5 September 2019

Surf's Up! Join Us at the 235th AAS Meeting in Honolulu!

Richard Fienberg, AAS Press Officer

There's no National Football League franchise in Hawai‘i, so the Super Bowl isn't heading to the Aloha State anytime in the foreseeable future. But the "Paradise of the Pacific" is home to some of the world's largest telescopes, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that the Super Bowl of Astronomy — otherwise known as the AAS winter meeting — will soon touch down in Honolulu. From 4 to 8 January 2020, more than 2,000 astronomers, students, educators, and journalists will gather at the Hawai‘i Convention Center (1801 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815) for the 235th AAS meeting. Gathering with the AAS this winter, as usual, are its Historical Astronomy Division (HAD) and High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD). Social media hashtag: #aas235.

Special note: In contrast with the usual Sunday-Thursday schedule, AAS 235 begins on a Saturday and ends on a Wednesday.

Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head in Honolulu

Astronomy has a long tradition in Hawai‘i. Early Polynesian sailors relied on their deep knowledge of the night sky to navigate among the widely separated islands of the Pacific Ocean. The landmark Diamond Head volcano on O‘ahu, visible from Honolulu's famed Waikiki Beach, was the site of a 1910 expedition to photograph Halley's Comet. Grote Reber did some of his pioneering work in radio astronomy on Maui. That island's highest peak, Haleakalā, now hosts several important observatories, including the 4-meter Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), which is nearing first light. And towering Maunakea, on the Big Island, is home to most of the Northern Hemisphere's 8- to 10-meter telescopes but is currently mired in controversy over plans to build the next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope there.

Registration & Abstract Submission

Registration for AAS 235 is now open! Register by Wednesday, 25 September, to get the best price. Rates increase by 12% on 26 September, then by another 13% on 30 October, so the earlier you register, the more you save. See the AAS 235 Registration page for more information, and note that if you are registering a guest you must click on the "+ Add Guest" option under "My Registration Status."

Abstract submission is open too! AAS 235 will feature contributed oral presentations, printed posters, and digital interactive iPosters. To share your latest research with an eager audience of scientists at all career stages, submit your abstract in one of more than 50 topical categories by Tuesday, 8 October 2019, at 9:00 pm Eastern time. For late-breaking discoveries, late abstracts will be accepted (for iPosters and iPoster-Plus presentations only; see below) through Thursday, 7 November, at 9:00 pm ET. See our Abstract Instructions and Abstract Information pages for rules and regulations, login instructions, and more.

At the June 2019 AAS meeting in St. Louis, we introduced a new presentation type that was a big hit: the iPoster-Plus, which combines a short talk with an iPoster. For brief explainers of all four contributed presentation types, check out our YouTube videos:

Note that we recently changed our abstract management system. The new system, hosted by CTI Meeting Technology's cOASIS and cPAPER, encourages participation by saving time for submitters, volunteer reviewers, and AAS staff. This software increases the quality of all abstracts by integrating our membership database, enabling the customization of forms and simplification of co-author searches.

Travel & Lodging

As noted above, AAS 235 unusually runs from Saturday, 4 January 2020, to Wednesday, 8 January, though some workshops (see below) begin on Friday, 3 January, so plan your travel accordingly.

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

  • Hilton Hawai‘ian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
  • Sheraton Waikiki Resort
  • Sheraton Princess Kaiulani (students & government employees only)

By staying at our official conference hotels, you help keep AAS meeting costs down for everyone. See the AAS 235 Travel & Lodging page for rates, instructions for making your reservation, and additional information. The deadline for reserving rooms at discounted AAS group rates is 12 December 2019.

Workshops Galore!

When you register for the meeting, you may also sign up for your choice(s) among more than two-dozen professional-development workshops. Described on our AAS 235 Workshops & Events page, they feature instruction in specific software tools, programming tips, 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. Some begin on Friday or Saturday, 3 or 4 January, while others are scheduled during the main part of the meeting from Sunday through Wednesday. Some are free, most require payment of a modest fee, and one (the AAS Astronomy Ambassadors workshop) requires that you apply to participate.


