Astronomy Research Seminars
The Seminar Approach

The fundamental goals of all Seminar courses are to expose Seminar researchers to a rigorous, in-depth, team-led research experience that leads to scientific publications. While the Seminar thus far focuses on different aspects of the astronomical sciences, Seminar researchers do not need, per se, any background in astronomy to have a Seminar experience.

 

A larger goal of the Seminar is to help Seminar researchers have a greater understanding, and appreciation, of the scientific method, scientific way-of-thinking, and critical thinking, as well as the practical aspects of conducting real science. We hope that this knowledge and experience will positively impact society so that more people have the ability to think and act in a scientifically rigorous manner to promote sound public policies and science policies. 

Below is a list and description of the different types of Seminars that are offered or will be offered in the near-future. They are generally ordered, from top to bottom, in terms of general difficulty and the astronomy background that will be helpful for participants to possess. Potential Seminar researchers are encouraged to take the Basic Double Star Astrometry course first, which will build their skills for more time-intensive Seminars.

Basic Double Star Astrometry

Astrometry, which in its most fundamental form involves finding the positions of celestial objects in the sky, is also one of the fundamental types of astronomical research. Whether it is fast-moving asteroids, newly-discovered supernovae, or planetary moons, determining the positions of objects is a basic need for astronomers. 

In this Seminar, researchers will either directly obtain or receive a small astrometric dataset of one or more binary stars with the goal of measuring the position angle and separation distances between the two stars in each system. The practical goal is to add additional data point(s) to orbital plots of the selected binary star system(s) to assisting in determining whether the stars are gravitationally bound or are only optical double stars. This type of research is a long-term effort that requires decades of observations and Seminar researchers provide valuable input into these efforts. Research teams will also write, revise, and submit a manuscript for publication to a journal such as the Journal of Double Star Observations (JDSO). 

Seminars are typically conducted through the use of Zoom (zoom.us) online video/audio sessions and the Canvas Learning Management System (LMS). Different versions of the course and different instructors may utilize different software and learning tools, so please consult with the individual instructor to learn of the tools that will be used for a given course. 

The next course offerings through InStAR will be:

  • Basic Double Star Astrometry: June 25 - August 17, 2018. Register for the course here.
    Instructor: Rachel Freed, r.freed2010@gmail.com.  

  • Basic Double Star Astrometry: October 22 - December 14, 2018.
    Interferometry of Close Binary Stars: October 22 - December 14, 2018. 
    Instructor: Russell Genet, russmgenet@aol.com

Asteroid Astrometry

Astrometry, which in its most fundamental form involves finding the positions of celestial objects in the sky, is also one of the fundamental types of astronomical research. Whether it is fast-moving asteroids, newly-discovered supernovae, or planetary moons, determining the positions of objects is a basic need for astronomers. 

 

In this Seminar, researchers will be given calibrated astronomical data of a main-belt or Near-Earth Asteroid, they will learn to understand the different characteristics and features of astronomical images, learn how to use commonly available astrometry software, and subsequently reduce their dataset to determine the astronomical coordinates of their moving asteroid in a set of images. The end result will be the production of a real-world International Astronomical Union (IAU) Minor Planet Center (MPC) report that will be submitted to the MPC for verification and acceptance. 

Acceptance of a team's MPC Report will lead to an official citation and publication, which will appear in publication databases, such as the NASA Astrophysics Data System (ads.harvard.edu). There are no prerequisites for this Seminar, but researchers should be comfortable learning new computer software. 

 

Upcoming Asteroid Astrometry Research Seminars:

 

Above is a short movie displaying the motion of main-belt asteroid (639) Latona. Seminar researchers will measure the position of an asteroid in each image and create an IAU Minor Planet Center (MPC) report that will be submitted for acceptance.

Asteroids: Light Curves and Rotation Rates

For the more than 500,000 known asteroids that reside in orbits between Mars and Jupiter in the solar system, the vast majority of them have received scant attention and study and, thus, are ripe targets for investigation. Obtaining basic information about main-belt asteroids, such as their shapes, sizes, diameters, and rotation rates, provide crucial information for more advanced studies with the large professional astronomical observatories on the ground and in space. This is an area of solar system science where students and amateur astronomers can make consistent and valuable contributions to our understand of the solar system and its evolution. 

This Seminar will provide students with the data, software, and background information to successfully derive an asteroid's light curve and rotation rate. Utilizing MPO Canopus, which can be used on PC computers, students will receive and learn about their astronomical data set, will learn how to evaluate the quality of their data, learn how to use Canopus, and produce the best quality light curve possible. In addition, students will use Canopus to estimate the rotation rate of their asteroid from the light curve. 

The culmination of this student team-based exercise will be the drafting of a research paper detailing their results, which will be published later in an appropriate journal. Students will also receive instruction on scientific writing, the typical structure found in many research publications, and the scientific writing style. Students will write their research paper and receive feedback from the instructor through several iterations until they produce a quality, publishable product. 

 

Instructor: Paul S. Hardersen, Ph.D.

Email: research@in4star.org

Dates: September 7, 2018 to December 7, 2018.

Cost: $750

Registration: OPEN

 

Questions? Please write to Paul Hardersen at research@in4star.org 

 

 

For the more than 500,000 known asteroids that reside in orbits between Mars and Jupiter in the solar system, the vast majority of them have received scant attention and study and, thus, are ripe targets for investigation. Obtaining basic information about main-belt asteroids, such as their shapes, sizes, diameters, and rotation rates, provide crucial information for more advanced studies with the large professional astronomical observatories on the ground and in space. This is an area of solar system science where students and amateur astronomers can make consistent and valuable contributions to our understand of the solar system and its evolution. 

This Seminar will provide students with the data, software, and background information to successfully derive an asteroid's light curve and rotation rate. Utilizing MPO Canopus, which can be used on PC computers, students will receive and learn about their astronomical data set, will learn how to evaluate the quality of their data, learn how to use Canopus, and produce the best quality light curve possible. In addition, students will use Canopus to estimate the rotation rate of their asteroid from the light curve. 

The culmination of this student team-based exercise will be the drafting of a research paper detailing their results, which will be published later in an appropriate journal. Students will also receive instruction on scientific writing, the typical structure found in many research publications, and the scientific writing style. Students will write their research paper and receive feedback from the instructor through several iterations until they produce a quality, publishable product. 

 

Instructor: Paul S. Hardersen, Ph.D.

Email: research@in4star.org

Dates: September 7, 2018 to December 7, 2018.

Cost: $750

Registration: OPEN

 

Questions? Please write to Paul Hardersen at research@in4star.org 

 

 

Exoplanet Photometry

Description and details will be coming soon!

Solar Research

Description and details will be coming soon!

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Institute for Student Astronomical Research (InStAR)
Rachel Freed

Email: r.freed2010@gmail.com   Phone: 707-326-8310

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