Training Starts This Week!

We’re excited to kick off the Summer with two free training camps this year. We have selected 25 students across the USA to learn and train with our coaches. Students will go over the same topics as the team. If you want to join us and study at your own pace, we will be posting the readings and problems weekly on our website here.

Over the summer we will share more about the team and the coaches so stay tuned!

IOAA will be hosted by Colombia virtually between November 14th and 21st. USA Astronomy and Astrophysics team will travel to Boston and will compete from there.

If you have questions about USAAAO please email us at info@usaaao.org.

2021 USA Astronomy And Astrophysics Team

We are excited to announce the 2021 team. Again, we hope we are able to bring two teams to the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad.

Main team:

William Huang

Alexander Hu

Erez Israeli Miller

Abhay Narasima Bestrapalli

Harsh Deep

Guest team*:

Orion Foo

Aarush Gupta

Joshua Jones

Geoffrey Wu

Justin Chen

*in August we will know whether the guest team can participate

This year’s team leaders are Evan Tey and Katarine Emanuela Klitzke. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the team will not be traveling to Colombia. Instead, they will meet with the team leaders in Boston in November. Stay tuned for updates!

If you have questions about the competition, feel free to email us at info@usaaao.org.

We thank all the volunteers and participants that have made this year possible!

Update: National Astronomy Competition has been Graded

National Astronomy Competition took place on March 20th. We want to thank all the participants and volunteers for making this event a success!

You can find question and solutions here. We apologize for the delay in grading. All the contestants will be notified of their score and scores are published on the website as well.

Top 5 students will be invited to represent the US at the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad. Next top 5 students will be invited to be part of the guest team*.

This year IOAA will be held online in November. We will announce the team shortly.

*guest team participation will be known in August

National Astronomy Competition is less than a week away!

National Astronomy Competition will take place on March 20th. Top scorers will be invited to participate at the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad.

All students taking part in the competition received instructions.

NAC is a 2.5h long written exam and will be proctored by our volunteers.

Slot 1: If you reside between time zones of GMT-8 (e.g. California) and GMT+4, you will take the test at 9am West Coast time ( same as 12pm East Coast Time, 2pm Brazil time, 7pm Romanian time, etc.)

Slot 2: If you reside in other time zones, like GMT-10 (e.g. Hawaii), GMT-9 (e.g. Alaska), or any other time zones, you will take the test at 9pm East Coast time, which translates to 5pm Alaskan time, and 4pm Hawaiian time.

Note: students are responsible for double checking the time difference.

Students from the same school should coordinate to take the exam at the same time slot. If you haven’t received an email from us and you qualified for the National Astronomy Competition, please email us at info@usaaao.org

First Round Complete

All the exams that have been to submitted have been graded and students should be able to review their score on Gradescope! This year the cutoff is 13 and up. Currently there are 110 students that qualified for the National Astronomy Competition (NAC).

Unfortunately we discovered some typos in problem 27 and had to cancel it. We also accepted 2 answers in problem 17. Exam and the solutions can be found at https://usaaao.org/resources/.

Thank you all for participating and being interested in Astronomy and Astrophysics!

For all the students that qualified for the National Astronomy Competition, we will be emailing further instructions closer to the exam time.

Fist Round score Histogram

Last Day to Register!

Today is the last day to register for the First Round! We are excited to have students from 25 states and 8 countries already registered. After the registration closes we will send each student a Zoom link. Please let us know if you do not receive a link by Friday evening, as some emails might bounce or go to spam.

Students must be present at the specified exam time that depends on the time zone of a student. First Round is on Saturday, January 30th. Second Round time slots will be the same.

To register, please use this link. Registration this year is 25$ per student. If you’re unable to pay, please register by using this form. You don’t need to fill out both forms. We want to make sure that everyone that wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.

Slot 1: If you reside between time zones of GMT-8 (e.g. California) and GMT+4, you will take the test at 9am West Coast time ( same as 12pm East Coast Time, 2pm Brazil time, 7pm Romanian time, etc.)

