The 234th AAS meeting in St. Louis, 9-13 June, features a host of professional development opportunities for attendees at all career stages. Check out the workshops, splinter meetings, and other events listed below in chronological order. Workshop fees are listed; events with no fee shown are free with your conference registration. All events will be held in the St. Louis Union Station Hotel.
Planning for the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses
Saturday, 8 June | 9:30 am – 4:30 pm
Sunday, 9 June | 10:00 am – 3:00 pm
Additional $15 registration fee to attend
In August 2017 the US experienced its first total solar eclipse (TSE) in a generation. In April 2024, now less than five years away, the US will have a second TSE, preceded by an annular solar eclipse (ASE) in October 2023. The AAS Solar Eclipse Task Force ran a series of workshops to prepare the nation for the 2017 TSE. These were instrumental in helping communities in the path of totality manage an influx of visitors; in developing and disseminating appropriate eye-safety information nationwide; and in coordinating the efforts of numerous scientific, educational, governmental, and other organizations to avoid unnecessary overlap. Now is not too early to start planning for the 2023 and 2024 eclipses, taking advantage of lessons learned from the 2017 event. This workshop is aimed at community leaders and other stakeholders both inside the paths of annularity (2023) and/or totality (2024) and outside, for -- as in 2017 -- the entire Lower 48 states will experience at least a deep partial eclipse. We are particularly keen to welcome participants from Canada and Mexico, as the April 2024 TSE graces one or both of those countries too. Attendees will include professional and amateur astronomers; formal and informal educators; representatives of tourism bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, and the hospitality industry; and officials from departments of transportation, state- and national-level parks and forests, law-enforcement agencies, and emergency-management organizations. Invited speakers include event coordinators who experienced the 2017 TSE and will see darkness again in 2024 (e.g., southeastern Missouri and southern Illinois) as well as transportation experts and others who can present studies of the 2017 eclipse and offer recommendations for the upcoming events.
Student Orientation & Grad School Fair
Sunday, 9 June | 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Undergraduate students, their advisors, and those interested in attracting undergraduates to their graduate programs or undergraduate research opportunities are invited to attend this event. Members of the AAS Board of Trustees and the Education Committee will be there to meet and chat with students. For the benefit of those attending their first AAS meeting, we will explain how the conference works and how to get the most out of it. Meet with representatives from graduate schools and Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs.
Big Bang to Biosignatures: The LUVOIR Mission Concept
Monday, 10 June | 10:40 am – 12:10 pm
This splinter meeting will feature a series of talks on the science, engineering, and technology of the Large UV/Optical/IR Surveyor (LUVOIR) mission concept. LUVOIR is one of four decadal survey mission concepts being studied in preparation for the Astro2020 Decadal Survey. This guest-observer-driven observatory will enable revolutionary breakthroughs in astrophysics, solar system science, and exoplanet research. In this meeting, we'll start with an introduction to LUVOIR and the concept study, then move on to talks about LUVOIR's three main science themes: astrophysics, the solar system, and exoplanets. Next, we'll present the current LUVOIR observatory designs and how we're implementing lessons learned about project management from previous missions. Instrument capabilities studied include ultrahigh-contrast, NUV/optical/NIR coronagraphic imaging and spectroscopy; high-resolution, wide-field NUV/optical/NIR imaging; UV/optical imaging and multi-object spectroscopy; and UV spectropolarimetry. We'll end with talks from industry experts on the engineering practices and technologies that will enable the LUVOIR mission.
Introduction to the AAS WorldWide Telescope
Monday, 10 June | 1:40 pm – 2:40 pm
WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is the AAS's official tool for visually exploring humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. WWT is primarily a website that allows users to interactively explore terabytes of astronomical data in a seamlessly integrated 4-D simulation of the known universe. But the open-source WWT software ecosystem also includes a Windows application that can power planetariums, a cloud-based web service for discovering and sharing astronomical data, and a Python module that allows researchers to integrate WWT into their Jupyter notebooks. This interactive tutorial will introduce attendees to all these aspects of WWT as well as its applications to research, education, and public outreach. Bring a laptop to this tutorial. The Chrome web browser is recommended for use with WWT.
Exploring the Diversity and Habitability of Nearby Planetary Systems with HabEx
Monday, 10 June | 2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx) is one of four flagship mission concepts currently under study by NASA in preparation for the 2020 Decadal Survey. HabEx is designed to be the next-generation great UV-optical-near-IR observatory in the post-HST era, with capabilities to address physics of the cosmos, cosmic origins, solar system, and exoplanet science. This session will focus on the cutting-edge exoplanet science enabled by HabEx, mapping nearby planetary systems to understand their diversity and assess their potential habitability.
Revealing the Invisible Universe with the Lynx X-ray Observatory
Monday, 10 June | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Lynx, the next-generation X-ray observatory, will enable unprecedented vision into the otherwise invisible universe with unique power to directly observe the dawn of supermassive black holes, reveal the drivers of galaxy formation, trace stellar activity including effects on planet habitability, and transform our knowledge of endpoints of stellar evolution. In this splinter session, we will describe how these science goals will be enabled by a mission design that combines lightweight X-ray mirrors with a high-definition X-ray imager with 0.5-arcsec pixels, a microcalorimeter with 0.3 eV energy resolution, and a large effective area grating spectrometer with a resolving power of 5,000. Just as importantly, these features will facilitate a broadly capable observatory for the community that is able to tackle not only the known outstanding key science questions but also whatever new problems are revealed in the coming decade.
