Monday, January 10, 2011

AAS 217: How did I end up here?

Hello from the 217th meeting* of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle, Washington. What am I doing here? Well...

I finished up my coursework for my master's in journalism at CU a few weeks ago (phew!), and as I embarked on the bumpy search for work, I decided I might as well blend my metaphorical trip with a real one. My friend Sarah, a graduate student in astronomy at Berkeley, asked me to be her co-pilot on a road trip. And where do graduate students in astronomy go for vacation? Why, the AAS meeting, of course!

I lied. That's not strictly true. We aren't just attending the AAS meeting. We've already spent a night under the stars (and mist) in California's redwoods, had an accidental pit-stop at a Christian coffee shop in Coos Bay, Oregon, tasted some deliciously sour beer in Portland, and skipped rocks on the beach in Vancouver, B.C. By the end of the trip one of us (I'll let you guess which one) may even run a marathon.

So while I'm in Seattle and under-employed, I decided I might as well do a little astronomy blogging.

Disclaimer the first: I know very little about astronomy. 

Disclaimer the second: "Very little" is actually an overstatement.

Disclaimer the third: I also know very little about how journalists operate at science conferences like this. Is the action even at the press conferences or poster sessions or invited talks? Or is it elsewhere? My gut feeling would be that the action is at whichever bar the most awesome scientists go to at the end of the day…but what do I know?

Disclaimer the fourth: Disclaimers are totally lame! I am just going to dive in...

*Am I the only one who hears that this is the 217th meeting of the AAS and wonders what the first, second, third and on and on meetings were like? Was it three guys sitting in a pub playing darts and talking about the size of their telescopes? I really hope so. I'll try to find out and let you know.

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