CUREA 2007 to offer educational program at Mount Wilson Observatory July 8-21

Posted On March 5, 2007

The Consortium for Undergraduate Research and Education in Astronomy (CUREA) will repeat its highly successful in-residence educational program at Mount Wilson Observatory for the 18th time this summer, from July 8 through 21, 2007. The program is aimed at undergraduate physics and astronomy
majors who have completed at least one year of physics coursework, preferably including some modern physics, and who are considering a career in science or teaching.

Staff and students will pursue a short on-site course in astrophysics and observational astronomy using the historic facilities at Mount Wilson. Instruments available to the students will include the Snow Horizontal Solar Telescope, used in conjunction with a high-resolution spectrograph; a 16-inch Meade LX200 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with CCD camera and SBIG stellar spectrograph; and the historic 60-inch reflector, used by Harlow Shapley to discover the size of the Milky Way Galaxy.

The CUREA program will emphasize how our present understanding of the Sun has been achieved and how it relates to the astrophysics of all stars. The emphasis will be on hands-on experience. Attention will be devoted to many observable solar phenomena, such as sunspots, granulation, limb darkening, important spectral lines, Zeeman splitting of solar lines, the measurement of solar rotation using the Doppler shift of a spectral line, and observation of the solar 5-minute oscillations. Nighttime observing will extend to celestial objects such as the Moon, planets, variable stars, clusters, galaxies and other deep-sky objects. Students will learn how to process CCD images and spectra from the 16-inch telescope. Discussions led by staff members will deal with topics in astrophysics as well as the design and use of the available telescopes and their accessories. During the second week of the program, each student will work on a special project she or he has chosen.

Additional activities will include an introduction to ongoing Mount Wilson research projects, short presentations on important contemporary and historical astronomical topics, special lectures by distinguished astronomers, tours of research facilities on the mountain, and field trips to JPL, Caltech and Griffith Observatory. The tuition fee of $1500 covers all expenses during the two weeks of the course, including room and board on the mountain. Students will reside in Mount Wilson's famous "Monastery," home of resident astronomers since the days of Hale and Hubble.

Mount Wilson Observatory is the home of a group of telescopes that have, for many decades, made important contributions to astronomy. The Snow Telescope was the first major solar telescope in the world and the first telescope to be installed on Mount Wilson when George Ellery Hale founded the Observatory in 1904. The 100-inch telescope was used by Edwin Hubble to determine the expansion of the Universe. The 60-inch telescope for many years explored how other stars that look like the sun also behave like the sun in its 22-year-long magnetic activity cycle. Following the early tradition of Albert Michelson and interferometry at Mount Wilson, scientists from the University of California at Berkeley have built an interferometer for very high angular resolution studies of bright stars at infrared wavelengths, and Georgia State's Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) has built the world's largest optical interferometer array at Mount Wilson.

For more information about CUREA 2007, see or contact: program director Dr. Paula Turner. E-mail:, phone: (740) 427-5367. The application deadline for the 2007 program is March 15.