mapping the Universe
 in search of nearby worlds 


I specialize in making and analyzing high-resolution maps from large astronomical survey data sets. Much of my work has focused on processing infrared images from NASA's NEOWISE mission, repurposing this vast asteroid-hunting data set for astrophysics beyond the inner solar system. I am using NEOWISE data to search for cold nearby worlds, including brown dwarfs in the solar neighborhood, wide substellar companions, and the hypothesized Planet Nine. I also play a key role in several wide-area optical imaging surveys, particularly DECaLS and MzLS.

I'm currently a staff astronomer at NSF's NOIRLab (formerly NOAO), where I previously spent a year as a NASA Hubble Fellow. At NOIRLab, I work within the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), contributing to projects that involve applying the LSST data reduction pipelines to Dark Energy Camera (DECam) images. I earned a Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University in 2015. Before that I was an undergraduate at Stanford University, where I received a B.S. in physics in 2010.

Backyard Worlds: Planet 9

I co-founded this citizen science motion search, built around my WISE coadds.

DESI Commissioning

I was a core member of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) commissioning team. My 2020 SPIE paper provides a small sampling of my DESI commissioning work.

DESI Imaging Surveys

I'm a core member of the DESI imaging surveys team, producing optical catalogs 1.5-2 mags deeper than SDSS over 20,000 square degrees of sky.

WISE Coadds

I've reprocessed a quarter petabyte of WISE images to create the deepest ever full-sky maps at 3-5 microns.

Spitzer Cycle 14 Campaign

I'm the PI of an approved Spitzer program that will image hundreds of extremely cold and fast-moving brown dwarf candidates newly revealed by combining the full WISE and NEOWISE data sets.

WISE Planet Nine Search

I have performed the deepest and widest area WISE-based search for Planet Nine.

The unWISE Catalog

We have published the deepest ever 3-5 micron full-sky catalog, featuring over 2 billion unique WISE-selected sources.


Motion measurements for more than a billion infrared sources based on my time-resolved WISE coadds.

WISE Dust Map

I created a full-sky, high-resolution map of mid-infrared dust emission.


My work, particularly in relation to citizen science, "big data", high performance computing, and Planet Nine, has been widely featured in local, national and international media. A partial list of articles quoting or mentioning me by name is provided below. I have also discussed my research during a number of radio and television appearances.

The Wall Street Journal : Supercomputer Embarks on Effort to Help Map the Universe, Dark Energy and All
Newsweek : What's your moonshot? Aaron Meisner and Backyard Worlds Want to Discover Our Solar System's Ninth Planet
CNN : Citizen scientists help discover 95 brown dwarfs that are neighbors of our sun
CBC Radio One : Amateur astronomers use the 'mark one eyeball' to find brown dwarf stars
NASA Feature : Citizen Scientists Help Create 3D Map of Cosmic Neighborhood
BBC : Backyard Worlds: One hundred new 'cool worlds' discovered
KGUN9 Tucson : Astronomers are trying to measure the effects of dark energy on the expansion of the universe
Berkeley News : UC Berkeley, NASA looking for citizen scientists to help find Planet 9
Scientific American : Looking for Planet Nine, Astronomers Gaze into the Abyss
NASA Feature : NASA-funded Website Lets Public Search for New Nearby Worlds
Berkeley Lab : Attention Earthlings: Help Wanted in Finding a New Planet
USA Today : NASA wants you - to find a missing planet
Daily Cal : Two UC Berkeley Researchers Recognized in Forbes '30 Under 30 in Science' List
HubbleSite : NASA Awards Prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowships
Die Welt : Jeder soll bei der Jagd auf Planet Neun mithelfen


I co-founded Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a Zooniverse project consisting of an all-sky crowdsourced motion search built around my time-resolved WISE/NEOWISE coadds. Since launching in February 2017, over 150,000 citizen scientists have contributed to our total of more than 8 million classifications. These contributors include residents of all 50 US states and 167 countries. Backyard Worlds now counts 74,000 registered users, and has benefited enormously from the enthusiasm and dedication of our diverse group of volunteers, some of whom have gone on to receive media recognition for their participation. Four citizen scientists are co-authors on the project's first peer-reviewed publication.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab/Krystofer D.J. Kim

Data Releases

Full-sky WISE/NEOWISE-Reactivation Coadds:

Full-sky, WISE-selected "unWISE Catalog":

