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 info@usaaao.org.

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 info@usaaao.org.

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 info@usaaao.org!

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 info@usaaao.org!

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 info@usaaao.org!

Making history at the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics

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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.

Support USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team in the 13th IOAA (Aug 2 – 10)

Cheer on USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team as they compete in the 13th IOAA in Hungary from August 2nd to 10th! Ten students from all around the US will be traveling to Hungary for the next week to compete against top students from other countries. You can learn more about USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team here!

The USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team is selected and trained by the USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Organization(USAAAO), which is a volunteer-run organization.

Announcing the 2019 USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team!

This year, the US will be bringing two teams to the IOAA in Hungary from August 2-10!

Main team:

Joseph McCarty (Lubbock High School, TX)
Vincent Bian (Poolesville High School, MD)
Albert Qin (Mira Loma High School, CA)
Daniel Chang (North Hollywood High School, CA)
Anthony Ou (Carmel High School, IN)

Guest team:

April Cheng (Canyon Crest Academy, CA)
Sean Chen (Canyon Crest Academy, CA)
Dean Zhou (Clear Lake High School, TX)
Devin Hoover (Poolesville High School, MD)
Leo Yao (West Windsor Plainsboro High School North, NJ)

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

Thank you to all the volunteers who helped out with the selection process, and thank you to all the participants this year!

Exams are now posted on our Past Exams page. Feel free to email us at info@usaaao.org if you have any questions. Click here you want to know more about the team!

First Round Complete

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.

Be part of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Team of USA at the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad!

Please register at this link.

Registration will close on January 25th, 2019.

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!

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.”

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