Project Overview

Optical Variability of Quasars and Stars at the Colgate Observatory

Faculty Sponsor

Thomas Balonek (tbalonek@colgate.edu)

Department(s)

Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

Several positions are available in the ongoing study of the optical variability of quasars and stars under the direction of Prof. Thomas Balonek. You will participate in all stages of the research: planning and conducting nighttime observations at the Colgate Foggy Bottom Observatory, calibrating electronic CCD images, extracting numerical information from the images, analyzing data (including extensive use of graphs and statistical analysis), and organizing results for written and oral presentations. You will be spending many nights observing with fellow research students. You may present your scientific results at the Fall 2020 Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Student Research Symposium. Prior computer programming or observing experience is valuable, but not required. 
 

Student Qualifications

Students will be trained in the observing and image analysis procedures during the summer, so prior experience is not necessary to participate in this project. Priority may be given to students who have taken the Astronomical Techniques (ASTR 312) course. At least two students per night will be required to work for the full night on clear evenings throughout the summer, including weekends. The first few weeks of the summer will be focused on training in the observing, image calibration and data reduction procedures. Students will see all steps of the research project: background research, planning and conducting observations, calibrating data, extracting numerical information from the images, analyzing data (including extensive use of graphs and statistical analysis), and organizing their results for written and oral presentations. Working together in small research groups (and with me) help students see the collaborative nature of scientific studies. At the end of the summer, students typically devote one to two weeks writing a paper and preparing a talk for the fall KNAC Student Research Symposium. 

Preferred dates: 10-week period May 25 – July 31.
 

Number of Student Researchers

4 students

Project Length

10 weeks


Applications open on 01/03/2020 and close on 02/05/2020


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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (kgbelanger@colgate.edu).