Caltech ZTF Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute

A new feature of the Caltech ZTF project is the “Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute” which is designed 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 was conducted on four days – June 24-27. It began at Caltech with two days of talks, lab tours, and lectures (with a visit to Mt. Wilson), followed by two days at Pomona College with hands-on observing, and the use of the brand-new planetarium facility at Pomona College. Our group included seven undergraduates working on SURF projects at Caltech, and seven students working on SURP programs from Pomona College. Highlights from the program included an opening dinner at the Atheneum, with a talk by Caltech author Sean Carroll (author of the new book “The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World”), a night of visual observing with the Mt. Wilson 60” telescope, tours of Caltech instrument labs, and hands-on observing and data analysis clinics at Pomona College, and a night of observations at the Pomona College Brackett Observatory. A few days later we took the entire group up to Palomar Observatory, where we enjoyed a tour of the site, and got a chance to watch the 200″ telescope in action. It was an amazing experience!

More information on the program, the participants, and resources and datasets are provided on the web site for the program at

Below are some pictures from the program – which began this year in 2015 and will continue for four more years. Please email me if you have questions or would like to participate as an institution, or join our Undergraduate Astronomy Institute!


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