National Astronomy Competition is less than a week away!

This year due to recent developing events we decided to move NAC online. All registered students should have received a confirmation email together with more detailed instructions and the table of constants. Some emails bounce or go to spam, so if you know you registered and didn’t receive an email, email us at!

We understand this situation is highly stressful and unusual for everyone so we thank all the participants on understanding and their cooperation! We are trying our best to adapt and accommodate everyone.

We wish all the students the best of luck in their final preparations!

Updated March 22nd: NAC is moving Online!

Due to COVID-19 situation and the high school closures across the nation, we decided to move the NAC to online proctoring with Zoom. We are offering 2 online sessions, one on April 3rd at 8pm Eastern and one on April 4th at 9am Eastern. 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! We will send the detailed instructions and time slot confirmation once we receive everyone’s preferences. We understand that this is not an ideal situation, but we want to ensure we can enable students to safely take the exam across the different time zones.

We expect students to comply with the standard honors code and only students that qualified will be able to take the test. The exam will be monitored by our volunteers and recorded. Any suspicious behavior will be penalized. Showing your work is mandatory in this round and just a correct answer will bring no points.

Top 10 students will represent USA at the next IOAA in Colombia in September and will begin online training shortly after this round. Organizers are monitoring the situation and will assess in June whether to postpone the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad.

We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

COVID-19 NAC Update and the Guest Team Update

We are aware that many schools are going to be closed during the current schedule, so we are working to figure out how to manage this situation. As soon as we establish a solution we will be emailing all the students and proctors. For now students should still be ready to take the exam during the scheduled window, but potentially online. Thank you for your patience!

USAAAO will invite top 5 scoring students to be part of the main team that represents the USA at the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad in Colombia in September. Next 5 top scoring students will be invited to be a part of the USA’s guest team. All 10 students will be part of the weekly online training sessions with our coaches.

Anyone can participate in NAC but only U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents can represent USA at the IOAA.

Good luck to all the participants!

For any additional questions email us at!

First Round Complete

All the exams that have been to submitted have been graded and emails have been sent to all the participants! This year the cutoff is 11 and up. Currently there are 79 students that qualified for the National Astronomy Competition (NAC).

Unfortunately we discovered some typos in problems 24 and 30 and had to cancel them. Exam and the solutions can be found at

If you haven’t received an email, check with your proctor that they submitted the exam and email us at

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

First Round Updates

We had a bit over 200 students registered to take the first exam from 25 states and several countries. We are gathering all the exams from proctors. All the participants will be notified through email of their score and the cutoff for the second round. We expect the grading to be done by 25th February and will post when the grading is done. Once all the exams are in we will post official solutions.

For any other questions regarding the exam email us at

Thank you for participating!

Registration closes tonight!

You can still register at this link. Financial aid application can be found in the registration or at this link.

First exam has been sent to all the proctors that registered so far! If there are some issues, notify us at

This year, we already have students from 24 states and several countries registered to take the exam. Remember, anyone can take the exam but only U.S. citizens and permanent residents are eligible to represent United States at the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad.

Best of luck to all the participants!

First round is a week away!

Students can take the test any time between February 10th and 16th. Any teacher or a test center can proctor a student. We will be emailing the instructions and the first round to the proctors when the registrations close.

Please register at this link. Financial aid application can be found in the registration or at this link.

Registration will close on February 9th, 2020.

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!

Registration is open!

Registration is now open.

Please register at this link. Financial aid application can be found in the registration or at this link.

Registration will close on February 9th, 2020.

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!

Our two time silver medalist April Cheng shared her experience with the USAAAO and gave few helpful tips:

“I had always been interested in the cosmos. Having heard of the Biology, Physics, Chemistry, and Math Olympiads, I wondered if there was one for astronomy; I found from a google search that there was indeed an Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad, which the USA had just entered a few years before. At first, I prepared using problems from past exams, from the first round to the NAC to past IOAA problems. With that knowledge, some physics and astrophysics background from Science Olympiad, and a bit of luck, I qualified to the 2018 USA IOAA team. After meeting my coaches and teammates and realizing I was missing a lot of fundamental physics and astrophysics concepts, I began studying using various textbooks including An Introduction to Modern AstrophysicsAn Introduction to CosmologyAstronomical Problems, and Introduction to Classical Mechanics, as well as star maps from software like Stellarium and In-The-Sky. I ended up qualifying to both the 2018 and 2019 USA IOAA teams and attending the competitions in Beijing and Keszthely. If I were to give advice to someone taking the exam, I would suggest ensuring a strong foundation in physics, at least in the topics that are tested. 

For me, the Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad was a truly transformative experience. I was at first strictly interested in astronomy, but studying for the Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad fostered a curiosity for physics and mathematics as well. The problems showed me that all the astronomical phenomena that I knew–from the varying altitudes of stars at different latitudes to the expansion of the universe–was governed by laws which we could model and make calculations. But above all, I’m most grateful for the opportunity the Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad gave me to meet the amazing people I did. My teammates, my coaches, and my fellow competitors from all over the world became my close friends, bonded by shared experiences and a passion for physics and astronomy. IOAA 2018 and 2019 will surely be among my most cherished memories of high school.”

Silver medalist April in Beijing 2018

Schedule for USAAAO 2020!

We’re excited to announce the schedule of USAAAO for the upcoming year!

Jan 2nd-Feb 9th: Registration

Feb 10th – Feb 16th: First Round Exam

Mar 23rd – Mar 29th: National Astronomy Competition

Sep 13th – Sep 21th: 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 via email.

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!

Making history at the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics


Over three hundred students from forty-six countries competed in the 13th International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad in Hungary, from August 2nd through 10th. The American team achieved its best result since its first participation eight years ago, with eight medals, honorable mention and best poster.

Main team:

Joseph McCarty (Lubbock High School, TX) – gold medal
Vincent Bian (Poolesville High School, MD) –gold medal and best data analysis
Albert Qin (Mira Loma High School, CA) – bronze medal
Daniel Chang (North Hollywood High School, CA) – bronze medal
Anthony Ou (Carmel High School, IN) – bronze medal

Guest team:

April Cheng (Canyon Crest Academy, CA) – silver medal
Sean Chen (Canyon Crest Academy, CA) –bronze medal
Dean Zhou (Clear Lake High School, TX) – honorable mention
Devin Hoover (Poolesville High School, MD) – best poster
Leo Yao (West Windsor Plainsboro High School North, NJ) –silver medal

Team Leaders: Ioana Zelko (Harvard University) and Natasa Dragovic (University of Texas at Austin)

These achievements are all the more remarkable considering that the USA team never meets in person before the IOAA. Training was conducted by volunteer mentors through video calls with the team members.

The USA team was selected by volunteer members of the USAAAO (USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Organization) based on candidates’ results in a selection exam. The next IOAA will take place in Colombia in September 2020

The USAAAO team is entirely self-funded and does not receive any support from the United States government.

A bit about the history of the USAAAO:

Founded in 2013, the USAAAO started as a group of six high school students who were interested in astronomy and astrophysics. They had heard about the Physics and Chemistry Olympiads that currently existed to foster students’ interest in the sciences. When they learned that there was an international-level astronomy Olympiad, and that more surprisingly, the US did not participate, they wanted to change that. They came into contact with each other via email, and collaborated to form the USAAAO.

That year, they took the initiative of forming a team to represent the USA at the 7th International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Receiving two individual honorable mentions and 11th place in the team competition, they returned and began preparation to establish a national selection procedure for future teams.