The HAD meeting gets under way on Saturday afternoon, 4 January, starting with an assortment of short oral presentations and continuing with the first of two HAD Special Sessions about 100th anniversaries. "Centennial of Eddington's Solar Eclipse Tests of Einstein's General Relativity" recalls the May 1919 total solar eclipse that made Einstein a household name when his prediction that the Sun's gravity would bend starlight was confirmed. Astro-historian Robert W. Smith (University of Alberta), recipient of HAD's 2020 LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for his scholarship and writing on the history of NASA's space telescopes, will give his prize lecture, "From the Invention of Astrophysics to the Space Age: The Transformation of Astronomy 1860-1990," on Sunday afternoon. HAD's other centennial Special Session, "IAU-100: Celebrating 100 Years of International Astronomy," about the International Astronomical Union, convenes on Monday afternoon.

HEAD hosts two Special Sessions on Monday, 6 January, with "Are Disks Just Disks? The Commonalities of Protoplanetary and Black Hole Accretion" in the morning and "Black Holes in the Mass Gaps" that afternoon. Later the same day, Brian Metzger (Columbia University) and Daniel Kasen (University of California, Berkeley) will present the HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize lecture about their work predicting the electromagnetic signatures from radioactive nuclei produced in neutron star mergers.

AAS 235 Banner

Prize Lectures & Invited Talks

AAS 235 offers more than a dozen additional prize and invited talks by distinguished astronomers. Like all winter AAS meetings, this one is bookended by two special presentations. The opening plenary talk, on Sunday morning, 5 January, is the Kavli Foundation Plenary Lecture. Suvi Gezari (University of Maryland) will present "Black Holes Snacking on Stars: A Systematic Exploration of Transients in Galaxy Nuclei" based on her studies of tidal disruption events. The closing plenary talk, on Wednesday afternoon, 8 January, is the Lancelot M. Berkeley - New York Community Trust Prize lecture, to be given by Sheperd S. Doeleman (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian), director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT), which recently dazzled science enthusiasts worldwide with its image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87.

Ann M. Boesgaard (University of Hawai‘i) will present the Henry Norris Russell Lecture about her work using light-element abundances to test Big Bang nucleosynthesis and to probe stellar structure and stellar evolution. 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 Honolulu we'll hear from Robert C. Kennicutt (University of Arizona and Texas A&M University), who received the 2019 Gold Medal for his contributions to understanding star formation in galaxies and to determining the value of the Hubble constant.

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. Giving his prize lecture in January is the latest recipient, Edwin (Ted) Bergin (University of Michigan), who was honored for his work in astrochemistry — especially his innovative contributions to our understanding of the physics and chemistry of star and planet formation — and for his tireless efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in astronomy. Rounding out the prize lectures at AAS 235 are Daniel R. Weisz (University of California, Berkeley), recipient of the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize for his research on the star-formation histories of dwarf galaxies in the Local Group, and Jo Bovy (University of Toronto), whose contributions to our understanding of the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way and his work on forward modeling of large scientific data sets netted him the Helen B. Warner Prize (and, soon thereafter, the Vera Rubin Early Career Prize from the AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy).

In addition we'll hear invited talks by Kālepa Baybayan and Kala Baybayan Tanaka (Polynesian Voyaging Society) on Hawai‘ian celestial navigation, Timothy Heckman (Johns Hopkins University) on galaxy evolution, Andrea Dupree (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian) on stellar chemistry, Jennifer van Saders (University of Hawai‘i) on stellar structure and variability, Jason Hessels (ASTRON & University of Amsterdam) on fast radio bursts, Peter Eisenhardt (Jet Propulsion Lab) and James De Buizer (SOFIA Science Center) on the future of infrared astronomy, and Hawai‘ian language advocate Amy Kalili ('Ōiwi TV) on the stewardship of Maunakea from the perspective of both the Hawai‘ian and the astronomical communities.

Special Sessions & Town Halls

There will also be a wide variety of contributed oral and poster presentations, many of them showcased in no fewer than 36 Special Sessions, including the HAD and HEAD ones already mentioned as well as "Astrobiology and the Search for Intelligent Life in the 2020s," "Breakthrough Science with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array," "Gravitational-Wave Astronomy: The LIGO-Virgo Third Observing Run and Plans for the Future," "NASA's Parker Solar Probe: First Encounters with the Sun," "New Horizons Results at 2014 MU69," "Survival Skills for Astronomers: Posters, Presentations, and Proposals," and "Transient Science with TESS." Truly something for everyone!

