should I go to Texas?

The deadline for registering for the next annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society is coming up on wednesday...

It is in Austin, Texas, second week of january.
The annual meeting is mostly a schmoozefest, job market for junior faculty, some random "townhalls" and other communiques from DC, and about one hundred press releases, occasionally good and surprising ones.

There is also a semi-private mini-workshop on one of the fields I am working in, that is in conjunction with the AAS meeting but not part of it (a "while you're in town" sort of thing).

But... it is a long way to go, and expensive - easily $2000 with registration and hotels etc.
So... is it worth it? I've never been to Austin - is it a "must see"? Is January a good time to visit?
Any hints of explosive news that one should be present to hear (and liveblog...)?

Convince me, before apathy takes over and I let the deadline slide.


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The AAS should have a special Chandra session called "All My X's Live in Texas" :-)

Well, January sounds like a good time to visit to me. I visited in late April and it was quite warm (well, to me....all the locals were wearing coats and complaining it was cold and I was wearing a t-shirt and dreading what the summer must be like)

I know some people from Austin and they claim it's a wonderful place. I wasn't there long enough to get a sense of the culture of the place outside of the physics department. The do have some big honkken lasers though....

By a cornellian (not verified) on 15 Oct 2007 #permalink

Austin is a vacation destination this time of year, but January is off-season. Still a great place to go for food and music and sights and general local weirdness. :)

By speedwell (not verified) on 15 Oct 2007 #permalink

The scientific program for the AAS meeting is Austin is great! You'd be crazy not to go. We have talks from a whole range of experts lined up, including Rob Kennicutt, Sandra Faber, Alan Stern (the latest from the New Horizons mission and the Jupiter flyby results) and many more. We have a policy talk set up with the NASA Administrator Michael Griffin a great exhibit hall with tons of great exhibitors AND for the first time, we are trying out an alternative banquet format, which will be more like a reception with better food (meaning, no plate service at tables of 12). If you are an active astronomer and you enjoy networking with your colleagues and getting the latest and greatest science results, then the winter AAS meeting is for you (not to mention the great music available right down the street).

Although, I could be a bit biased.

Kevin B. Marvel
Executive Officer
American Astronomical Society

April and May are the best times of the year, but maybe I'm biased. It'll be green, and the bluebonnets will be blooming like crazy. January will be cold, wet, windy, and it's sometimes even good for day (or two, or three this year) off from work because it's icy and unsafe to drive. Of course, compared to what passes for winter in most of the rest of US, that's like Heaven on Earth. In fact, mild winters, and beautiful springs more than make up for June, July, August, and September. The big burden is not the heat which is the obvious one, but the humidity. Odd that. It's humid for 4 months out of year, but it won't frickin rain. Seriously. It did rain every day in July and most of the days of June this year, but if you'd told me it was going to be like that, I'd have tried to have you committed.

Austin is a great town. Very laid back. Great music. Great food. Great people. There a few other places I might want to live, but none so great that I'd actually want to give Austin up. The only downside is that every two years the politicians come in, which is always a disaster waiting to happen.

Go, but allocate

(i) 1/2 day for eating bbq
(ii) 1/2 day for schmoozing/old friends
(iii) 1/2 day for working on a paper undisturbed
(iv) 1/2 day for going to talks
(iii) one day for your mini-workshop

and it's hard to go wrong.

The real question is whether Rob, or anyone else, can tell me whether there is a mexican restaurant ,within walking distance of the conference venue, which is comparable to "Los Dos Jarritos" in Phoenix - which Rob conceded at dinner once was the best Mexican restaurant in Arizona. Although wotsitsname in Tucson is not bad.


I'm also a bit prejudiced, but you have an hour to make up your mind, so here is a bit
more of a pitch for Austin.

The main reason to go to any AAS meeting is serendipity. You will run into someone
and have a great, inspiring conversation with someone you did not anticipate

I'm afraid I don't know Los Dos Jarritos, but Manuel's on Congress is an easy
walk. So are the Iron Works and Stubbs for bar-b-que.

Then there is the music, just about any flavor you would like. Some of the venues
are concentrated near the hotel, on 6th street. They are mostly cover bands, but
entertaining. There are other cultural hot spots for both dining and music. The
Warehouse District is walking distance. A tad more distant, but still walking is
SoCo for South Congress. Home of the world famous Continental Club.

Then there is film. You have to check out the Alamo Draft House an Austin
unique tradition, funky to first-release films with dining in. We may even
do an AAS special there.

You can check a lot of this out at the Austin Chronicle our local ageing hippie,
free handout, wild personals paper:

If you don't have a good time here, you are not half trying.


By Craig Wheeler (not verified) on 17 Oct 2007 #permalink

Unfortunately, the best Mexican restaurants are not within walking distance of the conference. I am planning on renting a car, if only for one day, to take a bunch of people to Chuy's -
Traditionalists would suggest Matt's El Rancho -

Also, Taco Cabana's - are all over the city, and are open 24/7 - good for astronomers.

(No, I don't own stock in any of these - went to UT-Austin for undergraduate)

By John Feldmeier (not verified) on 17 Oct 2007 #permalink

You guys really want a good turnout in Jan, eh?
I think I will actually be coming, as it happens, need to do some schmoozing with people and have some Serious Chats with other. May even liveblog the event...

Thinking about a "late" abstract for a poster, if I am going all that way, I gather I am co-author on some already, but might as well do something as first author if I am going.

You have to try Mama Sita's Los Dos Jarritos in Phoenix, next time you are over there, best hole-in-the-wall northern Mexico style restaurant in the southwest!
Amazing shredded beef tacos, and green chile tamales.

I think I'll leave the "good times" to the minions though, unless I can arrange for the whole family to come, which is unlikely. It is on a school night.
Hope to see you there.

I must ask where Los Dos Jarritos is, given that I'm in the process of moving from Tucson to Phoenix.

My husband is from Austin and we go there a lot, so I really love it. Having been to the AAS there in 1999, I found the downtown very fun with lots of good restaurants around.

Our favorite places generally involve not quite around the conference area: Chuy's for excellent Tex-Mex, Hoovers for amazing Chicken Fried Steak, and Rudy's for good barbeque. (have heard about Stubb's but don't make it down that way often)