Program – 2015

Below is the program for our 2015 Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute, which ran from June 24-27 at Caltech and Pomona College. We convened for two days at Caltech, with a field excursion to the Mt. Wilson Observatory, and a dinner at the Caltech Atheneum. Then we had two days at Pomona College that will feature a chance to do hands-on work on SWIFT GRB followup and adaptive optics, work with our new planetarium facility, and a chance to conduct new observations with our on campus Brackett Observatory. An additional evening at Palomar Observatory on July 19 featured observations with the 200″ telescope and tours of the entire site and the 48″ and 60″ telescopes.

Day 1 – Wednesday, June 24, 2015 – Caltech Orientation and Talks 

Day 1 features a round-up of talks from the research mentors and leads in the ZTF project. The goal is to give you a sense of the astrophysical and technical context of your projects. Scientific talks will highlight some of the recent research results from the Caltech investigators, and how the your summer project will contribute to the research. From this day you will learn about not only their own projects, but will gain awareness of the larger community of investigators at Caltech and the scientific and technical projects of your fellow students.

9:00AM Welcome and introductions – Bryan Penprase / Eric Bellm

9:15AM Introduction to PTF , ZTF, & Time Domain Astronomy – Eric Bellm

PDF file of talk by Eric Bellm – Bellm_PTF-ZTF

10:00AM The Caltech PIRE and Global Telescope network – Bryan Penprase

PDF file of talk by Bryan Penprase –

PDF for Exercise with Asteroid observation with Global Telescope Network –global.relay.asteroids

PDF listing of Global Telescope Network properties from PIRE GROWTH and GONSSO –global.obs.handout

10:30AM coffee

11:00AM Science from PTF – Novae and transients – Yi Cao

PDF of talk by Yi Cao – cao_ZTF_undergrad_June2015_2

Cool video of supernovae –

11:30AM Science from PTF – Variable Stars – Adam Miller

PDF of talk by Adam Miller –

12:00AM – Lunch

1:30PM – Science from PTF – Pulsars & X-ray counterparts – Eric Bellm

PDF of talk by Eric Bellm – Bellm_PTF-x-ray

2:00PM – PTF Data Processing – Jason Surace

PPT of talk by Jason Surace – Surace_PTF_2015_Student_workshop

2:30PM – Science from CRTS – Matthew Graham

PDF of talk by Matthew Graham –Graham.SUAI2015

3:00PM – Brainstorming observatory proposal activity + scavenger hunt at Caltech

Handout of groups and Scavenger Hunt – groups.scavenger.hunt

Facebook page for our ZTF Undergraduate Institute – with pictures from hunt! –

4:00PM – Break for afternoon

6:00PM Atheneum Dinner and Talk – Sean Carroll, “The Higgs Boson: The Particle at the End of the Universe.” (Atheneum Library)

Link to Sean Carroll’s excellent book with the same title –

Day 2 – Thursday, June 25, 2015 – Caltech Lab Tours and Technology 

Day 2 features a set of lab tours and discussions of the technical background within the ZTF projects. It also features a series of short talks from Caltech graduate students, who in many cases will be mentors this summer. A short pair of background talks about astronomical imaging, CCD technologies and telescope and instrument optics will give some good fundamental background during the summer, and will include hands-on exercises.

9:15AM Hands-on Image Processing basics – Penprase

Handout of Hands-on Image Processing Exercise – image.processing.exercise

10:00AM Caltech Instrument Labs – an Overview of current projects – Roger Smith

PDF of Roger Smith’s talk – Smith_R_2015-06-25 ZTF summer school

10:30AM coffee

11:00AM Highlights from Graduate Student Research (3 short talks: Gina Duggan, Pavan Bilgi, Jacob Jencson)

12:00AM – lunch with graduate students and undergraduates

1:30PM – Lab Tours – with demonstrations of optical instrument development – Roger Smith & friends

3:00PM – Adjourn for Afternoon – Free for research, rest and study

6:30PM – Field Excursion – Visual Observing with the Mt. Wilson 60” telescope!

11:00PM – return to Caltech Campus

Day 3 – Friday, June 26, 2015 – Hands-on Observational Work at Pomona College

Day 3 features a set of lectures on observational astronomy, a clinic on GRB followup and data analysis, some solar observing, and a chance to do some hands-on observing with the Pomona College Brackett Observatory telescopes.

9:30AM Welcome and overview of Pomona Observatories – Bryan Penprase / Phil Choi / Loredana Vertere

10:00AM Adaptive Optics – Lecture and Demonstration – Phil Choi and Scott Severson

12:30-1:30PM – Solar astronomy observing + lunch (Brackett Observatory)

1:30PM  SWIFT data analysis and GRB followup clinic – Loredana Vertere

4:00PM – Tour of new Pomona College Physics and Astronomy building – Bryan Penprase

4:30PM – Afternoon Break

6:30PM Dinner at Claremont restaurant – Thai Bua

8:00PM – Brackett Observatory evening observing – basic Lucky Imaging (Brackett dome) and basic spectroscopy (Whitney Dome) with possible remote observing to Table Mountain Observatory

11:00PM – adjourn

Day 4 – Saturday, June 27, 2015 – Hands-on Data Analysis at Pomona College + Planetarium Demo

Day 4 features a planetarium demonstration, more lectures on observational astronomy in the morning, and a chance to reduce some of the images taken during the evening. We will also have presentations from the group about their research – each student will give an 8 minute talk about their research. At the end of the day we will ask students to write up a short proposal about how they might imagine using ZTF for research, and also a short piece about the Institute and how it has changed their understanding about astronomy and their research project.

10:00AM – Planetarium Tour and Show

11:00AM – Image Processing clinic using Python, Pyraf, and ZTF, Terapix programs

12:00PM – lunch + Solar Observing (Brackett Observatory)

1:30PM – Discussion of Student summer research projects (each student gives a 7 minute talk on their research)

3:30PM – Proposal Writing session for ZTF science projects and wrap-up.

5:30PM – Pizza Dinner in town – Pizza ‘n Such restaurant

7:30 PM – return students to Caltech

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