Our AAS Publishing team has been very busy. After launching Research Notes of the AAS and a revitalized Bulletin of the AAS, the AAS and our partners at IOP Publishing, in conjunction with the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences, recently unveiled the new Planetary Science Journal. Come meet the editors and other representatives of AAS Publishing to learn about our new journals, new publishing tools, and new guidelines. In a second session with our collaborators at the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) and Zenodo, you'll see a demonstration of Asclepias, a system of new tools and standards funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to improve astronomical software discovery and citation.

In addition, the Honolulu program features a baker's dozen of 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, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the National Academy of Sciences' Astro2020 decadal survey committee. There will be facility- and mission-focused Town Halls too, for example, on the James Webb Space Telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, and DKIST. The American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) will hold a Town Hall entitled "Optimum Science from Connecting Professionals with Citizen Volunteers," which is especially timely in light of the AAS's recent acquisition of Sky & Telescope, and NASA and NSF will convene a joint Town Hall on multi-messenger astrophysics.

Public Events: RAS @ 200, Star Party & "Physics of Pō"

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in the United Kingdom encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics, and closely related branches of science. Founded in 1820, the RAS is kicking off its bicentennial celebration with two events to be held during our meeting at the Bishop Museum planetarium, about a 20-minute drive from the convention center. On Saturday evening, 4 January, meeting attendees and the general public are invited to a special planetarium show, The Planets 360 (admission fee: $10). Weather permitting, members of the Hawai‘ian Astronomical Society will set up some telescopes on the museum's observation deck too. Then, on Tuesday evening, 7 January, the RAS will host a bicentennial reception for RAS Fellows, AAS Officers and Trustees, and as many other AAS members as they can accommodate (first come, first served). Following the reception, there will be another screening of The Planets 360 on the dome.

The Planets 360 is a re-imagining of British composer Gustav Holst's The Planets suite. It uses the awe-inspiring Fulldome format to create a sonically driven immersive experience. The show aims to bring new audiences to the planetarium by fusing art, music, and science into a 360° spectacle. The classic version of the show uses Holst's original music, making use of stunning spacecraft images of the planets imagined by the composer. Inspired graphics and captivating newly commissioned scores give a fresh spin on our understanding of our solar system neighbors. The Planets 360 is a project by NSC Creative, supported by the RAS's anniversary £1 million RAS200 funding scheme, designed to bring astronomy and related sciences to people not usually engaged with them.

On Sunday evening, 5 January, join University of Hawai‘i astronomer Roy Gal and friends at Ala Moana Park, a short walk from the convention center, for a star party featuring telescopic views of celestial highlights of the Hawai‘ian winter sky.

The following evening, Monday, 6 January, the AAS will welcome the general public to join meeting attendees at the convention center for a special joint presentation by Larry Kimura (University of Hawai‘i) and Doug Simons (Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope). Entitled "Physics of Pō," it explores the intersection of astronomy and Hawai‘ian culture by examining the first 11 lines of the 2,102-line Kumulipo, a thousand-year-old Hawai‘ian creation chant whose name means "beginning in deep darkness." Kimura, an associate professor of the Hawai‘ian language, and Simons, director of one of the observatories atop Maunakea, discuss parallels between the text of the chant and our scientific understanding of the creation and evolution of the universe. The first time they gave the presentation, in July 2019 at the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo, they spoke to a sold-out, standing-room-only crowd that paid rapt attention and asked a wide variety of thoughtful questions.

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall is the main "watering hole" at AAS meetings, a veritable hive of activity (apologies for the mixed metaphors). Honolulu will certainly be no exception, with lots of oversize pavilions featuring exhibitors such as NASA's Science Mission Directorate, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center, the Maunakea Observatories, and the AAS itself. In addition to many other exhibitors and row upon row of bulletin boards with printed poster presentations, the Exhibit Hall will host 40 iPoster terminals, three iPoster-Plus theaters, the AAS Career Center and student pavilion, and our Donor & Sponsor Lounge. Check out our growing list of exhibitors.

Hawai‘i in January: What's not to like?! If you have any questions about AAS 235, please contact our meetings team at 202-328-2010. We look forward to seeing you in Honolulu!