Baby, It’s COLD Outside…

January 8, 2014: …but the science is HOT at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS).  With temperatures around the country dipping into negative numbers due to the polar vortex (arctic outbreak?), it’s nice to be here at the conference hotel and listening to some really interesting science. It’s enough to warm the cockles of my science-loving heart!

Weather satellite image of Michigan on January 5, 2014. 20" of snow fell on Michigan that night.


I usually attend the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference, but this year, I went to the AAS meeting to give a talk about our 130-year-old Alvan Clark telescope in the “historical astronomy” division.  The talk was very well-received and it was great to have the opportunity to learn about the history of this wonderful old telescope at Albion College.  The talk is summarized in this article on page 6 and will appear as a conference proceedings paper soon. 

8" Alvan Clark telescope at Albion College (1883/84 - 2013/14)


Since I was there anyway (completely by design, of course!), I was able to sit in on some really good science talks about the Spitzer Space Telescope (lots of explanets and high-redshift galaxies have been found!), exoplanets (water! and we’re getting closer and closer to finding Earth-like planets in Earth-like orbits), and the black hole at the center of our galaxy (that’s ripping apart an object called G2!). The Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA) also gave the first results from our 3rd decadal survey of the status of women in the field, which basically say that we’re making progress in hiring female faculty at the top research institutions in numbers roughly proportional to their numbers in the field but that there’s still a long way to go.

Sign seen at the hotel hosting the AAS meeting. Apropos, no?