and core topics at the undergraduate level. Tactile graphics, 3D printed models, and kinesthetic activities will showcase an accessible and multimodal approach to teaching topics such as the electromagnetic spectrum and observational astronomy.

NASA’s TESS Mission Interactive Data Workshop
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (Hybrid)
Registration fee: $35.00 

NASA’s TESS mission (launched in 2018) provides the community with high cadence, optical time-series across the sky, with nearly-continuous observations lasting between 27 days and one year. TESS operations have been extended through at least September 2025, and so TESS will continue to provide time-series data for users on hundreds of thousands of targets, as well as Full Frame Images of >2000 square degrees of the sky each month. These observations provide valuable resources for a wide range of astronomy; the detection of exoplanets, the investigation of stellar variability, the identification of extra-galactic transient events, the study of AGN, and more.

This full day workshop is presented to the community to learn about TESS, learn how to obtain data (and research funding!) through the TESS General Investigator Program, and learn how to quickly get to work with the data, all of which is available with no exclusive access period. This workshop is ideal for both new and established users of TESS data. For new users can expect to learn where to get started with obtaining and using data. More experienced users can expect to learn about the new 200s observing mode and updated analysis techniques. We strongly encourage participation from scientists at all career-stages, working on extragalactic astronomy, stellar astronomy, exoplanet astronomy. We additionally encourage attendance from anyone interested in proposing for TESS observations.

The workshop will consist of; i) 30 minute talks introducing the NASA TESS mission ii) explanations of how to propose for TESS observations and obtain research funding in upcoming proposal calls iii) tutorials on working with TESS data and iv) an interactive work-with-the-experts session to show you how to work with TESS data on your own targets. Please bring a laptop for this interactive session!

How to Give Great Presentations: A Scientist’s Guide to Effective Communication
Saturday, 7 January, 9:00 am - 5:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00 

Presenting your research effectively to a broad audience is an essential career skill, yet most professional scientists receive little formal training in effective communication. This interactive workshop aims to empower researchers at all levels who wish to improve their own presentation skills. During the workshop participants will (i) learn how to communicate their research in various formats such as conference presentations, posters, journal clubs, and colloquia (ii) receive practical tips on presenting and answering questions with confidence (iii) create a workflow for designing accessible and engaging presentations regardless of format (iv) learn to identify common features of effective communication so they can incorporate them into their own presentations. Participants will have the opportunity to receive tailored one-on-one feedback in this hands-on workshop, and are encouraged to bring a draft of their own presentation(s) to work on. This workshop will be facilitated by a team of experienced professional astronomers with the support of the AAS Committee on Employment. 

NASA ROSES Proposal Writing Workshop    
Saturday, 7 January, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00 

The success of scientists depends upon their ability to obtain funding. One of the largest challenges is to create strong proposals. Using Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) from NASA as a template, this workshop will focus on teaching the audience key points to communicating science through successful proposal writing. As a result of this session, participants will be able to understand the proposal writing, reviewing, and selection process for federally funded research. This will also help those who have previously submitted proposals improve their performance. How to understand one’s values and maintain those throughout this process will also be focused on. Story tellers will add unique and important lessons learned to the session. 

JWST Proposal Planning Workshop   
Sunday, January 8, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm (Hybrid)   
Registration fee: $40.00

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will revolutionize our understanding of the universe with its unprecedented sensitivity and angular resolution at infrared wavelengths. This workshop will provide an overview of the JWST proposal and planning tools with a specific focus on the Exposure Time Calculator (ETC) and the Astronomer’s Proposal Tool (APT). In addition to seeing guided demonstrations, participants will take part in hands-on sessions and exercises to plan observations for selected science cases and observing modes. At the end of the workshop, a participant will be ready to use the JWST proposal tools to develop and submit a General Observer proposal.

Lunch will be provided.

Using Python and Astropy for Astronomical Data Analysis    
Sunday, 8 January, 9:00 am - 5:30 pm (Hybrid)
Registration fee: $100

This workshop will cover the use of Python tools for astronomical data analysis and visualization, with the focus primarily on tools in the Astropy library and its affiliated packages. The goal is to introduce participants to the variety of tools which are available inside the Astropy library, and to provide time for participants to explore the science analysis capabilities which the scientific Python ecosystem and community provide. The format will include short presentations followed by instructor-guided tutorials where participants will use the tools and be able to ask questions in the company of expert users and developers.

We will first introduce the core Astropy package including units, quantities, and constants; coordinates; FITS, ASCII and Astropy tables; an introduction to object-oriented programming using lightcurves as the example data structure; images and their visualization; modeling; and other sub-packages. Then we may cover a few coordinated packages such as CCD image reduction (ccdproc), photometry (photutils), and spectroscopy (specutils).

Participants must bring a laptop with software installed, or be willing to use a Binder session in the cloud. We can support Mac OS X, Linux, and Windows 10+ operating systems. Support for Windows machines will require the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL; see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/). In-person participants needing installation help can come early to the workshop room to receive assistance. 

