I find that thinking about major undertakings and not knowing where to start can be extremely stressful. How am I supposed to know to be on top of something if I don’t even know I’m supposed to do it? In my experience, and maybe in yours as well, applying to grad school can be like that. This timeline is supposed to be a general outline for applying to astronomy graduate schools in the US generally from the perspective of a US-based student.
I’ve got pretty bad eyesight. If I take off my glasses and look at the flowers on my window sill, they look like a fuzzy yellow blob. But with glasses, the petals and the patterns cast on them come into focus. This is how I felt when looking at the new observations of the debris disk around AU Mic. Putting on our ALMA glasses, the fuzzy debris disk around AU Mic is sharpening into something surprisingly consistent with our own Solar System.
“Galactic archaeology” is the term that has come to refer to using the motions and chemical compositions of stars of different ages to learn about the history of the Milky Way. It seems to me that “galactic paleontology” might be a bit more accurate. I hope to see galactic archaeology v. galactic paleontology fought out in the comments!