Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

ZAH Astronomers Convention 2020

In line with measures taken to hamper the spread of the Corvid-19 virus the Astronomers Convention 2020 has been cancelled.

Date & Location

The Astronomers' Convention 2020 will take place at our physics building at Philosophenweg 12 on Tuesday, March 31, 2020, starting at 9:00 s.t.

Registration is open until Thursday, March 12, 2020 (see below)

Registration & Participants

Registration is closed.

Goals and Strategy of the AstroCon 2020

The Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg (ZAH) hosts research activities in a wide range of astronomical disciplines. And despite this scientific diversity ZAH scientists share fundamental expertise which is essential for state-of-the-art results in an internationally highly competitive field of natural sciences.

The last two AstroCons in 2016 and 2018 focused on the exchange of knowledge regarding ZAH's and SFB-members' individual research projects, the improvement or start of new scientific networks and the enhancement of the community feeling among ZAH/SFB-members which are hosted at four distinct locations across Heidelberg. Although the general concept of parallel sessions with topics focusing on major local research directions was well perceived, there has always been the issue that many participants would have liked to take part in all parallel sessions - something obviously not possible.

This time, we will therefore try to implement a new strategy of networking: just as brain cells foster specific connections as a reaction to certain demands, we will this time try apply a kind of neural networking to connect YOU with colleagues in a way which enhances your strengths and/or expertise with respect to a certain demand in a given overall scientific context. This overall context will be "Observational Techniques, Data mining, Data exploitation and Instruments".

With respect to this context, you will probably have certain demands, e.g. you require specific observations to clear observables predicted by your theoretical model. Somebody else might be able to provide such observations, have access to relevant data or surveys or the expertise to analyze or utilize these data in a specific way. Having this in mind the AstroCon 2020 will be run as follows: 

  • We will start a concise plenary session during which representatives of ZAH institutes will brief the audience about their local data- or instrument-driven science projects. They will not focus on scientific questions but on available methods, sources, or instruments e.g. instrumentation with direct or indirect access (e.g. LBT-LUCIFER, CARMENES, HESS, Gaia, PanSTARRS, LAMOST, LSST, JWST, VO), access to compute servers/clusters and data bases in the present or the future (e.g. 4MOST).
  • The following session will be dedicated to YOUR "neural networking". For this purpose, we will set up a certain number of "round tables" which represent our "brain cells".
  • Each "brain cell" will be given an initial topic which in our picture of neural networking corresponds to a kind of "demand generator" that attracts scientists because they find this topic interesting or progress in their research requires this connection. In doing so they act like nerve fibrers which connect to locations of highest neuronal activity. As soon as the exchange of information and the discussions starts, the initial topic might change which either attracts further scientists or pushes them to another topic discussed within another "cell" that at the moment is more relevant to them.
  • But how do you find out about a thematic development at other tables? This task is carried out by "table moderators". Their task will be to "transmit" information about the current topic to other tables (how this is done technically will be explained at the time).
  • Table moderators  themself also take part in the discussion and may want to switch to other tables with a discussion they at the moment find more interesting. In this case they simply transfer their role as table moderator to another colleague currently present at the table.
  • Which topic is currently discussed at which table will be dynamically displayed on the walls of our seminar rooms and everybody at any time will be up to date about the status of the discussion at other tables and could decide to connect to another "brain cell" with more attraction.

We hope that this experimental method of networking among scientists will connect our participants for the sake of optimum mutual benefit.


Morning session:

  • 9:00-10:00 (plenary): Overview on observational, instrumental and data related expertise available at ARI, ITA and LSW (Speakers: N.N., Dullemond, Quirrenbach)
  • 10:00-12:00 (seminar rooms): Networking session (intitial table moderators: tbd)


  • 12:00-13:00

Afternoon sessions:

  • 13:00-13:30 (plenary): Review of morning session, setup of networking afternoon session
  • 13:30-15:30 (seminar rooms): Networking session (intitial table moderators tbd)
  • 15:30-16:00 (coffee break)
  • 16:00-16:30 (plenary): Review of experiences, end of convention

This convention is organised by students and scientists of ZAH/SFB881 and will be partially funded by SFB 881.

LOC and Contact

The organising commitee consists of Steffi Yen, Martin Altmann, Thomas Jackson and Guido Thimm. In case of questions you can contact us via mail to

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