Slot 2: If you reside in other time zones, like GMT-10 (e.g. Hawaii), GMT-9 (e.g. Alaska), or any other time zones, you will take the test at 9pm East Coast time, which translates to 5pm Alaskan time, and 4pm Hawaiian time.

Note: students are responsible for double checking the time difference

For more information about the selection process visit our Selection Process page. If you’d like to receive notifications about future opportunities, join our mailing list here.

Registration Closes in a Week!

Exam will be proctored by USAAAO volunteers and will be fully online. Students do not need to find a teacher in order to register. Once the registration closes, we will send Zoom links to the students with more detailed instructions.

Students must be present at the specified exam time that depends on the time zone of a student. First Round is on Saturday, January 30th. Second Round time slots will be the same.

To register, please use this link. Registration this year is 25$ per student. If you’re unable to pay, please register by using this form. You don’t need to fill out both forms. We want to make sure that everyone that wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.

Slot 1: If you reside between time zones of GMT-8 (e.g. California) and GMT+4, you will take the test at 9am West Coast time ( same as 12pm East Coast Time, 2pm Brazil time, 7pm Romanian time, etc.)

Slot 2: If you reside in other time zones, like GMT-10 (e.g. Hawaii), GMT-9 (e.g. Alaska), or any other time zones, you will take the test at 9pm East Coast time, which translates to 5pm Alaskan time, and 4pm Hawaiian time.

Note: students are responsible for double checking the time difference

For more information about the selection process visit our Selection Process page. If you’d like to receive notifications about future opportunities, join our mailing list here.

Schedule for USAAAO 2021!

We’re excited to announce the schedule of USAAAO for the upcoming year! Registration is now open!

Due to COVID-19, the whole competition will be online. USAAAO volunteers will be proctoring the exams. In order to accommodate different time zones, we will be offering 2 time slots. More details to follow.

Dec 2nd (2020)-Jan 27th (2021): Registration

January 30th: First Round Exam

March 20th: National Astronomy Competition

Sometime in November: IOAA*

Registration will open 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.

You can read more about the tests on our selection process page, and you can find study materials on our resource page. If you have any questions, email us at info@usaaao.org!

* Currently IOAA is scheduled to take place in Colombia, dates unknown

Successful Year for USA at the GeCAA

Around two hundred and seventy students from thirty-eight countries competed in the first Global e-Competition on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Initially the competition was supposed to be held in Bogota, Colombia, but because of COVID-19, it had to be moved online. Estonia took charge of the logistics of the competition and managed to organize this competition in only 4 months; team leaders from all countries helped in the competition by writing problems, supervising the online exam and grading. In addition, the academic committee (of which Ioana Zelko was a part of) oversaw the creation of the exams and the approval of the appeals.

Students took the exams in extraordinary conditions, during the pandemic, some facing technical issues along the way.

The exams consisted of individual rounds in theory, data analysis and observation, and a team competition as well that took place over two weeks. You can see the exams here

In addition, during the weeks of the competition, students were invited to listen to open lectures given by Prof. Erin Kara and NASA Astronaut Catherine Coleman.

USA’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Team performed well under these conditions, obtaining 6 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronzes, as well as the best score for the theoretical exam of the competition (the results can be seen here).

Gold Medalists:

Leo Yao

William Huang

April Cheng

Sean Chen (Best Theory as well)

Shion Murakawa

Adithya Balachandran

Silver Medalists:

Jupiter Ding

Bronze Medalists:

Max Tan

Jared Machtinger

Certificate of Participation:

William Li

Team Mentors responsible for coordinating, supervising and grading are: Thaddeus Komacek, Sandesh Kalantre, Katarine Emanuela Klitzke, and Lucas Pinheiro.

The USA team was selected by volunteer members of the USAAAO (USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Organization) based on candidates’ results in a selection exam. Pending on the situation in the world, 2021 IOAA is supposed to be in Colombia in September.

We are extremely grateful to “The Masson Family Fund” for the generous donation, to the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) for their help and support, and to law firm Prince Lobel for legal representation.

If you’re interested in knowing more about USAAAO or want to volunteer, you can email us at info@usaaao.org.

