All posts by Aashish Sunar

Mount Wilson Observing!

After fires delayed our viewing session during the Undergraduate institute, we rescheduled our Mount Wilson viewing for July 15. We had a fantastic group – over 30 people – that included a mix of our summer undergraduate institute, friends of the program (Cameron Hummels, and Brian Brophy), and some friends of the students. It was a lively and magic evening. It felt as if we were transported back in time to when Edwin Hubble and Harlow Shapley were using this same telescope to measure the expansion of the universe and structure and size of the Milky Way galaxy!   The students had a fantastic time, and we saw the Moon, Saturn, Mars, the Ring Nebula, a Wolf Rayet star, and Albiereo through the eyepeice of the historic 60″ telescope.  Our night assistants, Giovanni, Bruce Padgett (with beret), and Tim Thompson, did a masterful job explaining the history of the telescope, its mechanical features, and guiding us through a wonderful star party. Below are some photos from the event!

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Photos and Talks are online!

Our photos from the 2016 ZTF Summer Undergraduate Institute are online!  You can access pages that provide a gallery of photos from each of the days at Caltech, BBSO, or Pomona, as well as from our Palomar trip. The photo overview page gives links to each day’s photos. Also we have placed the PPT files for each of the talks at Caltech and at BBSO online. These talks are available at the ZTF schedule page – just after the listing for each speaker.  Thanks to all who made this Institute an amazing experience!  We are very grateful to the Caltech faculty, staff, postdocs and graduate students, and to Loredana Vertere and Jay Pasachoff for their contributions. Also the Palomar staff and Tom Kupfer, our very generous 200″ observer made for a magical Palomar experience. And Natalie Hughes and Eric Bellm who made huge contributions in organizing the Pomona and Caltech parts of the program!  Thanks!

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Welcome to the 2016 Institute!

Welcome to all of our 2016 Undergraduate Astronomy Institute participants and mentors!  We are excited to have our second Caltech/Pomona Undergraduate Astronomy Institute, on June 20-24 at Caltech and Pomona College. We included in the program some really special events – such as a dinner with the producer of The Martian, Aditya Sood, a night on the Mt. Wilson 60″ telescope, and a tour of the Big Bear Solar Observatory!  All of this on top of a group of amazing talks on ZTF and Caltech research in astronomy and astrophysics, instrument lab tours, and hands-on workshops on data analysis. This project is all funded by our NSF grant to develop ZTF. A big part of developing ZTF is developing the next generation of researchers in time-domain astrophysics, and we hope that this workshop is helpful for launching your research and developing a network of fellow students and mentors that include Caltech graduate students, postdocs, and professors from Caltech, Pomona and Wlliams. We hope you enjoy the Institute and look forward to working with all of you!

Bryan Penprase, Pomona College / Yale-NUS College, ZTF Co-I

Eric Bellm, Caltech ZTF Project Scientist

Photos – Pomona College

These are some of the photos from our Caltech/Pomona Undergraduate Astronomy Institute at Pomona College on June 26 and 27, 2015. You can click on the photos for larger downloadable full-sized images.

We also have a number of student contributed pages at our Facebook page which is at


Farewell Pizza Dinner Group Photos – June 27, 2015.

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Students Working on Python Image Processing Demonstration – June 27IMG_3707

Student Research talks – June 27, 2015IMG_3710 IMG_3714

Brackett Observatory Spectroscopy Work – June 26, 2015IMG_3703




Tutorial on Swift GRB followup by Loredana Vertere – June 26IMG_3696



Group Photo of Caltech Scavenger Hunt winners outside of Millikan Planetarium – June 26, 2015  IMG_3689

Group Photos outside of our Millikan Physics Math and Astronomy Building, June 26, 2015  IMG_3686 IMG_3687 IMG_3682 IMG_3684 IMG_3685


Tour of KAPAO Adaptive Optics Lab of Phil Choi, Pomona College, June 26, 2015IMG_3675 IMG_3677

Lunch at Millikan – June 26, 2015 IMG_3680

Tutorial on Adaptive Optics from Phil Choi and Scott Severson, June 26, 2015IMG_3669 IMG_3672 IMG_3673 IMG_3674

Welcome to our new ZTF Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute Page!

Welcome to our ZTF Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute Web site!  Eric Bellm, the Caltech Project Scientist for ZTF and Bryan Penprase from Pomona College and Co-I on the ZTF project, have been working together on a program for astrophysics undergraduates working both at Caltech and at Pomona College this summer. The program is known as the “Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute” and is intended to help students learn about the science and technology surrounding their summer research projects, and to learn more about ZTF – the Zwicky Transient Factory. ZTF promises to be the premier instrument for discovering supernovae, variable stars and new asteroids, and this Institute will give you a great overview of techniques in time-domain astrophysics, observational astronomy and instrument development.

The institute is scheduled for four days – June 24-27 and includes two days at Caltech, and two days at Pomona College, along with an additional day at Palomar Observatory (with an evening at the 200″) on July 19. You can find more information on the Program, Participants, and some useful resources for Python and ZTF at this site!