I arrived at the AAS in Kissimmee today. While I was preparing for APOGEE meetings and the AAS Hack Day, Andy Casey was sending incredible figures showing that The Cannon returns element abundances for stars that are far more precise even than the input labels used in the training step: It is an element-abundance de-noising system. His best tests involve open and globular clusters, the members of which form very small clumps in abundance space in The Cannon outputs.
At lunch, I ate with the exoplanet crew. I had a conversation with Angie Wolfgang (PSU) about the paper Dan Foreman-Mackey and I wrote about Petigura's sample of exoplanets. This paper is sometimes seen as a criticism of Petigura, but it really is not: We only wrote that paper because Petigura's catalog was the first exoplanet catalog that was good enough that we could do the kind of populations analysis we wanted to do! I guess no excellent research project goes uncriticized, as it were.
There were many impressive results and ideas presented at the APOGEE splinter session. Zasowski (JHU) talked about target selection for the survey and what constraints there are on what can and can't be changed, given physical and scheduling constraints. Renbin Yan (Kentucky) spoke about building a stellar library with APOGEE to support modeling of MaNGA galaxies. He and I also talked in the break with Mike Blanton (NYU) about sky subtraction in APOGEE and MaNGA, which are both hard problems. David Nataf (ANU) spoke about the GALAH survey, and its current status. It is getting stellar parameters but not yet its 29 abundances. I resolved to look into helping them out with The Cannon this semester.
I also had interesting conversations with Scot Kleinman (Gemini) about career paths for observers and operational staff in astrophysics, and with Phil Marshall (KIPAC) about LSST cadence and utility functions. I love these meetings.