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From the Executive Office

Thursday, September 19, 2013 - 16:56

In his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” psychologist Abraham Maslow placed the need for love and belonging above essential physiological and safety requirements in his hierarchy of needs. Anthropology makes a more basic argument: for our prehistoric ancestors, belonging meant survival; humans evolved into social creatures who are wired to coexist in groups. One such group is the American Astronomical Society, which provides a professional affiliation, vast interpersonal connections, shared values, and a sense of common purpose. For anyone studying or working in the astronomical sciences, membership in the AAS is a lifeline.

Not long ago I had a conversation with a young astronomer who had only recently joined the Society. He shared that while he was in graduate school he wasn’t encouraged to belong to the AAS. His advisor thought that our meetings weren’t conducive to presenting student research, that students would get lost in such big gatherings. He said that in retrospect he wished he had joined the Society and begun attending AAS meetings much sooner, to take advantage of the career workshops and networking opportunities. He also would have been able to compete for a Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Award and to present a dissertation talk.

We are now entering our annual membership renewal period. Reminders to renew will soon be emailed and/or snail-mailed to all current members. I hope you’ll respond by rushing online to and renewing electronically. This saves us time and money, because we won’t have to follow up with more reminders.

But perhaps you’ll reflect on the past year, wonder whether you got your money’s worth out of the Society, and set aside your renewal notice, knowing that you have until the end of the year to decide what to do. If so, think of Maslow and what it means to belong to a professional association. The AAS offers much more than the esprit de corps that comes from being part of a group with common interests and expertise. The Society publishes the leading journals in our field, advocates for our community’s policy interests in the nation’s capital, and unites thousands of astrophysicists, planetary scientists, and other researchers in pursuing our mission to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.

If such “big picture” reasons aren’t enough to convince you to renew, I invite you to review the many specific benefits of membership listed on our website at In addition to those, we’re introducing two new ones. First, most members will now have the option to renew for two years at once, saving you money by locking you into the 2014 rate for 2015 too. This applies not only to your basic AAS membership but also to your division memberships and your electronic journal subscriptions.

Second, if you renew before 31 December 2013, you’ll receive a coupon for a 15% discount off your share of author charges for one scholarly article accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal or the Astronomical Journal during calendar year 2014. Better yet, if you take advantage of the option to renew for two years at once, you’ll get two author-discount coupons: one for 2014 and another for 2015!

The staff of the AAS Executive Office is intensely dedicated to serving you. Through our meetings, publications, policy advocacy, career services, and other products and services, our objective is to help you succeed in your research, teaching, and other endeavors. We welcome your ideas, suggestions, and comments. Thanks in advance for renewing, and thank you for your commitment to the Society.

Faye Peterson
Former Membership Services Manager
American Astronomical Society
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