DESI pre-imaging surveys DR1-DR9:

Full-sky CatWISE proper motion catalog:

Planck Full-sky Dust Model:

WISE Full-sky 12 micron Dust Emission Map:


Complete List @ NASA ADS

Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Discovery of an Unusual Low-mass Companion to an M Dwarf at 80 pc ; A. Rothermich, A. Schneider, J. Faherty, K. Allers, D. Bardalez Gagliuffi, A. Meisner, M. Kuchner, J. D. Kirkpatrick, D. Caselden, P. Beaulieu
Performance of Kitt Peak's Mayall 4-meter Telescope During DESI Commissioning ; Aaron Meisner, B. Abareshi, A. Dey, C. Rockosi, R. Joyce, D. Sprayberry, R. Besuner, K. Honscheid, D. Kirkby, H. Kong, M. Landriau, M. Levi, T. Li, B. Marshall, P. Martini, A. Ross, D. Brooks, P. Doel, Y. Duan, E. Gaztanaga, C. Magneville, F. Prada, M. Schubnell, G. Tarle
The CatWISE2020 Catalog ; F. Marocco, P. Eisenhardt, J. Fowler, J. D. Kirkpatrick, A. Meisner, E. Schlafly, ...
The Field Substellar Mass Function Based on the Full-sky 20-pc Census of 525 L, T, and Y Dwarfs ; J. D. Kirkpatrick, C. Gelino, J. Faherty, Aaron Meisner, D. Caselden, A. Schneider, F. Marocco, A. Cayago, R. Smart, ...
Second Data Release of the All-sky NOIRLab Source Catalog ; D. Nidever, A. Dey, K. Fasbender, S. Juneau, Aaron Meisner, J. Wishart, A. Scott, K. Matt, R. Nikutta, R. Pucha
Preliminary Target Selection for the DESI Milky Way Survey (MWS)
Preliminary Target Selection for the DESI Bright Galaxy Survey (BGS)
Preliminary Target Selection for the DESI Luminous Red Galaxy (LRG) Sample
Preliminary Target Selection for the DESI Emission Line Galaxy (ELG) Sample
Preliminary Target Selection for the DESI Quasar (QSO) Sample
Spitzer Follow-up of Extremely Cold Brown Dwarfs Discovered by the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Citizen Science Project ; A. Meisner, J. Faherty, J. D. Kirkpatrick, A. Schneider, D. Caselden, J. Gagne, M. Kuchner, A. Burgasser, S. Casewell, J. Debes, E. Artigau, D. Bardalez Gagliuffi, S. Logsdon, R. Kiman, K. Allers, C.-C. Hsu, J. Wisniewski, M. Allen, P. Beaulieu, G. Colin, H. Durantini Luca, S. Goodman, L. Gramaize, L. Hamlet, K. Hinckley, F. Kiwy, D. Martin, W. Pendrill, A. Rothermich, A. Sainio, J. Schumann, N. Stevnbak Andersen, C. Tanner, V. Thakur, M. Thevenot, J. Wall, Z. Wedracki, C. Aganze, R. Gerasimov, C. Theissen, Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Collaboration
Discovery of a Nearby Young Brown Dwarf Disk ; M. Schutte, K. Lawson, J. Wisniewski, M. Kuchner, S. Silverberg, J. Faherty, D. Bardalez Gagliuffi, R. Kiman, J. Gagne, Aaron Meisner, A. Schneider, A. Bans, J. Debes, N. Kovacevic, M. Bosch, H. Durantini Luca, J. Holden, M. Hyogo
WISEA J041451.67−585456.7 and WISEA J181006.18−101000.5: The First Extreme T-type Subdwarfs? ; A. Schneider, A. Burgasser, R. Gerasimov, F. Marocco, J. Gagne, S. Goodman, ..., Aaron Meisner, ...
Discovering New Strong Gravitational Lenses in the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys ; X. Huang, C. Storfer, A. Gu, V. Ravi, A. Pilon, W. Sheu, R. Venguswamy, S. Bankda, A. Dey, M. Landriau, D. Lang, Aaron Meisner, J. Moustakas, A.D. Myers, R. Sajith, E.F. Schlafly, D.J. Schlegel
WISEA J083011.95+283716.0: A Missing Link Planetary-Mass Object ; D. Bardalez Gagliuffi, J. Faherty, A. Schneider, Aaron Meisner, D. Caselden, G. Colin, S. Goodman, J. D. Kirkpatrick, ...
