Call for Publicity Officers

Update – the application will be available until this Sunday, June 28th. We will start the interview process after that. If you are interested to apply in the future, look out for our next call for volunteers starting this fall.

USAAAO is looking for Publicity Officers to help us expand our outreach.

The publicity officer (as all other positions at USAAAO) is a volunteer position. You would be working alongside the other enthusiastic volunteers at USAAAO.


We are trying to significantly expand the number of students who are aware of the existence of our program, with a particular emphasis on reaching out to students of underrepresented groups.
To accomplish this, you would help aggregate contact information for high schools across the nation, and, if interested, help manage the social media platforms of the organization, as well as other strategies you are welcome to propose.


We are purposely keeping the qualifications list to a minimum, and encourage basically all interested to apply.
The main attribute would be the ability to follow directions and respect deadlines.

You also have to be above the age of 13.


Through this work you will be having a direct impact in helping students get access to astronomy and astrophysics education.

You will also gain experience working as part of a team, but also a self-driven individual accomplishing your own project goals.


The position is available immediately. Expected time commitment per week is 3-5h, but more interest is always welcomed as well.

If you are interested in applying for this position, please fill the following form:

By submitting this form you confirm you are above the age of 13.

If selected, you will hear back from us with further information.

If you have any questions about this or other volunteer positions, do not hesitate to email us at!

General Announcement

The USAAAO acknowledges the roles that systemic racism has played in shaping our society and the academic enterprise. We believe that Black lives matter, and we want to build an organization where all members of our team, coaching staff, and competitors are treated equitably and with respect. Our mission is to promote astronomy and astrophysics education for everyone. We acknowledge that we have had a lack of representation from Black students and students from underrepresented groups both in our competition and on our team. We plan to make USAAAO anti-racist, by ensuring that our competition and training are not just fair, but equitable. Toward that goal, we are implementing the following steps:

  1. All volunteers with the USAAAO will be required to do implicit bias training upon joining the group, and all current volunteers are required to complete training by July 3rd, 2020. 
  2. We will search for a publicity volunteer to help us expand our reach to groups under-represented in astronomy and astrophysics (

We look forward to expanding our efforts toward equity in astronomy and astrophysics education and using our reach as astronomy educators to work toward a better future. 

We hope you have a Happy Juneteenth!

Announcing the 2020 USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team!

We are excited to yet again bring 10 students to the IOAA, this time to Colombia:


Leo Yao (West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North)

April Cheng (Canyon Crest Academy)

William Huang (Lynbrook High School)

Sean Chen (Canyon Crest Academy)

Max Tan (Phillips Exeter Academy)

William Li (King High School)

Adithya Balachandran (High Technology High School)

Shion Murakawa (North Hollywood High School)

Jupiter Ding (State College Area High School)

Jared Machtinger (Adlai E. Stevenson High School)

Team leaders: dr. Tad Komacek (University of Chicago) and Sandesh Kalantre (University of Maryland)

For the first time in our history, all the travel and registration costs will be covered for the entire team.

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

In addition to the team, we will invite several younger participants of the NAC to join the online training. Weekly online training is scheduled to start mid May. Together with the team leaders, we have several coaches: Nima Chartab Soltani (University of California Riverside), Katarine Emanuela Klitzke (Georgia Tech), Lucas Pinheiro (University of Notre Dame), Vlad Rosca (UCLA), and Natasa Dragovic (University of Texas at Austin). In the upcoming weeks you’ll get a chance to learn more about the team and the coaches.

We understand that this year’s exam was especially difficult for several reasons, so we want to congratulate all the participants. In order to increase transparency, we gave students an option to have their score released. You can find the official National Astronomy Competition results here.

We thank again all the volunteers for all their work! If you have any questions or want to get involved next year, email us at

Grading of NAC is Complete!

We want to thank all the students for participating and quickly adapting to the new circumstances! We know and understand that everyone has been affected by the COVID-19, and some more than the others. We sincerely hope that everyone is safe and that the situation will get better soon.

We sent all the grades and will announce the team soon. We will post more detailed scores later in the week. For now, we are sharing the score histogram. If you participated and haven’t received your score, please email us at as emails sometimes bounce!

Finally we want to thank all of our volunteers for stepping up and helping out with the proctoring and making sure the National Astronomy Competition is a success.

National Astronomy Competition is Complete!

We thank everyone that participated and that made our first online exam a success! Problems and solutions are posted on the website. There were 2 versions of the exam, they differed in numerical values given in question 4. The difficulty of the exam was the same on both days. On different days students got different versions. Students should expect to hear their results in 2 weeks.

Top 10 students will be invited to represent USA at the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad and will start online training shortly after the selection is made. So far the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad is still planned to be held in September in Colombia. We will post any updates as we learn.

For any further questions, please email us at!

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!