AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 31 History of Astronomy
HAD Posters, Monday, 9:20am-7:00pm, January 9, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[31.03] The Southwest Concentration--Good for Astronomy?

A. R. Upgren (Wesleyan University)

In recent years the share of active astronomy limited to the southwestern United States has accelerated. Many reasons can be cited. Among the obvious is the preponderance of clear nights and of very large telescopes in this region. But other factors may also be limiting the interest and devotion by astronomers who live in other regions. Among them are the elimination of all but the largest telescopes at Kitt Peak and elsewhere, the growing predominance of professional meetings held in this same region, and rising travel costs. This study addresses this last reason, in order to determine whether and how much it has a bearing on future American astronomy. Data are presented that show the distribution of meetings held in North America cited in the last seven newsletters (nos. 115-121) of the AAS, covering the approximate period from mid-2003 to mid-2005. Altogether 72 meetings are listed there, of which 40 took or will take place in the west, 3 in the south, 4 in the midwest, 16 in the east, 7 in Canada and 2 in Mexico. Almost half were held in just four states: Arizona, California, Hawaii, and New Mexico. The tilt toward the southwest would be even heavier if meetings announced in the IDA Newsletter and PASP were included, both organizations being tightly oriented toward the same region. The majority of travel for observing is mostly to these same four states, but rarely can participation at a meeting be combined with an observing run. Perhaps the AAS and funding sources should consider ways in which to help to defray the cost of traveling to these meetings by residents of other regions of North America.

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