A relativistic outflow from the energetic, fast-rising blue optical transient CSS161010 in a dwarf galaxy ; D.L. Coppejans, R. Margutti, G. Terreran, A.J. Nayana, E.R. Coughlin, T. Laskar, K.D. Alexander, M. Bietenholz, D. Caprioli, P. Chandra, M. Drout, D. Frederiks, C. Frohmaier, K. Hurley, C.S. Kochanek, M. MacLeod, Aaron Meisner, P.E. Nugent, ...
Observing Strategy for the Legacy Surveys ; K. Burleigh, M. Landriau, A. Dey, D. Lang, D. Schlegel, P. Nugent, R. Blum, J. Findlay, D. Finkbeiner, D. Herrera, K. Honscheid, S. Juneau, I. McGreer, Aaron Meisner, ...
The Clustering of DESI-like Luminous Red Galaxies Using Photometric Redshifts ; R. Zhou, J. Newman, Y. Y. Mao, Aaron Meisner, J. Moustakas, A. Myers, ...
Improved infrared photometry and a preliminary parallax measurement for the extremely cold brown dwarf CWISEP J144606.62−231717.8 ; F. Marocco, J. D. Kirkpatrick, Aaron Meisner, D. Caselden, P. Eisenhardt, M. Cushing, J. Faherty, C. Gelino, E. Wright
Expanding the Y Dwarf Census with Spitzer Follow-up of the Coldest CatWISE Solar Neighborhood Discoveries ; Aaron Meisner, D. Caselden, J. D. Kirkpatrick, F. Marocco, C. Gelino, M. Cushing, P. Eisenhardt, E. Wright, J. Faherty, R. Koontz, E. Marchese, M. Khalil, J. Fowler, E. Schlafly
WISE2150-7520AB: A very low mass, wide co-moving brown dwarf system discovered through the citizen science project Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 ; J. Faherty, S. Goodman, D. Caselden, G. Colin, M. Kuchner, Aaron Meisner, J. Gagne, A. Schneider, ...
unWISE Coadds: the Five-year Data Set ; Aaron Meisner, D. Lang, E. Schlafly, D. Schlegel
The CatWISE Preliminary Catalog: Motions from WISE and NEOWISE Data ; P. Eisenhardt, F. Marocco, J. Fowler, Aaron Meisner, J. D. Kirkpatrick, ...
CWISEP J193518.59−154620.3: An Extremely Cold Brown Dwarf in the Solar Neighborhood Discovered with CatWISE ; F. Marocco, D. Caselden, Aaron Meisner, J. D. Kirkpatrick, E. Wright, J. Faherty, C. Gelino, P. Eisenhardt, J. Fowler, M. Cushing, R. Cutri, ...
Finding Strong Gravitational Lenses in the DESI DECam Legacy Survey ; X. Huang, M. Domingo, A. Pilon, V. Ravi, C. Storfer, D. Schlegel, S. Bailey, A. Dey, D. Herrera, S. Juneau, M. Landriau, D. Lang, Aaron Meisner, ...
Mass Spectroscopy of the Milky Way
A 3 Gyr White Dwarf with Warm Dust Discovered via the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Citizen Science Project ; J. Debes, M. Thevenot, M. Kuchner, A. Burgasser, A. Schneider, Aaron Meisner, J. Gagne, J. Faherty, J. Rees, M. Allen, D. Caselden, M. Cushing, J. Wisniewski, K. Allers
The unWISE Catalog: Two Billion Infrared Sources from Five Years of WISE Imaging ; E. Schlafly, Aaron Meisner, G. Green
More unWISE Coadd Epochs from 2016 NEOWISE-Reactivation Imaging ; Aaron Meisner, D. Lang, D. Schlegel
A Secure W2 Detection of WD 0806-661B from CatWISE ; Aaron Meisner, M. Cushing, R. Cutri, P. Eisenhardt, J. Faherty, J. Fowler, N. Garcia, A. Gonzalez, T. Jarrett, J.D. Kirkpatrick, R. Koontz, A. Mainzer, E. Marchese, F. Marocco, B. Mobasher D. Schlegel, S.A. Stanford, D. Stern, H. Teplitz, E. Wright
A Mid-IR Selected Changing-Look Quasar and Physical Scenarios for Abrupt AGN Fading ; D. Stern, B. McKernan, M. Graham, K. Ford, N. Ross, Aaron Meisner, R. Assef, M. Balokovic, M. Brightman, A. Dey, A. Drake, S. Djorgovski, P. Eisenhardt, H. Jun
