Schedule for USAAAO 2019

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.

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!



Historical Results for USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team in the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics!

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.IMG_20181111_113134.jpg

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 Organization) 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

Congratulations to the 2018 US IOAA Team!

Thanks to all the students and teachers that participated in the 2018 USAAAO! This year, the IOAA will be held in China from November 3rd to November 11th. Representing the US will be:

  • Andy Zhu (Canyon Crest Academy, CA)
  • April Cheng (Canyon Crest Academy, CA)
  • Ben Choi* (Lexington High School, MA)
  • David Yue (Texas Academy of Math and Science (TAMS), TX)
  • Joseph McCarty (Lubbock High School, TX)
  • Sahil Pontula (Enloe High School, NC)
  • Vincent Bian (Poolesville High School, MD)

Ioana Zelko and Natasa Dragovic will attend as team leaders.

We hope to post this year’s exams and solutions soon, so keep an eye on our Past Exams page!

*Unable to attend the IOAA due to college constraints

Register for the 2018 USAAAO!

Registration for the First Round of the 2018 USAAAO is now open on our registration page until Feb 7 at 11:59 PM EST! For information about the selection process, see our selection process page.

Note that this year we are changing the registration process so that students must be registered by a teacher who will proctor the exam. If you believe you can’t find a teacher or have any other questions about the USAAAO send us an email at

If you’re new to the USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Organization, we select and train a team of students each year to attend the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics. Our selection exams will cover a broad variety of topics from cosmology to observational astronomy. Anyone is welcome to participate, however you must be a US citizen or permanent resident to qualify for the team.

Check out our Resources page to see what kinds of things might appear on an exam. See our About page to learn more about the USAAAO. Email us at if you have any questions.

US Team Places 2nd Overall in Thailand!

Forty-four countries competed in the 11th IOAA in Phuket, Thailand from November 12th – 21st. USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team placed 2nd out of the 44 countries, taking 2 gold medals and 3 honorable mentions:

Hagan Hensley — Gold Medal

Jason Yang — Gold Medal

Siddharth Sridhar — Honorable Mention

Andy Zhu — Honorable Mention

Shubhanga Ballal — Honorable Mention

This is the best USA Astronomy and Astrophysics Team result to date and it comes in no small part to amazing guidance and training from team leaders Roxana Pop and Ioana Zelko. We’re very excited the upcoming year of astronomy and astrophysics olympiads! We hope to open registration for the 2018 First Round Exam soon, so stay tuned! If you’re interested in competing in the future, sign up for our mailing list from the Registration page.

Training Camp Success!


Huge thanks to senior lecturer Amanda Bosh from the Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Department for being the lead organizer of the training camp! It was an intense week of lectures, exams, and practice, going from classroom to observatory to planetarium, but we enjoyed teaching and getting to know everyone and we hope all the participants enjoyed it too.

Check out this article written about the training camp:

Next year, we hope to continue our strong relationship with MIT and use the training camp as a selection camp for the US IOAA team.

For now, we’ll be looking forward to preparing the current team for the IOAA in November!

Meet the Team!

We’re excited to announce the 2017 US team for the 11th IOAA:
Shubhanga Ballal
Hagan Hensley
Siddharth Sridar
Jason Yang
Andy Zhu
For more info, see The Team.

The team, along with the following students, will attend a training camp at MIT from July 23-29.
Pranai Basani
Bhavesh Kalisetti
Joseph McCarty
Karan Mahesh
William Qian
Sidhant Rastogi
Adam Rebei
Eugene Shao
Eric Yang
Dean Zhou

USAAAO 2017 Conclusion

Thank you to all the students who participated in the USAAAO this year and all the proctors who helped administer tests and for everyone’s patience in the process. We had 222 participants this year, 47 of whom were invited to take the NAO.

Out of 90 points, the mean score on the NAO was a 34.06 with a median of 30.5 and standard deviation of 16.40. Based on results, we’ve invited 5 students to represent the USA at the 11th IOAA in November (more information on the team to come soon). Additionally, we have invited the following students (in alphabetic order) to participate in a training camp at MIT in July:

Shubhanga Ballal
April Cheng
David Deng
Hagan Hensley
Rinik Kumar
Karan Mahesh
Joseph McCarty
Sahil Patel
Sidhant Rastogi
Adam Rebei
Eugene Shao
Siddharth Sridar
Jeffrey Tao
Eric Yang
Jason Yang
Dean Zhou
Andy Zhu

Solutions to all the exams from this year are now posted on our Past Exams page. If you’d like to join our mailing list to make sure you get updates about future competitions see our Registration page. As always, let us know if you have any questions at

National Astronomy Olympiad

We invited almost 50 students to participate in the National Astronomy Olympiad from May 15-19. This year, the exam was a 3 hour written exam (to be posted soon). Thanks to all the proctors who helped us administer the tests and to all the participants who sat for the exam. At the moment, all tests have been submitted and we are in the process of grading, so check back for updates soon!