Press Release

CUREA 2003 to offer in-residence educaitonal program at Mount Wilson Observatory August 11-23

By SpaceRef Editor
April 3, 2003
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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 14th time this summer, from August 11 through 23,
2003. The program is aimed at undergraduate physics and astronomy majors,
with junior or senior standing, who are considering a career in science or
science 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 and a
unique atomic-beam solar oscillation spectrometer; 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, using the horizontal solar telescope
and the other instruments. 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″ 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 Palomar Observatory. The tuition fee of $1550 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 discover 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. The 150-foot and 60-foot solar tower telescopes are still in
daily use to study the magnetic field and atmospheric motions of the Sun.

Following the early tradition of Michelson and interferometry at Mount Wilson,
scientists from the University of California at Berkeley has 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 2003, see or contact:
program director Dr. Paula Turner. E-mail: [email protected], phone:
(740) 427-5367. The application deadline for the 2003 program is April 25,
and applications are available online at

SpaceRef staff editor.