We all have ideas about how astronomy can (and should) be changed for the better, but have you ever wondered how to actually go about making that change happen? Or thought that you were too junior to make a difference? If so, consider applying for this workshop that is specifically aimed at getting junior astronomers involved in the planning the upcoming 2020 Decadal Survey.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine will be hosting an Early Career Focus Session for the Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics (Astro2020) in Washington, D.C. on October 8-9, 2018. According to the email invitation to apply to participate in the session, the purpose of this session is to “to provide an opportunity for early career astronomers and astrophysicists to contribute to the decadal survey process. Participants will have the chance to provide input regarding the structure of the decadal survey, the state of the profession, and the future of astronomy and astrophysics.”

Participating in this session will give those of us in the early stages of our careers an opportunity to help direct the focus of the astronomical community for the coming decade. The focus session will be composed of both informational topics on science policy and the decadal survey development, as well as discussion sessions.

The deadline for to apply for this focus session is July 16, 2018 at 5 pm EST. If you have any questions regarding the event, contact Mia Brown at mbrown@nas.edu. For more information on the decadal survey, check out AstroBetter’s previous posts on the topic.


The standard career path in astronomy often requires a lot of moving around – moving to attend graduate school, moving for a postdoc position, and often moving again at every career transition beyond that. As a result, astronomical research groups tend to be very culturally diverse. Smoothing the way for these transitions is important, particularly if they include moving internationally, where entirely new cultures and norms may have to be learned. This challenge is something that should be kept in mind by both people making the move as well as supervisors who are doing the hiring and advising.

Nature recently published a career feature entitled “How to fit in when you join a lab abroad.” This piece notes that there are definite pros to hiring international researchers, but that there are also challenges of which to be aware. Adding new international members to a research group brings fresh perspective and helps the group approach research problems from new angles. It is important to understand, however, that communication and leadership styles may be very different. The article from Nature provides an important reminder to keep the lines of communication open when hiring internationally. While the article focuses on researchers from other countries, it has advice that is relevant to anyone joining or leading a group of people from diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds.

We’ve added this article to the AstroBetter wiki in the Project and Team Management section. If you want to explore this topic further, there are also other useful resources for students, postdocs, and advisors at the end of the article.


It’s Day 0 here at AAS232 in Denver, CO. The opening reception is this evening and most attendees will be arriving today.

The exhibit hall is getting setup and the meeting staff is busy getting all the signage up and the registration booth opened.

On Day 0, the Strategic Assembly meets for a “strategy day”. The Strategic Assembly is comprised of the Board of Trustees, all the Committee Chairs, and the Division Chairs.

We’ve decided to dedicate this entire strategy day to working on improving our ethics and harassment policies. This is a closed meeting so I won’t be giving a blow-by-blow.

As expected, it was a long day. I’d like to take this opportunity to go over the various avenues there are to report ethics or harassment problems to the AAS.


There’s the Code of Ethics (which is the most broad), the Anti-Harrassment Policy, and the Ethical Standards of AAS Journals. Each of these policies are different in scope and implementation and I encourage you to spend some time familiarizing yourself with these policies. Consider investing this time not just for your own awareness, but also so that you may empower others with the information.

If you experience or witness any form of discrimination or harassment, please file a report via the web form or by calling 844-854-5101. Harassment investigations will be managed by an expert HR consultant and reports of ethics violations will be investigated by the Committee on the Code of Ethics, members of which have received training in handling such investigations.


In other news, the Startorialist Booth is all setup and will be ready to take your money starting at 9:30am tomorrow!

After Emily and I finished setting up the booth, we went to the Opening Reception where there were delicious sliders and the usual happy chatter of old friends and colleagues. I found the one person who was vaguely interested in watching the last quarter of the basketball game — someone who I literally haven’t seen in over a decade — and headed to the lobby bar for some much needed downtime. We got there just in time to see Curry doing what he does. Even though the Spurs didn’t make it very far this year, watching Curry do amazing things brings me great joy. Is anyone interested in watching Game 3 on Wed?

There’s lots on the agenda for tomorrow so stay tuned for the next installment!


I’m attending AAS232 in Denver, CO as a member of the Board of the Trustees of the AAS (previously known as the Council). Since the summer meeting is much less hectic than the winter meeting, I’m aiming to live blog every day I’m here! I also want to raise the awareness of the summer meeting and encourage more people to consider attending.

The Board of Trustees meets the day before the opening reception, which I have dubbed Day -1. This is technically an open session which any member can attend! Jessica Kirkpatrick does a great job of tweeting the more interesting things and I’ll provide highlights here as well. I’ll be updating this post all day.

