Late on a clear, moonless night, seniors Valerie Williams’13 and Aron Cowen-Luehrmann’13 can bespotted gazing at the stars with Mr. Weis from Perkin Observatory. Astrophotography has grown in popularity at Dublin School and is now offered as a year long academic project.. Valerie noted, “ I always loved looking at the stars but now we can take it to another level to look at and analyze their images.” Students have access to both a conventional digital camera for near space shots and a deep space CCD camera that can take images of remote galaxies beyond our solar system.
Aron recently met with the e-Dubliner staff to discuss his research in Astrophotography.
Can you tell me a little about why you signed up for the Astrophotography elective?
It’s science and it’s neat. I’m getting to use some amazing equipment that many major universities do not even have. We have a full astronomy observatory with a moving dome and a computerized control for the scope. We have two separate cameras, one of which is a Charge Couple Device, so we can see things that are in invisible wavelengths. I’m learning about what various stellar objects are and how to use new technology.
What are some of your favorite images that you have taken?
My favorite image was of a Ring Nebula, which is just a fairly large cloud of gas. Nebulas are where new stars are born and this one is particularly active. It looks like a ring of color in the sky.
How often does your class meet?
We meet whenever the moon would cooperate with us. When the moon is bright, we do not get decent pictures. A week and a half out of every month is what we have for good shooting. Whenever we have a window of opportunity, we will work in the observatory from 7 pm to 10 pm.
Does the astrophotography class have an end goal for the year?
The big project that we are working on is to capture all the Messier objects. Charles Messier was a French astronomer who was actually looking for comets so he wrote down all of the non-moving objects he found in the sky so he would know not to count them. Turns out, we care more about his list of objects than his comets. We have already captured 20 objects and I think by the end of the year we should be able to have all 110 images. We are off to a great start and having a lot of fun.