Inversion of IRIS Mg II h&k Data: A Machine Learning Approach
Monday, 10 June | 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Midway 7 and 8
Additional $35 registration fee to attend
The Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) observes the Sun's chromosphere and the transition region to understand how the solar atmosphere is energized. Since its launch in 2014 it has recorded more than 18,000 data sets in the Mg II h&k spectral range. Recovering physical information from these data is crucial to answer how energy is transferred from the lower layers of the solar atmosphere to the hot corona. We will demonstrate a new technique that applies to Mg II h&k spectra that quickly (in a few minutes) enables the recovery of the thermodynamic information within the atmosphere. This new approach is based on several machine learning and artificial intelligence methods. In this workshop we will discuss the concepts, estimated errors, and limitations of the method and, in a hands-on
environment, how to implement and execute the code we have developed.
Learning to Utilize Kepler's Unique Dataset for Computing Exoplanet Occurrence Rates
Tuesday, 11 June | 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm
NASA's Kepler mission has provided a unique dataset for calculating the frequency of long-period rocky planets that will not be rivaled for the foreseeable future. While the mission produced numerous data products to enable occurrence rate computations, it has not yet been fully utilized. Many challenges remain to be tackled that are critical to producing accurate occurrence rates. Examples include improved planet detection and vetting methods, robust statistical accounting of vetting procedures, accurate assumptions regarding the underlying planet distribution, and incorporation of follow-up observations. This splinter session will feature an interactive tutorial on how to compute occurrence rates using all the Kepler mission data products based on Python notebooks. We will discuss methods to account for completeness and reliability, focusing on Earth-size exoplanets in the habitable zones of Sun-like stars, where true planets can be difficult to detect and to distinguish from false positives. We will also have a series of talks from community members on alternative techniques and data products, including those relevant to data from other missions. Time for open discussion will be provided as well. This session is appropriate for scientists with a broad variety of backgrounds, and no specific knowledge of Kepler data or experience in computing occurrence rates is required. Students and early career scientists interested in exoplanet occurrence rates are particularly encouraged to attend. The lessons learned with Kepler will be relevant to similar statistical studies done in the future with data from other NASA missions such as K2, TESS, Gaia, and WFIRST.
Making Tours with the AAS WorldWide Telescope
Tuesday, 11 June | 1:40 pm – 2:40 pm
Wabash Cannonball Room
WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is the AAS's official tool for visually exploring humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. Alongside its open-ended exploration capabilities, WWT can be used to create and view “tours” -- scripted multimedia presentations of astronomical concepts and data: like PowerPoint but rooted in a 4-D simulation of the known universe. In this tutorial, attendees will learn the basics of how to create tours and learn tips for integrating them into their classrooms, public outreach events, and research. Bring a laptop to this tutorial. The Chrome web browser is recommended for use with WWT.
Origins Space Telescope Enables Community Science
Tuesday, 11 June | 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm
The Origins Space Telescope is a large mission study for the 2020 Decadal Survey. Origins is not only capable of addressing known questions, but also its vast discovery space will allow astronomers in the 2030s to understand new phenomena and ask new and important questions about our origins in the universe. The splinter session will include a short presentation on Origins and a few short talks discussing “discovery science” that Origins can do.
Preparing for DKIST Data: An Introduction to Solar Ground-based Observations
Tuesday, 11 June | 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
The five first-light instruments of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) on Haleakala, Maui, will provide a varied ensemble of data types, from rapid high-resolution imaging to polarimetry of weak spectral lines, and it is anticipated that data from first observations will be available for community use by 2020. Therefore, the National Solar Observatory (NSO) has committed to help train the community in the tools and techniques that will allow them to best exploit the DKIST data once available. Within this splinter meeting we will provide a quick introduction to ground-based observations of the kind expected from DKIST, typical processing steps, and common analysis techniques. Unique peculiarities of ground-based observations will be addressed in some detail; this can be of particular interest for scientists currently more familiar with space-based data. We'll conclude with a brief overview of DKIST data packaging and retrieval. This splinter meeting is part of a larger set of initiatives devoted to developing analysis and modeling tools that will enhance the value of data taken with NSO's observing facilities -- DKIST and the NSO Integrated Synoptic Program (NISP). In particular, several follow-up workshops will be held within the 2019-20 timeframe on more focused topics such as spectropolarimetric inversions.
General Astrophysics and Solar System Science with HabEx
Wednesday, 12 June | 9:30 am – 11:30 am
The Habitable Exoplanet Observatory (HabEx) is one of four flagship mission concepts currently under study by NASA in preparation for the 2020 Decadal Survey. HabEx is designed to be the next-generation great UV-optical-near-IR observatory in the post-HST era, with capabilities to address physics of the cosmos, cosmic origins, solar system, and exoplanet science. This session will focus on the cutting-edge general astrophysics and solar system science enabled by HabEx. Such observations are expected to represent ~50% of the primary 5-year mission and to be part of a community-driven guest observer (GO) program.
Interactive Data Exploration with pywwt
Wednesday, 12 June | 1:40 pm – 2:40 pm
WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is the AAS's official tool for visually exploring humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. At its heart is a 4-D simulation of the known universe connected to a WebGL-based rendering engine that can dynamically access terabytes of astronomical data stored in the cloud or on your own computer. With the “pywwt” Python module, you can embed this technology in your Jupyter notebooks, integrate the WWT environment with your own images and data sets, and control the resulting visualizations either interactively or programmatically. Imagine DS9 in Jupyter, with a Python API! In this tutorial, attendees will learn to the basics of using pywwt and explore its capabilities for loading and visualizing FITS file and Astropy data tables. Bring a laptop to this tutorial. We will be using cloud-based Jupyter notebooks, so local software installations will not be necessary. The Chrome web browser is recommended for use with WWT.