The Orion Nebula, as taken from the Friedman Observatory

Students participate in research at the Friedman Observatory

As a spring-board for additional research, the project demon­strates what can be done by students who have an interest in setting their sights on the night sky.

By: Susan Hales

The Friedman family recently donated a specialized digital camera for use with the 16-inch Meade tele­scope at the Friedman Observatory. This camera has the ability to capture celestial images through the telescope, providing greater opportunities for astronomical research.

Three Penn State Wilkes-Barre students conducted research with Dr. Violet Mager and Observatory Assistant Jonathan Belanger during the Spring 2019 semester. These students were instrumental in researching how to use the new camera with the observatory’s telescope, as well as troubleshooting issues encountered during its setup and initial use. The students also documented a methodology for using the camera in future research projects.

In the course of the project, the students learned a great deal about astronomy, how to make astronomical observations, and how to handle the data collected. Each chose a celestial object to observe with the telescope and gathered research-grade color images that show off the telescope’s capabilities. These images were the first to come out of the telescope in many years.

One student, Pablo Franco Almonte, joked, “I guess it can be said that the topic of our research was out of this world.” Smiling, he continued, “I’m amazed at the opportunities that Penn State can afford its students.”

Because of the success of this project, Penn State Wilkes-Barre students will have the opportunity to participate in more, and more in-depth, astronomical research with faculty on campus. Brandon Andes stated, “It was a pleasure to be a part of this research, and I can envision much more developing out of the use of such equipment.” As a spring-board for additional research, this project demonstrates what can be done by students who have an interest in setting their sights on the night sky.

Top image: The Orion Nebula, as taken from the Friedman Observatory.