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Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society.

April 22nd, 2002 -- Albuquerque, NM


The executive committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on April 22nd, 2002 at the Albuquerque, NM joint HEAD/DAP (APS) meeting, convening at 7.45pm. Present were Josh Grindlay (chair), Roger Blandford (vice-chair), Matthew Baring (secretary-treasurer), Omer Blaes, Nancy Brickhouse, Greg Madejski, Ilana Harrus, Lynn Cominsky, and Alice Harding (past chair). Brenda Dingus phoned in her apologies due to a sudden ailment. Josh Grindlay called the meeting to order.

Joint HEAD/DAP (APS) meeting: The issue of whether HEAD should participate in another joint HEAD/DAP (APS) meeting along the lines (or otherwise) of the present Albuquerque meeting was discussed. There was general consensus that the science aspects of the HEAD/DAP interface were very positive. Various criticisms of the present meeting were offered, most being on organizational/logistical aspects and reflecting opinions raised by some members. Focus was on there being too many parallel sessions, i.e. the meeting followed the APS model, and that the poster session failed miserably: it was poorly attended and there were many poster no-shows. Nancy raised the question of whether or not people crossed disciplinary boundaries; there was a general feeling that this did occur, i.e. that HEAD and APS participants did not confine themselves exclusively to their respective sessions.

Ideas for possible future joint meetings that were raised included a partial overlap of HEAD and APS meetings, and a meeting run by HEAD and not the APS. These were suggested with the idea of retaining more autonomy for HEAD in the meeting organization. There was general agreement that the potential for cross-fertilization between the physics and high energy astrophysics disciplines was a strong motivation for holding such joints meetings again. Although there was no decision on when the next such meeting should be held, constraints imposed by the different phases of APS and HEAD meetings led to the suggestion of possible joint meetings every 4th HEAD meeting, i.e. every six years.

HEAD Publicity and Outreach: The next item on the agenda was HEAD's education for and outreach to the broader public. Josh posited the question: should we change how we deal with getting HEAD's message out to the community? Discussion focused on press activities and started by thanking Lynn for her excellent service over the last 5+ years in the role of Press Officer, and welcoming Ilana in her assumption of this position.

Attention was mostly related to the upcoming 40th anniversary of the discovery of Sco X-1 on 18th June, 1962. Strong support for some sort of official HEAD press announcement/activity to celebrate this anniversary of the birth of X-ray astronomy was voiced. Lynn mentioned that there was considerable activity in the high energy astrophysics community surrounding the upcoming anniversary of the first paper suggesting Cygnus X-1 as a black hole candidate. This included museum exhibits, educational kits and fliers. Lynn suggested merging a Sco X-1 and Cygnus X-1 release, though this did not receive widespread support by the committee; there was a general feeling that the Sco X-1 anniversary deserved primary focus. Ilana and Lynn posited various press possibilities including a Chandra WebCast, and agreed to look into this issue further. Josh suggested an article in Discover magazine. Roger noted that he had a pre-scheduled phone interview with Discover and offered to raise the issue during this call.

Mt. Tremblant meeting: The upcoming HEAD meeting in Mt. Tremblant, Canada was discussed. Alice announced that Westover Consultants were the strong frontrunners for the firm to be engaged to organize the meeting. They have offered an attractive bid based on an expectation of 300-350 participants, though their services have not yet been formally engaged. The duration and exact dates of the meeting were addressed. It was decided that the meeting should last 4 full days, with an evening reception on the preceding day. Options for scientific sessions occupying Monday 24th - Thursday 27th March, 2003 or Sunday 23rd - Wednesday 26th March, 2003 were debated. A final decision was deferred until after the Albuquerque meeting, when the Sunday 23rd - Wednesday 26th March, 2003 dates were chosen by the Committee and subsequently communicated to Westover Consultants.

Initial discussions of the program formation ensued. Roger requested a breakdown of HEAD interests by subfield to aid program development. As resources, Ilana suggested an email poll to the membership, and Alice indicated that the AAS kept abstract statistics from past HEAD meetings. As possible scientific focuses, there were numerous offerings by the Executive Committee, including laboratory astrophysics, solar physics, the quarks to the cosmos roadmap, TeV gamma-ray astronomy, an XMM workshop and Integral session to retain a European interface, MAP and the cosmic microwave background, and some review session of interest to physicists, for example the solar neutrino problem. Nancy proposed that there be at least one cross-disciplinary session, i.e. one that was not primarily defined by sources. Roger expressed a desire to see some more pedagogical lectures on topics such as atomic spectroscopy and plasma physics. Plans are for the committee to establish a strawman program over the summer.

November 2004 HEAD meeting: The last item concerned the location of the November 2004 HEAD meeting. Josh indicated that John Vallerga of Eureka Scientific had performed a preliminary survey of sites, focusing on Vancouver and New Orleans, and had also looked into possibilities at coastal Mexican resort cities. A final decision on the site is planned for some time in the Fall.

The meeting was adjourned at 10.40pm.

These minutes were prepared by Matthew Baring, Secretary-Treasurer, High Energy Astrophysics Division, American Astronomical Society.

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