Global Observatory Network for Solar System Observations (GONSSO)

During the early part of 2015, I organized a conference at Yale-NUS College, Singapore, that gathered astronomers from across Asia to discuss ways to coordinate our observing and to do some exciting new projects in time-domain astronomy. The meeting web site is at The meeting included a day of discussions at our Yale-NUS College in Singapore, and a day at the nearby National University of Singapore.  During the meeting we were joined by astronomers from California (Caltech + Pomona C0llege), India (IUCAA), Thailand (NARIT), Taiwan (NCU and Lulin Observatory), South Korea (SNU), the Phillipines (Chris Go), Malaysia (Malaysian National Observatory), and Turkey (ISTEK). We also had a fantastic clinic on high-resolution imaging of Jupiter from Chris Go, one of the leading ground-based amateur astronomers, and a visit by Glenn Orton, project scientist for the NASA Juno mission, who discussed how a global campaign of observing can support the Juno mission to Jupiter. The next day included presentations from the entire group on their exciting research, and open-ended discussions on how to collaborate. Our next step will be to launch a “global Jupiter campaign” as Jupiter enters opposition. During two three-day windows, our entire network of observatories will work together to create two full-planet maps of Jupiter and these will be analyzed to detect motions within the cloud decks of Jupiter. We also will be working to help incorporate some of these observatories into collaborative projects with the Caltech Zwicky Transient Factory (ZTF) project for time-domain astrophysics. It should be exciting!

Below are some pictures from our meeting.



Above: Chow Choong Ngeow, from Taiwan’s Lulin Observatory and the National Central University of Taiwan explains some of the science highlights from his observatory to our audience gathered at the NUS ICCP9 part of our conference.


The audience for the NUS ICCP9 session – which included astronomers from Yale-NUS, NUS, Pomona College, Seoul National University, Langkawi Observatory (Malaysia), NARIT (Thailand), and other parts of the world.



Chris Go, from the Philippines poses with Bryan Penprase, the conference organizer.



Pomona College student Franklin Marsh poses with Chris Go in the Yale-NUS College computer lab.



Our hands-on imaging clinic made use of the best available software for providing HST-like images of Jupiter. Here both Chris and Glenn help users work with the software packages in the Yale-NUS Computer lab. Glenn confers with Franklin about Jupiter (left), and the group works on their images (right).

Visit to Lulin Observatory, Taiwan

During December of 2014 the National Central University, Taiwan, invited me to visit them and give a scientific talk to their astronomy department. While there I had a chance to visit their Lulin Observatory, one of the leading Asian observatories, with several large 1.0-meter class telescopes and a new 2.0 meter telescope in the works. The Lulin Observatory is near a national park near Jade Mountain – a summit taller than Mount Fuji! Within the Observatory are a number of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars working on projects related to solar system research and collaborations with Caltech’s Palomar Transient Factory. In the coming years the NCU and Lulin Observatory may be hosting student researchers from Yale_NUS College and from Pomona College, as part of a summer undergraduate research internship being designed during 2014-2015. These photos are from the summit of the observatory and show the telescopes, our friendly crew that hosted me during the overnight visit, and some of the instruments. In the coming years Lulin and NCU will be major partners with Caltech in the new ZTF project, and have been developing an amazing new instrument known as the SED-machine.

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Visit to NCU, Taiwan

As part of my astronomy research, I am visiting NCU Taiwan, where Wing Ip has invited me to visit their Lulin Observatory and to give a talk on Friday. NCU is the former Nanjing University from mainland China, which was relocated to Taiwan after 1947. It is one of the leading research universities of Taiwan, and is a partner in the Caltech ZTF project, and one of the global observatories that our ZTF team is working with for following up sources discovered at Palomar.


Global Observatory Conference in Singapore – Jan. 8-9, 2015

We are having a conference in Singapore, gathering astronomers from Thailand, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan, Philippines, India and California, to discuss new modes of observing that make use of coordinated global networks of telescopes.

Our web site for the meeting is at – below is a map showing the observatories that are participating in the meeting.

Welcome to my “media platform!”

This is my experiment to bring the many different projects I am working on – liberal arts in Asia, astrophysics of quasars, time-domain astronomy, STEM education, archaeoastronomy, and book writing – all in one place!  Some call this a “media platform” and so for now that is what I am calling it. I hope you enjoy the materials, links and resources here!

Bryan Penprase

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!