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!

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.”


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