Introducing the USAAAO Publicity Team

As an organization, we want to build and maintain an equitable atmosphere for our volunteers, team, coaches, and competitors alike. The USAAAO publicity team has been formed in order to reach out to as many high school students across the nation as possible, and to also expand access to our competition for underrepresented minority groups, as well as for students with less financial and educational opportunities . The publicity team will be the social face of USAAAO, engaging in social platforms and reaching out to schools, including schools with underrepresented population, and including them in our mission to advance astronomy and astrophysics education for everyone.

With that, here is our 2020 USAAAO Publicity Team!

Charly Castillo

I am a rising junior at the Weehawken High School in Weehawken, New Jersey. I joined the Publicity Team because I am committed to using my passions for astronomy and education equity to make an impact on other underrepresented students. As someone who was not exposed to much astronomy in school, I want students who are in a similar position as I was to be aware of the subject and the opportunities that are offered by the USAAAO. When I’m not developing our new LinkedIn page, I work as the Director of Science for a mentorship program called Mission Impassionible and read research papers on the latest astrophysical research.

Brendan Duong

I am a rising sophomore at UCSD majoring in Physics with a Specialization in Astrophysics and minoring in Mathematics.

My interest in astronomy began when I was in middle school and stumbled upon a documentary clip on gamma-ray bursts. I recall being so astonished that catastrophic events like these were happening out in space. This experience piqued my curiosity about the Universe and motivated me to continue learning about what other amazing things were happening beyond our world.

In high school, my knowledge and passion for astronomy grew through my participation in Science Olympiad’s Astronomy event. Through my studies of topics like supernovae and galaxy formation, I developed a greater appreciation for the complex principles our Universe operates upon, but also just how surreal our Universe is, from cannibalistic black holes to exploding stars.

Today, my pursuit of astronomy is still motivated by the same desire I had in middle school to learn more about the Universe. I hope that, by serving as a Publicity Officer for USAAAO, I might be able to introduce students to the field of astronomy and spark the same flame of curiosity that drives me today.

As an undergraduate, I intend on continuing my studies in Physics and Mathematics to prepare myself for a career in astrophysics research. In my free time, I enjoying playing the violin and piano, reading, and playing video games with friends.

Shaurya Jain

Sanat Kumar

My name is Sanat Kumar and I am currently a student at Lebanon Trail High School in Frisco, Texas. I love all sciences and branches of math, but I am especially fond of astrophysics, astronomy, and physics. I hope to become an astrophysicist in the future, and want to conduct research involving black holes and gamma-ray bursts. For now though, I involve myself in plenty of school activities, such as the two math & physics clubs I have founded, as well as sports. I play soccer and I also run varsity cross country and track.

Erin McConnell

I am a graduate of Dartmouth College (B.A.) and the University of Maine Climate Change Institute (M.S.), with a background in the earth and climate sciences. I am interested in communicating science to the general public in order to increase advocacy for the inclusion of scientific evidence in public policy discussions and decisions. I also want to play a role in getting younger students involved in science, which drew me to volunteer for the USAAAO.

Outside of work, I enjoy long-distance running, road trips, and hiking with my favorite adventure buddy (pictured above).

Kashvi Mundra

Hello! I’m a senior at Lambert High School in Suwanee, Georgia. I’m excited to be part of USAAAO’s Publicity Team!

My interest in astronomy and physics started in the 2nd grade purely by accident through a library book. Since then, I’ve always been intrigued with how everything in the sky works, but it wasn’t until high school that I decided I wanted to pursue the space sciences.
Recently, I took the 2020 USAAAO exam and made it to the second round, the NAO. Although this was the end of my exam journey this year, taking the exams opened my eyes to so many more topics in the realms of Astronomy and Astrophysics. I hope to share my interests and passion to more people around the nation.

I am interested in research and am currently working on a project regarding Coronal Mass Ejections.
I also enjoy the communicative arts and read anything I can get my hands on. I am also currently working on a young adult novel.

Outside of academics, I have been an Indian classical dancer for 9 years and enjoy playing three instruments and producing music.

