MDSGC Students at 231st AAS Meeting

MDSGC proudly supported presentations by several students at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), held January 8-12, 2018, in Washington, DC.

Towson Professor James Overduin with students at 231st AAS meeting.

The poster topics included using the 2017 total solar eclipse to repeat Arthur Eddington’s 1919 test of General Relativity; using Towson University’s telescope to study the resolution of Olbers’ Paradox; and using the asteroid Psyche to test the Equivalence Principle. What the projects have in common is their connection to astronomical observations and fundamental physics, a strong emphasis on hands-on student research, and their supervisor: Towson University Professor James Overduin. The three posters presented at the AAS meeting represent collaborations among Towson faculty and students and several local high school students.

The solar eclipse poster generated considerable discussion that kept its authors Keri McClelland and Kelsey Glazer busy answering questions. Professor Overduin explained its popularity: “It seems that we are one of only two or three teams who have tried to do this (replicate Eddington’s test with the 2017 eclipse) and that only one other has been able to do more than us.”

MDSGC congratulates the Towson team on their accomplishments and wishes them success in their future projects! The three student posters are reproduced below.

Poster on students repeating Eddington's test of General Relativity using 2017 solar eclipse.

Olbers paradox poster from 231st AAS meeting.

Psyche poster from 231st AAS meeting.

RockOn Workshop – June 2018

Screen shot of RockOn 2018 announcement pageRockOn, a workshop at Wallops Island for sounding rocket payload design, is an exciting chance for teams of students to kickstart payload projects at their home institutions. Participants in the workshop will build a working scientific payload and then see it launch on a real sounding rocket!

RockOn is hosted by CO and VA Space Grants; MDSGC strongly encourages Maryland teams or individuals to apply for support to participate. The 2018 workshop dates are June 16-22, 2018. Discounted early registration is available until March 23. Registration officially closes on May 2, but as of January 30, 2018, all slots are filled.

Maryland teams or individuals planning to attend this year or interested for a future year should contact Matt Collinge for details.

APL Internship Applications Open

The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) is accepting applications for summer 2018 internships. Opportunities are available to U.S. Citizens in good academic standing at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, through a variety of programs, including specific opportunities for students from JHU and minority serving institutions. Visit the APL Internships page for more information. Application deadlines vary by program; the earliest is December 31, 2017 and the latest is March 31, 2018.

STEM Extravaganza at Morgan State

The Baltimore MUREP Aerospace Academy (formerly SEMAA) held its yearly STEM Extravaganza on Saturday, September 9th, at Morgan State University.

Photo of MDSGC booth at Baltimore MUREP STEM Extravaganza 2017.

MDSGC was represented by a contingent from Johns Hopkins, along with our partners from Space Telescope Science Institute. Thanks to all our young STEM enthusiasts and parents who stopped by to pay us a visit and learn about scientific ballooning! We hope to see you again soon at one of our upcoming Observatory Open Houses.

August 21st Solar Eclipse

NASA image of partial solar eclipseOn August 21st, 2017, the Moon passed in front of the Sun as seen from much of North America, in an event that was hailed as a Great American Eclipse. (Another contender for that title will occur on April 8, 2024, in case you missed this one!) While a total eclipse was visible from within a narrow band stretching from Oregon to South Carolina, Maryland experienced a partial solar eclipse. In Maryland, approximately 80% of the solar surface was obstructed at the maximum, which occurred at approximately 2:43 pm local time. For any partial solar eclipse, please note: It is not safe to observe a partial solar eclipse without special equipment and/or eye protection — regular sunglasses are not okay!

For information about viewing a solar eclipse safely, please visit NASA’s Eclipse 101 Safety. Key takeaway: if you are trying to observe a partial eclipse, you need special eclipse glasses from a reputable manufacturer. Here is a rundown of information from the American Astronomical Society on solar filters and viewers and how to make sure you get something that is safe to use.

NASA graphic on safely observing phases of a solar eclipse

Baltimore residents had a chance to view the eclipse on “The Beach” at JHU’s Homewood Campus. Here is a news item about that event:

For more information about the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse, visit NASA’s Eclipse2017.

To all eclipse watchers, we wish you clear skies!

Student Research Symposium

Group photo of 2017 summer interns on MDSGC-related projects.Some of Maryland’s bright rising stars in space science and engineering showcased their work at the Student Research Symposium on July 24, 2017. Held on the leafy grounds of the Johns Hopkins Mt. Washington Conference Center, the symposium was a partnership between Maryland Space Grant Consortium and Morgan State University’s School of Engineering. The day was filled with talks from students participating in MDSGC internships across the state and posters presented by undergraduate and graduate research students at Morgan State.

The interns told stories of their challenges and successes in their projects that took place at institutions including University of Maryland Baltimore County, Capitol Technology University, and the US Naval Academy, as well as Morgan State, Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland College Park, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Their internships covered a wide variety of STEM focuses, ranging from astrophysics to computer science to chemical engineering.

The symposium was capped with a luncheon where prizes were awarded for the best oral and poster presentation. Chukwuma Odigwe was awarded the best oral presentation for his talk “CACTUS-1 CubeSat”, while Andre Nottingham II took home the prize for the best poster for his presentation on the Cosmology Large Angular Scale Surveyor. MDSGC congratulates all participants on a successful summer and looks forward to more of their successes in the future!

JHU Annual Physics Fair

The JHUVisitors to JHU's 2017 Annual Physics Fair listen to an explanation from a JHU Physics graduate student. Photo credit: Jon Schroeder. Annual Physics Fair, sponsored in part by MDSGC, was held on Saturday, April 29, 2017. This event brought hundreds of visitors, primarily families with school age children, to JHU’s Physics and Astronomy Department for a day of physics and science fun, replete with hands-on demonstrations, craft activities, contests, tours, and live science shows from a Professor Extraordinaire!

MDSGC would like to congratulate our balloon lift prediction contest winners: “The Prince brothers” and Pavin. Both groups correctly estimated the lift of our 3-foot helium balloon within the margin of measurement error. Thanks to all our visitors and contestants, and we look forward to seeing you again at next year’s Fair.

For those attendees who just can’t get enough science fun, visit the department’s Physics Fair Links Roundup, a stockpile of related material heavy on hand-selected Youtube videos of crazy physics in action.