Astrobites@Long Beach: Thursday Sessions

This is the final update from those of us liveblogging the 221st meeting of the American Astronomical Society!  We hope you have enjoyed our updates and make sure to check out the links below for the final versions.  We would again like to thank AAS President David Helfand and AAS Press Officer Rick Feinberg for inviting us to attend the press conferences, and a special thanks goes out to everyone who stopped by our booth and poster!  We hope to see some of you in Indianapolis in June!

-The Astrobites Team

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10am – 5:30pm: AAS Hack Day 

AAS hosted its first “Hackathon”. If you’re not familiar with the idea, a hackathon is an event where programmers and people with ideas collaborate to develop new applications. Here at AAS, astronomers came together to create something that will be valuable to the astronomical community.  A handful of projects were proposed and people then split into groups of one to six to carry out their vision. Participants reconvened at 4:40pm to report their success or failure. Here are a few of the results:


10:00am – 11:30am: Kepler Exoplanets 
The final Kepler session of AAS contained six talks about planetary systems observed by Kepler and one talk about planets that could be observed by Kepler in the future. The first talk of the day was a dissertation talk by Julia Fang (UCLA). Fang has explored the coplanarity and multiplicity of planetary systems by comparing synthetic observations of theoretical planet populations to actual Kepler data. Her main conclusions are that 75%-80% of planetary systems have 1-2 planets with orbital periods shorter than 200 days and that 85% of planets have inclinations less than 2 degrees, meaning that planetary systems are generally flat. The second talk was a dissertation talk by Rebekah Dawson (Harvard). Dawson’s thesis spans a range of topics in solar system astronomy and exoplanets, but she focused today on hot Jupiters and planetary migration. For more details about Dawson’s research, see this astrobite.

The remaining five talks were all standard 5-minute talks. Jason Rowe (NASA Ames) presented Kepler observations of the short-period rocky planet Kepler-10b. By monitoring the brightness of Kepler-10b throughout its orbit, Rowe and his team have inferred that the western hemisphere of the planet is brighter than the eastern hemisphere. Next, Jonathan Swift (Caltech) discussed the five planets of the Kepler-32 system and the implications of that discovery for planet formation and migration around M dwarfs. Swift and his team conclude that the planets must have formed and migrated inward in less than 10 million years, which is a short time by astronomical standards.

The following talk was by astrobites author Lauren Weiss (UC Berkeley). Weiss conducted follow-up radial velocity observations of Kepler target star KOI-94 to constrain the masses of the planets in the KOI-94 system. She then combined her results with results from the literature to derive new relationships between planet radius, planet mass, and the amount of radiation a planet receives from its host star. The penultimate talk was by Sourav Chatterjee (University of Florida). Chatterjee began by reminding the audience that while most stars are born in clusters, most detected planets orbit isolated stars. Chatterjee than outlined how Kepler could be used to detect planets in NGC 6791, the most massive globular cluster in the Kepler field of view. Finally, Sarah Ballard (University of Washington) discussed the exoplanet Kepler-61b and how revising the stellar properties of its host star caused the planet to get bumped out of the habitable zone.

1:00pm – Career Hour 4: Negotiation Strategy and Tactics

This week Alaina Levine from Quantum Success Solutions gave a series of four lectures on career navigation.  The first three sessions dealt with the topics of resumes/CVs,  networking, and leveraging your on-line presence for career advancement.  The final session, held today, discussed negotiation strategies with particular emphasis given to negotiating your first salary. Levine noted that the compensation package you receive for your first “real” job can influence all of your future salaries.  Along with giving basic tips such as avoiding being the first party in a negotiation to give a specific monetary value (and particular language one can utilize to avoid doing do) Levine put a lot of emphasis on going into negotiations prepared.  This preparation includes, among other things, understanding how the monetary value of a specific dollar value varies from city to city, how much compensation you will actually need and in what form (salary, benefits, etc.), who on the other side of the table actually has the power to negotiate, and whether you or the salary they have allocated for the position is more important to the other party.  In addition Levine emphasized that astronomy is a global community and the traditions of negotiation vary from culture to culture.  It is vital you understand every aspect of your particular situation.

About Astrobites

This post was written collectively by multiple members of the Astrobites team. Meet the authors of Astrobites.

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  1. Live-Blog “von” der 221. AAS-Tagung – Teil 3 « Skyweek Zwei Punkt Null - [...] [3:15 MEZ] Über die sensationslose Tagung berichteten u.a. auch AstroBites (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7), Astronomy (1,…

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