We had almost 200 students compete from around 85 schools participate in the first round of the USAAAO! Thanks so much to all the teachers who helped proctor the exam. Results should be out soon for those that have not heard back. You can also find the exam and solutions on our Past Exams page.
Please register at this link.
Registration will close on January 25th, 2019.
Joseph McCarty (Lubbock High School, TX) shared his journey and tips to win a gold medal in Beijing last November.
“I first heard about USAAAO my freshman year right before the registration deadline when a friend of mine saw something about it on a MIT mailing list for prospective students. He was somewhat interested in astronomy but he knew I was very interested so he told me about it and we both took the first round that year. I didn’t prepare for the first round and qualified for the NAO thanks to some prior knowledge and educated guesses, but I got the Fundamental Astronomy book mentioned on the USAAAO resources page from a library as I was preparing for the NAO. Still, there wasn’t a lot of time so I didn’t feel very prepared, but much to my surprise I made the training camp. The training camp motivated me a lot to make the team the following year. After being selected, I began preparing for the Olympiad mostly by doing practice problems and thoroughly understanding any part I missed. While there were a lot of problems I didn’t have time to do, the focused work I did definitely paid off at IOAA, and the training we received from our coaches was also very helpful. IOAA was a very fun experience, particularly meeting many other students from around the world with similar interests and getting to know the other people from the USA. It was also my first time traveling outside the country, so it was quite different from anything I had previously done. For people interested in participating, I would recommend spending time on celestial coordinates. A strong background in coordinates will help not only in a lot of theory problems but also in observation. Also, learn a lot about any topic you find fascinating! For me, there were some subjects which I studied in more depth than I needed to for the competition, but doing that helped maintain my excitement and motivation for the other parts of the competition.”
We’re excited to announce the schedule for the upcoming USAAAO year!
Dec 1st – Jan 25th: Registration
Jan 26th – Jan 30th: First Round Exam
Mar 2nd – Mar 8th: National Astronomy Olympiad
Aug 2nd – Aug 11th: IOAA
Registration will open in one week on our registration page, so get ready and spread the word! If you want an email announcement, join our mailing list here. The registration fee this year will be $25, however we will accept financial aid requests via email.
Over three hundred students from thirty-eight countries competed in the 12th International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics in Beijing, China from November 3rd through 11th. The American team achieved its best result since its first participation seven years ago, with four medals and an honorable mention:
Joseph McCarty (Lubbock High School, TX) — gold medal
Vincent Bian (Poolesville High School, MD) — gold medal and special award for highest score in the theoretical exam
April Cheng (Canyon Crest Academy, CA) — silver medal
Sahil Pontula (Enloe High School, NC) — bronze medal
Andy Zhu (Canyon Crest Academy, CA) — honorable mention
David Yue (Texas Academy of Math and Science, TX) — due to sickness arrived late to the competition.
These achievements are all the more remarkable considering that the USA team never met in person before the competition. Training was conducted by volunteer mentors through video calls with the team members. Instruction in theoretical problems was provided by from the team leaders Natasa Dragovic (University of Texas at Austin) and Ioana Zelko (Harvard University). Prof. Blagoy Rangelov (from Texas State University) and local astronomical societies helped students with the observational round. Prof. David Fallest (from North Carolina State University) helped students with data analysis. Sahil Pontula would also like to thank the Raleigh Astronomy Club and Mr. Doug Lively for their support in his endeavors.
The USA team was selected by volunteer members of the USAAAO (USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad) based on candidates’ results in a selection exam. The next IOAA will take place in Hungary in August 2019. The USAAAO will soon open registration for the 2019 First Round Exam. Anyone interested in competing, should sign up at https://usaaao.org/registration/.
The USAAAO team is entirely self-funded and does not receive any support from the United States government. Donations to the team are welcomed via GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/usa-ioaa2018. We need all the help we can get to send our team to the competition!
Cheer on Team USA as they compete in the 12th IOAA in China from November 3rd to 11th! Six students from all around the US will be traveling to China for the next week to compete against top students from other countries. You can learn more about Team USA here!
Please also consider contributing to our gofundme campaign <https://www.gofundme.com/usa-ioaa2018>! We need all the help we can get to send our team to the competition!
Last year, with your support, Team USA traveled to Thailand and placed 2nd overall in the 2017 IOAA! This year, we hope to travel to China for the 2018 IOAA. As a completely volunteer organization, we’ve unfortunately been unable to find corporate sponsorship, so we’ve started a gofundme campaign <https://www.gofundme.com/usa-ioaa2018>. Your support can not only help the current team but also inspire future team members to attend the Olympiad without having to worry about finance. As an education organization, the USAAAO strongly believes that nobody should be barred from participating in events because of their financial status. The funds raised through this fundraising will be given to and used solely by the USAAAO to cover travel costs to the IOAA, the training camps, and miscellaneous items such as T-shirts for the team.