Julyn Rose Peliña

I am a college student at Cavite State University – Naic Campus in Cavite, Philippines. I’m taking BS Secondary Education major in Science. After I finish my current course, I want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and take master’s degree in Astrophysics or Astrobiology. I’ve been fascinated with Astronomy when I was on a 4th grade. I feel mesmerize and wondrous when I’m looking at the night sky. As time goes by my passion for Astronomy deepens therefore I try to come out of my comfort zone and join at different organizations that helps me to acquire technical and life skills. I join USAAAO this 2020 to volunteer as a publicity officer because I want to help students at their Astronomy and Astrophysics education and to reach a wide range of people and introduce them with Astronomy and Space. Aside from being a publicity officer at USAAAO, I’m currently undergoing a training at OrbitX, a newly founded aerospace company here in the Philippines. I’m so astonish with spectacular celestial objects like moons, planets, nebula, and etcetera. I want to experience microgravity in space and know how rocket works and I want to become a part of space exploration. I want to become the first Filipino Astronaut. I yearn to become an astronaut someday not only because it’s my passion and to satisfy my curiosity but also to inspire, motivate, and encourage youths especially Filipino youths to pursue their dreams no matter how hard it is and no matter how long it takes to fulfill your dreams. Ad Astra Per Aspera!

Maximilian Riccioli

I am a graduating senior from Hebron High School (Carrollton, Texas), and in the fall I’ll be pursuing degrees in both engineering and astrophysics at the University of Texas at Austin.

When I was very young, I was fascinated by outer space and astronomy. As I entered into middle school, however, this enthusiasm fizzled out and was replaced with a general appreciation for science and math. It wasn’t until my junior year of high school that I rediscovered my love for astronomy: my physics teacher asked us to name the major stars in Orion, and I felt that I should have been able to considering how much I once enjoyed the subject. Over the next year, I dove back into astronomy and my old passion was rekindled.

In January of my senior year, I discovered the USAAAO and IOAA by chance on Wikipedia about a week and a half before the test date. Although I had general knowledge of astronomy and physics – and I studied the recommended texts furiously for that week and a half – I was ultimately one point away from advancing to the National Astronomy Competition. As a Publicity Officer, I hope to spread awareness to students so they are aware of the competition far in advance, and so they aren’t in the same position I was in.

Outside of astronomy, I like to play video games with my friends, learn miscellaneous skills (juggling, card throwing, etc.), and watch YouTube videos. This summer, I have also developed an interest in radio technology, building antennas myself and using them to download images from passing weather satellites.

Rashmi Sheoran

I’m a final year undergraduate pursuing bachelors in physics (Hons) from the University of Delhi, India. I was first exposed to astronomy through popular tv shows when I was in high school. When I came to college, my interest grew more as I started meeting like-minded people at the nearby planetarium. I haven’t had an academic connection with Astronomy because of lack of opportunities but that I explore the public outreach activities when it comes to Astronomy.
I plan to study further and get a master’s in Astrophysics but till then I want to help other students so that they know about the existing opportunities like the NAO/IOAA.

I am an amateur astronomer and I usually spend my time doing stargazing, learning astrophotography, watching anime, and doing space science communication on social media. I look forward to sharing my passion for public outreach by volunteering for USAAAO community.

Sara Anjum – Transitioning/Alumni Publicity Officer

Sara Anjum has been a lifelong astronomy enthusiast. She aspired to be an astrophysicist since second grade, and was inspired to pursue STEM to the fullest extent possible because of it. She also co-founded the USAAAO in 2013 as a high-school student, and is still actively involved in its operation. She is also involved with other physics-related outreach organizations such as Physics Unlimited, a physics outreach organization for high-school students. Currently, her research at Caltech involves the design and creation of nanowire solar cells for space-based applications.

Outside of STEM, Sara enjoys singing, dancing (ballet and hip-hop), ice-skating, and playing the piano and violin.

Through the publicity team, we hope to brighten the prospects for all students alike.

Thank you to everyone who is making our mission possible!