Astronomers, astrophysicists and other space scientists from around the U.S. are gathering in Washington, D.C., this week for the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
During the biannual meeting, which is often referred to as the "Super Bowl of astronomy," scientists will present new research on topics such as the solar system, planets around other stars, gravitational waves and more. NASA scientists and engineers will also preview the agency's new Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, scheduled to launch in March 2018, as well as the new James Webb Space Telescope that will launch in 2019.
Other discussions and presentations at the conference will address the biggest astronomy events of 2017, including the Great American Solar Eclipse, the discovery of gravitational waves coming from two merging neutron stars, and the damage Hurricane Maria inflicted on Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory. Space.com will be in Washington all week long to bring you all the latest news from what will be the largest gathering of astronomers in the U.S. this year.
The conference begins today (Jan. 7) and will continue through Friday (Jan. 12). More than 3,000 scientists, educators, journalists and general space enthusiasts are expected to attend, AAS spokesman Rick Fienberg told Space.com in an email, adding that AAS meetings in D.C. tend to draw the largest crowds.
"A typical winter AAS meeting elsewhere attracts around 2,500 people. There are so many astronomy-related institutions in the D.C. metro area, including funding agencies, that we always get a big boost in attendance by meeting there," Fienberg said. On-site registration is open to the public, but it isn't free. If you'd like to make last-minute plans to attend, you can find more information on the AAS 231 website.
Some of the briefings will be webcast live for reporters during the conference, and the recordings will be available to the public online shortly afterward. You can watch the webcasts here once they become available.
Visit Space.com this week for complete coverage of the 231st American Astronomical Society meeting.
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.