17 November 2021

Join Us at the 239th AAS Meeting in Salt Lake City!

Susanna Kohler

Susanna Kohler American Astronomical Society (AAS)

239th Meeting Banner


Astronomers will be gathering in Salt Lake City, Utah, this January for the first in-person meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) in two years. From 9 to 13 January 2022, astronomers, students, educators, and journalists will gather at the Salt Palace Convention Center (100 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84101) for the 239th AAS meeting. With an additional complement of attendees participating virtually, this meeting is sure to be one of the astronomical sciences’ biggest conferences of the year. Social media hashtag: #aas239.

Salt Lake City is no stranger to astronomy and space sciences. The industry around Salt Lake City has a long history of supporting spaceflight — from the development of the Space Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters to the current work on the Space Launch System, NASA’s upcoming super heavy-lift launch vehicle. Instruments for well-known astronomy missions — like the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) and the OSIRIS-REx mission to asteroid Bennu — were also built in the area.

In addition, the region surrounding Salt Lake City has plenty of opportunities for people to access the night sky, from planetariums and observatories — including the Stansbury Park Observatory Complex, which houses some of the most powerful amateur telescopes in the world available to the public — to a number of certified dark-sky parks within a short drive of the city.


Registration for AAS 239 is still open! Regular registration ends on 30 November; after that, registration rates increase. There will be no onsite registration available, so make sure you’re registered before the close of late registration on 4 January. Note that all in-person AAS 239 attendees will be required to provide proof of vaccination via a secure, third-party site before they can register. The confirmation of this proof can take up to 48 hours, so please plan ahead!

Travel & Lodging

The AAS has contracted with four hotels near the convention center for blocks of rooms at specially discounted rates:

•    Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek
•    Hilton Salt Lake City Center
•    Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel
•    Salt Lake Plaza Hotel (government employees & students only)

By staying at our official conference hotels, you help keep AAS meeting costs down for everyone. See the AAS 239 Travel & Lodging page for rates, availability, instructions for making your reservation, and additional information. The deadline for reserving rooms at discounted AAS group rates is 16 December 2021 for the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel and 17 December 2021 for the other hotels.

Pre-Meeting Workshops

When you register for the meeting, you may also sign up for your choice(s) among more than a dozen professional-development workshops. Described on our AAS 239 Program Highlights page, they feature instruction in specific software tools, scientific presentation training, career advice, teaching and outreach strategies, proposal-writing guidance, and much more. Some last just a few hours, while others run a full day or even two days. Workshops are currently all scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, 8 and 9 January, before the main meeting begins. Some are free, most require payment of a modest fee, and one (the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors workshop) requires that you apply to participate.


This winter’s AAS meeting will be jointly held, as usual, with the Society’s Historical Astronomy Division (HAD) and High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD). The HAD meeting will include Special Sessions such as “Celebrating William Herschel's Bicentennial (1738–1822)” and “Centennial of an Eclipse: The 1922 Expedition that Clinched the Case for General Relativity,” as well as splinter meetings on the preservation of astronomical heritage. Astro-historian William H. Donahue (St. John’s College / Green Lion Press) will give a prize lecture on Monday, 10 January, as the recipient of HAD’s 2021 LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for his decades-long career of scholarship and translations of critical and complex scientific works such as Johannes Kepler’s Astronomia Nova (New Astronomy, 1609).

HEAD will host two Special Sessions at AAS 239: one on Monday, 10 January, in which the 2020 and 2021 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and Astrophysics winners (Roger Blandford, Victoria Kaspi, and Chryssa Kouveliotou) will talk about their award-winning work, and one on Tuesday, 11 January, featuring groundbreaking results on neutron star interiors and exteriors based on recent observations. On Monday afternoon, Francis Halzen (University of Wisconsin-Madison) will present the HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize lecture about the IceCube Collaboration’s discovery of a high-energy neutrino flux of astrophysical origin.

Prize Lectures & Invited Talks

AAS 239 will offer more than a dozen additional prize and invited talks by distinguished astronomers. The meeting opens on Monday morning, 10 January, with the Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecture; the identity of the Kavli lecturer will be announced soon. The closing plenary talk, on Thursday afternoon, 13 January, is the Lancelot M. Berkeley – New York Community Trust Prize lecture, to be given jointly by Paul Scholz (University of Toronto) and Victoria Kaspi (McGill University) on behalf of the CHIME/FRB team. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment fast radio burst (FRB) team has discovered more than 500 new FRBs, providing valuable insight that has helped astronomers pinpoint the origins of these enigmatic signals.