A New Physical Interpretation of Optical and Infrared Variability in Quasars ; N. Ross, K. Ford, M. Graham, B. McKernan, D. Stern, Aaron Meisner, R. Assef, A. Dey, A. Drake, H. Jun, D. Lang
Overview of the DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys ; A. Dey, D. Schlegel, D. Lang, R. Blum, K. Burleigh, X. Fan, J. Findlay, D. Finkbeiner, D. Herrera, S. Juneau, M. Landriau, M. Levi, I. McGreer, Aaron Meisner, ...
Another unWISE Update: The Deepest Ever Full-sky Maps at 3-5 microns ; Aaron Meisner, D. Lang, D. Schlegel
A 3pi Search for Planet Nine at 3.4 microns with WISE and NEOWISE ; Aaron Meisner, B. Bromley, S. Kenyon, T. Anderson
Time-resolved WISE/NEOWISE Coadds ; Aaron Meisner, D. Lang, D. Schlegel
The DECam Plane Survey: Optical photometry of two billion objects in the southern Galactic plane ; E. Schlafly, G. Green, D. Lang, T. Daylan, D. Finkbeiner, A. Lee, Aaron Meisner, D. Schlegel, F. Valdes
Deep Full-sky Coadds from Three Years of WISE and NEOWISE Observations ; Aaron Meisner, D. Lang, D. Schlegel
The First Brown Dwarf Discovered by the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Citizen Science Project ; M. Kuchner, J. Faherty, A. Schneider, Aaron Meisner, J. Filippazzo, J. Gagne, L. Trouille, S. Silverberg, R. Castro, B. Fletcher, K. Mokaev, T. Stajic
The DESI Experiment Part II: Instrument Design
The DESI Experiment Part I: Science,Targeting, and Survey Design
Searching for Planet Nine with Coadded WISE and NEOWISE-Reactivation Images ; Aaron Meisner, B. Bromley, P. Nugent, D. Schlegel, S. Kenyon, E. Schlafly, K. Dawson
CARMA Large Area Star Formation Survey: Dense Gas in the Young L1451 Region of Perseus ; S. Storm, L. Mundy, K. Lee, M. Fernandez-Lopez, L. Looney, P. Teuben, H. Arce, E. Rosolowsky, Aaron Meisner, A. Isella, J. Kauffmann, Y. Shirley, W. Kwon, A. Plunkett, M. Pound, D. Segura-Cox, K. Tassis, J. Tobin, N. Volgenau, R. Crutcher, L. Testi
Full-depth Coadds of the WISE and First-year NEOWISE-Reactivation Images ; Aaron Meisner, D. Lang, D. Schlegel
The Optical-Infrared Extinction Curve and its Variation in the Milky Way ; E. Schlafly, Aaron Meisner, A. Stutz, J. Kainulainen, J. Peek, K. Tchernyshyov, H.-W. Rix, D. Finkbeiner, K. Covey, G. Green, E. Bell, W. Burgett, K. Chambers, P. Draper, H. Flewelling, K. Hodapp, N. Kaiser, E. Magnier, N. Martin, N. Metcalfe, R. Wainscoat, C. Waters
A Case Against Spinning PAHs as the Source of the Anomalous Microwave Emission ; B. Hensley, B. Draine, Aaron Meisner
Results from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) Future Uses Session at the WISE at 5 Meeting
Modeling Thermal Dust Emission with Two Components: Application to the Planck HFI Maps ; Aaron Meisner, D. Finkbeiner
A Full-sky, High-resolution Atlas of Galactic 12 micron Dust Emission with WISE ; Aaron Meisner, D. Finkbeiner
The Metallicity of the Monoceros Stream ; Aaron Meisner, A. Frebel, M. Juric, D. Finkbeiner
Quasar Selection Based on Photometric Variability ; C. MacLeod, K. Brooks, Z. Ivezic, C. Kochanek, R. Gibson, Aaron Meisner, S. Kozlowski, B. Sesar, A. C. Becker, W. de Vries
Imaging Redshift Estimates for BL Lacertae Objects ; Aaron Meisner, R. Romani


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