The workshop materials will be presented using Jupyter notebooks. The workshop repository is https://github.com/astropy/astropy-workshop

Prerequisites: Some familiarity with Python and Numpy will be helpful but is not required. We will send some suggested tutorials before the workshop for those with no prior Python experience. Some familiarity with git and Github will be useful for installing the workshop software on your own computer, though we will try to minimize the need for those tools.

Engaging Students with New Data-Driven Astronomy Investigations    
Sunday, 8 January 9:00 am - 1:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00 

Looking for a way to actively engage your students in learning core ideas in astronomy? Rubin Observatory’s Education and Public Outreach team has developed a suite of classroom-tested online investigations that incorporate a unique combination of data-representations, simulations and analysis tasks to guide learners’ exploration of contemporary astronomy data. Each standalone investigation comes with a teacher guide, formative/summative assessments (think-pair-share, pre/post, and open-ended), and NGSS support (phenomenon, rubrics, etc.). The investigations are designed for novice learners from advanced middle school through the introductory college level and cover topics ranging from Hubble's Law to Hazardous Asteroids. This workshop will take a deep dive into an investigation on small bodies of the Solar System that can enhance students’ data analysis and evidence-based reasoning abilities, and their understanding of Kepler’s Laws, Newton’s Laws, gravity, and the formation of the Solar System. Participants will have time to explore this investigation and discuss ideas for successfully integrating it into their classroom. 

Accessing NASA's Astrophysics Archives using Python
Sunday, 8 January 8, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00

NASA's astrophysics archives preserve many terabytes of multi-wavelength images, catalogs, and spectra. While many astronomers are familiar with web-based tools that are convenient for searching and visualizing these data, programmatic interfaces through Python are increasingly in demand. This hands-on workshop will introduce participants to the programmatic data access tools available and the tutorial notebooks we offer. Note that we use NASA data in our examples, but the tools and methods are generic. We will describe science scenarios that combine multi-wavelength data from the HEASARC, IRSA, NED, and MAST that participants will then be encouraged to work through themselves. Workshop organizers will be available to help participants with them or adapt them for custom projects.

Help NASA Observe Distant Worlds with Exoplanet Watch
Sunday, 8 January, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm (In-person)
Registration fee: $35.00

This workshop will introduce attendees to Exoplanet Watch! Exoplanet Watch is a citizen science project, currently geared toward amateur astronomers and astronomy students at colleges and universities, to observe transiting exoplanets — planets outside of our Solar System — with ground-based telescopes. Observing exoplanet transits is important, as they provide direct measurement of a planet's radius and composition. Ground-based observations, particularly with small telescopes (<1 meter) constrain the exoplanet’s orbital period (how quickly a planet orbits around its host star) which in turn provides better mass measurements. Exoplanet Watch will help increase the efficiency of exoplanet studies by large telescopes (like JWST) to characterize exoplanet atmospheres by reducing uncertainty about the predicted timing of transit events. 

Workshop participants will learn how to reduce transit light-curves using EXOplanet Transit Interpretatiode Code (EXOTIC; https://github.com/rzellem/EXOTIC). EXOTIC is a Python 3 package developed for the analysis of photometric (light) data of transiting exoplanets. In this workshop, we will show participants how to use EXOTIC through a Colab Notebook on Google Drive (only an active gmail account is required). Participants will learn what EXOTIC does "under the hood," reduce a set of sample data using EXOTIC, and discover how their data can be credited in future scientific publications.

This workshop is geared towards students who want to get involved in exoplanet research in an accessible way, and for instructors/advisors who may want to utilize Exoplanet Watch with their students. Come help NASA observe distant worlds with us!

Engage with NASA’s Science Activation Program: Tools for using NASA Astrophysics in Informal STEM Learning
Sunday, 8 January, 10:00 am - 12:00 pm (Hybrid)
Registration fee: $35.00  

Would you like to engage with STEM learners in venues such as museums, science centers, planetariums, libraries, and community colleges? Do you work with these audiences already or do you want to reach them? Are you looking for JWST resources to use in your programming?

Join us for a workshop to learn how NASA’s Science Activation teams are working to meet the needs of learners and science experts in today’s world, how you can become involved, and walk away with NASA resources, developed by Science Activation programs, that you can use in your own outreach efforts.

Moving through a series of stations, participants will connect with programs looking for expert volunteers to help deliver current and accurate NASA astrophysics content to audiences across the country, explore current astrophysics themes and learning pathways, and learn about programs and resources for working with different audiences. 

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has funded a cooperative network of competitively-selected teams to connect NASA’s science, data, and science experts with learners of all ages in a way that activates minds and promotes deeper understanding of our world and beyond. Together this network of funded projects is called the Science Activation Collective (science.nasa.gov/learners). The workshop will include information from several Science Activation teams, such as NASA’s Universe of Learning, NASA Community College Network, and the SME Community of Practice for Education. 

Effective Astronomy Visualizations for Research, Outreach, and Learning   
Sunday, 8 January, 1:00 pm - 5:00 pm (Hybrid)
Registration fee: $35.00 

Clear and powerful visualizations are a critical component of science communications whether the audience is researchers, students, or the general public. Today’s astronomy visualizations comprise an ever-expanding collection of disciplines that include traditional fields of image processing, data presentation, and illustration, as well as emerging technologies like data sonification, 3D printing, and virtual/augmented reality experiences.