Nicholas Scoville (Caltech) will present the Henry Norris Russell Lecture about his contributions to our understanding of molecular gas and star formation in the Milky Way and other galaxies. Via an exchange with the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), the AAS Russell lecturer also gives a talk at an RAS meeting, and in return the recipient of the RAS Gold Medal in Astronomy speaks at one of our meetings. In Salt Lake City we’ll hear from Jocelyn Bell Burnell (University of Oxford, UK), who received the 2021 Gold Medal for her research work, which established the field of pulsar astronomy, and for her national and international leadership roles in astronomy.

The Dannie Heineman Prize for outstanding mid-career work in the field of astrophysics is given jointly by the AAS and the American Institute of Physics. The Heineman Prize lecture will be co-presented by the latest recipients, David Weinberg (Ohio State University) and Robert Lupton (Princeton University), who were honored for their essential contributions to facilitating, guiding, and participating in transformative science resulting from modern large-scale astronomical surveys at optical wavelengths.

Rounding out the prize lectures at AAS 239 are Courtney Dressing (University of California, Berkeley), recipient of the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize for her work to understand the formation rate, composition, and evolution of planets around low-mass M dwarf stars; and Laura Kreidberg (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Germany), recipient of the Annie Jump Cannon Award for her pioneering research on the structure, composition, and dynamics of exoplanet atmospheres.

In addition, we’ll hear invited plenaries by Héctor Arce (Yale University) on the future of radio science with the Arecibo Observatory, Nia Imara (UC Santa Cruz) on observations of stellar nurseries and what we’ve learned about the birth of stars, Jack Burns (University of Colorado Boulder) on radio astrophysics and cosmology from the Moon, Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (University of New Hampshire) on our latest work to understand dark matter, Allison Strom (Princeton University) on galaxy chemistry in the early universe, and Gail Zasowski (University of Utah) on what we know about the Milky Way in broader galactic context. 

Special Sessions & Town Halls

There will also be a wide variety of contributed oral and poster presentations, many of them showcased in more than 30 Special Sessions, including the HAD and HEAD ones already mentioned as well as “New Views of Extragalactic Supermassive Black Holes with the Event Horizon Telescope,” “Green Astronomy: Addressing Climate Change,” “The extreme interstellar medium in the inner 200 pc of the Galaxy,” “AAS Policy Advocacy for Astro2020,” “Beyond a Billion Galaxies: Preparing the Rubin Observatory LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) for Stage IV Cosmology,” “ALMA Status and Plans for Increased Capability,” and “Tools and Resources for Teaching Astronomy: Moving Beyond the Pandemic.”

In addition, the Salt Lake City program features eleven lunchtime and evening Town Hall meetings on astronomy and public policy featuring representatives from NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Center for Optical-Infrared Astronomy (NOIRLab), the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), and the National Academy of Sciences’ Astro2020 decadal survey committee. There will be facility- and mission-focused Town Halls on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. There will also be a Town Hall entitled “After the 2020 World-Wide Protests: Progress and Failures of Implementing Substantial Change in Astronomy.”

Press Conferences

The AAS 239 schedule will feature press conferences at 10:15 am and 2:15 pm local time each day, Monday through Thursday, in Room 254A. The presenters and briefing titles for the press conferences will be announced soon.

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall is the main hub of AAS meetings where presenters, attendees, and exhibitors can gather, catch up with old friends, collect swag, and talk science. Salt Lake City will certainly be no exception, with lots of oversize pavilions featuring more than 50 exhibitors — including funding agencies, observatories and missions, institutions and labs, and the ever-popular Startorialist jewelry, clothing, and gifts booth. In addition to many other exhibitors and row upon row of bulletin boards with printed poster presentations, the Exhibit Hall will also host iPoster terminals, iPoster-Plus theaters, and the AAS Career Center and student pavilion. Check out our growing list of exhibitors

If you have any questions about AAS 239, please contact our meetings team at 202-328-2010. We look forward to seeing you in Salt Lake City!