Sunday, January 04, 2009

I get by with a little help from my few thousand closest colleagues

Long Beach California Waterfront
Image Credit: City of Long Beach

Friday evening, I arrived in Long Beach, CA for the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society. Several thousand astronomers are descending upon this unsuspecting city for a big bash to share news, renew friendships, and learn more about the vast Universe of which we are a part.

I find these meetings both draining and invigorating. By the end of the week, I will be dog tired, and barely able to function. But I also find the meetings intellectually stimulating. Seeing a wide variety of interesting science results just rekindles my love for the science of astronomy. There are so many interesting things to study!

I am starting off the week with a meeting of the National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellows, a group of young astronomers with a passion not just for science, but for astronomy outreach and education. During this meeting, we give short talks on our research, on our education activities, and discussions on important issues facing all of us (like job searches or new outreach opportunities or future funding outlooks). Yesterday alone, we heard about studies of dark matter, searches for planets, a student-built radio telescope, and rooftop astronomy on 120th Street in New York City. Today promises just as many fascinating subjects!

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