At Tuesday’s Decadal Survey Town Hall, Astro2010 committee member and AAS Councilor Meg Urry (Yale Univ.), center, offered to buy drinks for the first two early-career astronomers to step forward and ask questions. Undergraduate Teresa Wright and grad student Alec Hirschauer (both Indiana Univ.) obliged, and their drinks showed up shortly after this photo was snapped. Courtesy Alec Hirschauer.
Hours before Sunday’s opening reception, the AAS Council met to do the Society’s business, some of which—like ratifying the recommendations of the award committees—was actually quite enjoyable! Photo by Kevin B. Marvel, © 2011 AAS.
At the AAS banquet on Wednesday evening, Debra Elmegreen presented the Joseph Weber Award to Donald Hall (Univ. of Hawaii) for his innovative contributions to the development of low-noise detectors for infrared astronomy. Photo by Kevin B. Marvel.
Also at the banquet, Virginia Trimble (UC Irvine) received the George Van Biesbroeck Prize honoring her many years of dedicated service to the national and international communities of astronomers, including her expert assessments of progress in all fields of astrophysics and her significant roles in supporting organizations, boards, committees, and foundations in the cause of astronomy. Photo by Kevin B. Marvel.
Stephanie Slater and Dan Lyons (both Univ. of Wyoming) led a workshop entitled “Astronomy Is a Verb: Engaging ASTR 101 Students in Astronomical Research” on Sunday afternoon. Unless otherwise credited, all photos are by Leeland and Kelley Knight Heins, © 2011 AAS.
A remarkable turnout of college students, many of them members of the Society of Physics Students, led to a standing-room-only crowd at the undergraduate reception that immediately preceded the opening reception on Sunday evening. This bodes well for the future of the AAS and astronomy more generally!
Former AAS Secretary Arlo Landolt and former AAS Press Officer Steve Maran were among the many celebrants who kicked off the meeting with food, drinks, and conversation at the opening reception.
John Mather (NASA/Goddard), who shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in physics, launched the scientific program with an opening address that stressed the crucial role of the James Webb Space Telescope in advancing astronomy during the coming decade.
Press activities got under way Monday morning with a briefing on exoplanets and their host stars featuring Ed Guinan (Villanova Univ.), Geoff Marcy (UC Berkeley), Natalie Batalha (San Jose State Univ.), and, believe it or not, one of two Univ. of Washington graduate students named Adam Kowalski (the other studies anthropology).
Carolyn Porco (CICLOPS/Space Science Inst.) gave the inaugural Kavli Lecture, “Cassini Eyes the Rings of Saturn,” on Monday morning. Celebrating with her are Miyoung Chun (Kavli Foundation) and AAS President Debra Elmegreen (Vassar College).
Harvey Tananbaum (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) reviewed key results from the Chandra X-ray Observatory’s first decade-plus in space during his Monday invited talk.
After receiving his prize certificate from Debra Elmegreen, Tommaso Treu (UC Santa Barbara) gave his Pierce Prize lecture, “Dark Matter and Black Holes Over Cosmic Time.”
At another Monday press conference, the subject was active galactic nuclei and their environment. Presenters included Bill Keel (Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa), Kevin Schawinski (Yale Univ.), Leo Blitz (UC Berkeley), and Amy Reines (Univ. of Virginia). AAS Press Officer Rick Fienberg officiated.
At a news briefing on Monday afternoon, Michael Briggs (Univ. of Alabama, Huntsville) and Julie McEnery (NASA/Goddard) described Fermi observations of electron-positron pairs associated with terrestrial gamma-ray flashes. Joseph Dwyer (Florida Inst. of Technology) and Steven Cummer (Duke Univ.) also participated, but by telephone, which is why they are not in the picture.
Joseph Moore and Shanique Brown (both Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville) presented posters exploring different aspects of the Zooniverse family of citizen-science projects.
Paul Goldsmith (JPL/Caltech) launched Tuesday’s science program with an invited talk on early results from the Herschel Space Observatory, the largest astronomical telescope currently in orbit.
Deputy Press Officer Larry Marschall (Gettysburg College) emceed the Tuesday-afternoon briefing, during which Matt Holman (CfA) and Lynne Jones (Univ. of Washington) discussed results from Pan-STARRS’ survey of the outer solar system and how future observations by LSST will extend them. Greg Laughlin (UC Santa Cruz) participated by phone to put current and future studies in historical context.
Tuesday morning’s briefing featured some of the first science results from the Planck spacecraft. Charles Lawrence (JPL) described the mission’s early-release source catalog, George Helou (IPAC/Caltech) reported the discovery of ultracold cores in galactic star-forming regions, and Elena Pierpaoli (Univ. of So. Calif.) unveiled distant clusters of galaxies detected via the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effect.
The remote universe was the subject of a midday Wednesday briefing. Rogier Windhorst (Arizona State Univ.) explored how gravitational lensing bias will affect JWST’s deep surveys of the first-light epoch. Peter Capak (Caltech) reported high levels of activity in a massive protocluster of galaxies at a redshift of 5.3. And Haojing Yan (Ohio State Univ.) explained how lensing distorts galaxy counts at very high redshifts.
Tuesday’s poster session featured presentations by teachers and students from several Wisconsin high schools serving young scientists with vision and hearing disabilities. Back: Nicholas Xamplas, Rozina Kanjee, Jennifer Van Der Mollen, Mark Doering, Vivian Hoette (Yerkes Obs./Univ. of Chicago), Connie Gartner. Middle: Anna McCartney, Lyssa Matsche. Front: Lee Gamble, Kevin McCarron, Chelen Johnson.
Scott Ransom (NRAO) received the Warner Prize from Debra Elmegreen, then gave a stirring lecture on millisecond pulsars, which he calls “the gifts that keep on giving.”
Among the recipients of the first Rodger Doxsey Travel Prizes were (front row) Vithal Tilvi (Arizona State Univ.), Jacqueline Faherty (AMNH), Janet Colucci (UC Santa Cruz), Rudy Montez (RIT), and (back row) Jarron Leisenring (Univ. of Virginia), John Tobin (Univ. of Michigan), Daniel Perley (UC Berkeley), and Roberto Galvan-Madrid (CfA).
At a Thursday briefing Joshua Frieman (Fermilab/Univ. of Chicago) described the forthcoming Dark Energy Survey, and Sukanya Chakrabarti (UC Berkeley) explained how to find dark-matter-dominated companions to the Milky Way. David Pooley (Eureka Scientific) reported new dark-matter measurements in lensed quasars, and Ryan Foley (CfA) unveiled a refinement in Type Ia supernova light curves that should aid in the study of dark energy.
On Thursday morning, Abigail Stewart (Univ. of Michigan) gave an eye-opening plenary talk entitled “Addressing Unconscious Bias: Steps Toward an Inclusive Scientific Culture.”
Keel and Schawinski described evidence that Hanny’s Voorwerp shines with the light of a quasar that shut down only recently in the neighboring galaxy IC 2497. Assisting with the Q&A after the briefing were Dutch schoolteacher Hanny Van Arkel, who discovered the Voorwerp (“object”) while volunteering with the Galaxy Zoo project, and Zookeepers Chris Lintott (Adler Planetarium) and Robert Simpson (Oxford Univ.). Photo by Rick Fienberg, © 2011 AAS.
Before closing the meeting late Thursday afternoon, AAS President Debra Elmegreen presented the inaugural Lawrence Berkeley – New York Community Trust Prize to Kepler team leaders David Koch and Bill Borucki (both NASA/Ames), who then described the mission’s development and some of its early exoplanet discoveries. Photo by Rick Fienberg.