The goal of this workshop is to connect the many communities represented within the AAS (including students, educators, communicators, developers, and researchers) interested in the many areas of astronomy visualization. Presenters will share lessons learned through discussions of best practices for a variety of audiences. They will survey a wide range of visualization techniques and address their advantages and accessibility for different styles of learning. Case studies of effective visualizations will showcase how to communicate both knowledge and wonder via inspiring graphics.

Workshop participants will experience an overview of the current state of astronomy visualization including planning, creation, and delivery phases of the process. They will gain an enhanced appreciation for the selection of visualization-appropriate topics and datasets, the efforts and expertise required to achieve quality products, and the storytelling methods to reach learners of diverse backgrounds. In addition, participants will be encouraged to bring examples of their own projects, or pose particular visualization challenges to the group.

This workshop is facilitated by NASA’s Universe of Learning (www.universe-of-learning.org) with the goal of contributing to an expanding community of practice for those engaged in the many aspects of astronomy visualization, or "AstroViz."

Robotic Telescope Labs for Survey-Level Undergraduates    
Sunday, 8 January, 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm (Hybrid)
Registration fee: $35.00  


For the past dozen years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been developing a unique, survey-level astronomy curriculum, primarily for undergraduate students, with the goal of significantly boosting STEM enrollments on a national scale, as well as boosting students’ technical and research skills. Called “Our Place In Space!”, or OPIS!, this curriculum leverages “Skynet” – a global network of ≈20 fully automated, or robotic, professional-grade telescopes that we have deployed at some of the world’s best observing sites. The curriculum has now been adopted by ≈2 dozen institutions, and we have just received (1) $1.85M from NSF's IUSE program to expand it nationwide, and (2) $3M from DoD’s NDEP program (a) to integrate a global network of 10m – 30m diameter radio telescopes into Skynet, and (b) to develop a follow-up curriculum to OPIS!

Both grants come with funding for new instructors. The NSF grant pays up to $3,500 per adopting instructor to learn, implement, and help to improve the OPIS! curriculum. The DoD grant pays up to $9,000 per instructor to help to develop and trial the follow-up curriculum, which will be called “Astrophotography of the Multi-Wavelength Universe!”, or MWU!.

OPIS! is a Skynet-based laboratory curriculum for undergraduates in small to very large, introductory survey courses – and works equally well online as in person. OPIS! consists of eight, and soon nine, labs in which students use the same research instrumentation as professionals to collect their own data. They then use this self-collected data (astronomical images and spectra) to reproduce some of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the past 400 years, and gain technical and research skills at the same time. Although students are not carrying out cutting-edge research, they are using cutting-edge research instrumentation, and consequently there is great overlap with the Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) pathway model. Furthermore, these labs/observing experiences are specifically designed to pair with standard introductory astronomy curricula, facilitating widespread adoption.

OPIS! is built around the cosmic distance ladder, which serves as an organizing principle in many introductory astronomy courses/sequences, and as such, it reinforces students’ classroom experiences. The goal of OPIS! is to move beyond laboratory experiences in which students learn how to use a telescope for its own sake, to instead use them to do science – the same science that they are learning in class.

MWU! will be for students who have already completed OPIS!, and will be able to provide this smaller group of students more telescope time per student, making possible color- and radio mapping-, inquiry-based explorations. MWU! will consist of three optical, three radio, and two capstone observing experiences that integrate optical and radio, on the subjects of stars, galaxies, and light-producing mechanisms. Astrophotography will serve as this curriculum’s “hook”.

Skynet allows students to acquire professional-quality images from multiple, professional-quality telescopes and sites around the world. However, this is only half the battle. Students also need to be able to explore their images, and make fundamental measurements from them, around which relevant laboratory experiences can be designed. As such, we have additionally developed Afterglow Access.

Afterglow Access is a web application, written in AngularJS. The advantage of being a web application is that students do not need to install it, and updates can be done server-side. Furthermore, Afterglow Access is connected to Skynet’s 100 TB RAID, so students do not need to download, independently store, and re-upload their images. Nor do they even need a quality computer, as the heaviest computational lifting (e.g., processing/analyzing many images simultaneously) is handled server-side as well.

In this workshop, participants will be given accounts on both Skynet and Afterglow Access, and observing credits on Skynet. We will learn how to queue observations on Skynet, and will carry out at least one of the OPIS! observing experiences (other OPIS! activities will be overviewed more quickly). We will also explore the color-combination and radio-mapping capabilities that we are developing for MWU!.

Lastly, we will hear from Geneva Lake Astrophysics and STEM (GLAS), which is leading our accessibility efforts, both for the Skynet and Afterglow Access interfaces, but also for ≈65 overview and tutorial videos that we developed to accompany the OPIS! curriculum. (These videos are now receiving ≈350 views/day for ≈25 hours viewed/day on YouTube.) GLAS is also working with disability services at participating universities, and will work directly with deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) and blind and visually impaired (BVI) students during the grant periods.