My started off with running into three members of the awesome AAS Meetings Staff! I am always happy to see Debbie Kovalsky, who does so many things to make the meetings happen, including running the Exhibit Hall. It was also my pleasure to meet Elizabeth Scuderi and Jennifer Bond, the new Director and Deputy Director of Meetings! They let me know that we’re expecting 700 participants here in Denver.

We got a nice presentation from Rick Feinberg who let us know that everyone is welcome to the Press Conferences. The Tuesday schedule includes two releases relevant to Tabby’s star and I hear will feature two high school student presenters! The schedule is posted and they will be webcasted.

Photos from past meetings are all available and photos from this meeting will start going up soon!

Alicia Aarnio, the chair of the Climate Site-Visit Oversight Committee gave us an update on the progress on the revival of the site visits. We approved a very thorough Best Practices document that they have put together. Keep an eye out for this document to be circulated.

We’re in the middle of going through the nitty-gritty of the budget and I need to charge my laptop!

Some highlights from the budget discussion:

  • Feedback for iPosters is being collated by the Vice Presidents. It’s recognized that this is an emerging technology and that we are early adopters. More functionality is on the way!
  • More folks than expected are publishing Gold Open Access in AAS Journals. This is great for open science and for the AAS budget!
  • Following the success of professional development activities at the meetings, we’re investing in making professional development webinars.

And now, lunch!


As part of a larger public policy discussion, we discussed the Decadal Survey. The scope has been narrowed to only include proposed missions with costs capped at $3–5 billion. We discussed the importance of advocacy once the report is done to get the recommendations actually implemented.

The Committee on the Status of Astronomy is expanding to include four graduate student members! This is motivated in order to increase both the involvement of early-career astronomers in equity work and to get them formal recognition for that work.

We’ve done a lot of housekeeping. Here are some highlights:

  • The 125th Anniversary of the AAS is coming up! We’re thinking about how to best mark that occasion.
  • The discussion about the best policies regarding online communication (e.g., blogs and Twitter) of Committees and Trustees continues. The solution remains elusive.

We’re adjourned!

Tomorrow, we have an all day meeting of the Strategic Assembly. It’s a closed session so I probably won’t be as prolific.


Welcome to the New ADS

by Guest May 28, 2018

Kelly Lockhart is a back-end software engineer for the NASA Astrophysics Data System, based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The Astrophysics Data System (ADS) is pleased to announce that our new interface is officially out of its beta phase! It has reached nearly full parity with the Classic system, and provides more features, more […]


Read more →

Astronomy graduate fellowship and gap year resources [Links][Wiki]

by Joanna Bridge May 11, 2018

Recently, the graduate-student run blog Astrobites posted some great information about graduate research fellowships, authored by Avery Schiff. Although it is not currently fellowship application season, this will be an excellent resource for graduate students looking for funding in the future. The Astrobites post complements the information we have on the AstroBetter wiki graduate funding page. […]


Read more →

Introducing Arcsecond.io: The Home of iObserve on the Web!

by Guest April 9, 2018

Cédric Foellmi (@onekiloparsec) is an astrophysicist and senior software engineer. He is the maker of iObserve: a macOS and iOS app that has been previously featured on Astrobetter. He was also formerly an astronomer at ESO in Chile, where he met Éric Depagne, who was a VLT UVES instrument Fellow and is currently an astronomer […]


Read more →

The National Science Foundation’s New Policy on Reporting Harassment

by Joanna Bridge March 14, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has recently developed a new policy on reporting harassment. These rules are meant to address the ongoing problem of sexual harassment in academia. For example, one study found that 30% of postdocs have reported being sexually harassed in the workplace. Another crowdsourced spreadsheet has garnered almost 2500 responses since December […]


Read more →

Reviving the AstroBetter Blog and Announcing Tenure and ScienceBetter Consulting

by Kelle February 28, 2018

I’d like to give everyone a status update on me and the blog. As some of you have noticed, new content has been few and far between the past couple years. That should be changing, starting now! First of all, I’m pleased to announce that Joanna Bridge (University of Louisville) has joined the AstroBetter team […]


Read more →

Anonymizing the Hubble Space Telescope Proposal Process

by Joanna Bridge February 23, 2018

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) “Anonymizing Proposal Reviews” Working Group (APRWG) has been formed to tackle the ongoing problem of implicit biases affecting the outcomes of Hubble Space Telescope (HST) proposal reviews. For the last two HST cycles, the list of investigators on each proposal has been given to reviewers alphabetized and with no […]


Read more →