Social distancing didn’t stop our Skynet Scholars this spring. The program moved online for its last two sessions in April as the students created images they took through world-class, research-grade telescopes from around the globe. In its fifth semester at the Bell Museum, participating students learned how to take, process, and analyze images of deep-space objects using internet-controlled telescopes. By controlling factors such as exposure time, selecting filters to look at specific wavelengths of light, and using imaging software to create colored images, students studied distant galaxies, tracked asteroids, and colored the remains of dead stars.
Special guest speakers Larry Rudnick, professor from the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics, and Brad Holschuh, co-director of the Wearable Technology Lab and assistant professor from the department of Design, Housing, and Apparel, helped take the learning beyond the computer and internet. These in-person and virtual experiences with University researchers introduce Skynet Scholars to a wide range of STEM fields and the real people doing science and engineering. Rudnick shared his expertise in radio astronomy, connecting to student projects that utilize the 20 meter radio telescope in Greenbank, West Virginia. Holschuh expanded student awareness of where a passion for astronomy can take them by integrating science and engineering with fashion design. Having designed better spacesuits in the past, Holschuh now works on a wide range of projects that integrate technology into everyday, comfortable clothing.
Check out this sample of images taken by Skynet students this spring!
Image from Skynet user Pisces_Bell18. M100 - Spiral Galaxy. Telescope: RRRT in North Carolina. Exposure Time: 20.0 seconds. Filter: OpenThis is a raw image.
Image from Skynet user Pisces_Bell18. M82 - Cigar Galaxy. Telescope: AURT in Canada. Exposure Time: 20.0 seconds per filter. Filters: red, blue, and green. I used Astro Image Processor to make a color image.
Image from Skynet user Pisces_Bell18. M27 - Dumbell Nebula. Telescope: DSO-14 in North Carolina. Exposure Time: 30.0 seconds per filter, 90.0 seconds total. Filters: U,V, and R. I used Astro Image Processor to make a color image.
Image from Skynet user Lupus_Bell20. Observation and tool details: Sombrero Galaxy Three Images with Red, Green, and Blue Filters. 15 Second Exposures. Date taken: 2020-Feb-23. Images processed with JS9. https://js9.si.edu/
Image from Skynet user Lupus_Bell20. RGB filtered and together. Observation and tool details: Sombrero Galaxy Three Images with Red, Green, and Blue Filters. 15 Second Exposures. Date taken: 2020-Feb-23. Images processed with JS9. https://js9.si.edu/
Image from Skynet user Pegasus_Bell18. M110: Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy. Telescope: AURT in Canada. 100 seconds of exposure. Filter: Lum.
Images from Skynet user Pegasus_Bell18. PGC 13826 - spiral galaxy in the constellation Camelopardalis. Telescope: AURT in Canada. Filter: Lum filter. 37 seconds of exposure time.
Image from Skynet user Octans_Bell20. M79 - Globular Star Cluster. Telescope: PROMPT3 in Chile. Exposure time: 1.5 seconds. First image by this student on day one of the class.