Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

ZAH Astronomers Convention 2020

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.

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 individual research projects as well as the improvement or start of new scientific networks and the enhancement of the community feeling among ZAH members which are hosted at three distinct locations across Heidelberg. Although the general concept of parallel sessions with topics focusing on our major 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 connections as a reaction to specific 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 meeting will be run as follows: 

  • We will first have a one-hour plenary session during which representatives of all three ZAH institutes will brief the audience about their local data- or instrument-driven science projects. Again, 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 session following the previous introduction will be dedicated to YOUR "neural networking". For this purpose, we will set up a certain number of "round tables" in two seminar rooms representing our "brain cells".
  • To each table an initial topic will be assigned 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. These act like nerve fibers which connect to locations of highest neuronal activity. As soon as the exchange of information and the discussions at a respective table starts, the initial topic might change in a direction which either attracts more scientists or causes them to switch to another table with a topic 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 the other tables (how this is done technically will be explained at the time).
  • But table moderators, like everyone else, also take part in the discussion and are allowed to switch to other tables with a discussion they at the moment find more interesting. To do this, they simply transfer their role as table moderator to another colleague currently present at the table What topic is being discussed at which table will be dynamically displayed to the walls of our seminar rooms. By this means, everybody at any time will be up to date about the status of the discussion at each table and will be able to decide to connect to another "brain cell" if he feels more attracted.

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


Morning session:

  • Plenary: overview on observational, instrumental and data related expertise available at ARI, ITA and LSW (speakers: tbd)
  • Seminar rooms: networking session (intitial table moderators: tbd)

Afternoon sessions:

  • Plenary: review of morning session, setup of networking afternoon session
  • Seminar rooms: networking afternon session (intitial table moderators tbd) 

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

Registration & Participants

Please register HERE and provide us additonal information to customize the convention according to your personel preferences. Especially the number of and initial setup of our discussion tables will depend on your information.

Registration is open until Febr. 28, 2020. A list of participants will be provided HERE (opt-in).

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

Editor: Webmaster
zum Seitenanfang/up