Union Joins NASA NY Space Grant Program

Union College was invited this year to become an affiliate member of the NASA NY Space Grant consortium, a program to support and enhance science and engineering education at 20 institutions across NY State. The program sponsored summer research projects by three Union students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. The program also makes Union students eligible for internships at NASA centers and at industrial partners across the country.

John Robens ’09 worked with Prof. Rebecca Koopmann on a project titled “Searching for Optical Counterparts of Galaxies and Tidal Streams Detected by the ALFALFA Survey.” He analyzed optical images from the Cerro Tololo Observatory in Chile, via the Small and Moderate Aperture Research Telescope System, to search for visible-light signs of galaxies detected at radio wavelengths by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.

David Barker ’09 and Daniel Barringer ’11 used the Union College Observatory 20-inch telescope in their research with Professor and Observatory Manager Francis Wilkin. Both projects used the telescope to monitor small changes in the light from distant stars. Barringer’s project, “Searching for Eclipses of Extrasolar Planets,” used the telescope to look for a slight dimming of the light from a distant star as a planet orbiting that star passes between it and Earth. Barker’s project, “CCD Photometry of Variable Stars and Transiting Planets,” is aimed at tracking how the light output of variable sources changes in time.

For more details, see the Union College Chronicle.