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ASP2021: A Virtual Conference

ASP2021: A Virtual Conference
Preliminary Schedule

Click here for the Schedule-at-a-Glance

    10:50 AM - 11:40 AM: Concurrent Session 6B: 10:50 am PST (1:50 pm EST)
    Robotic Telescope Labs for Survey-Level Undergraduates
    Conference Strand: Teaching Introductory Astronomy – What are We Doing Now?
    Dan Reichart, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Abstract of Session/Presentation: For the past dozen years, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has been developing a unique, survey-level astronomy curriculum, primarily for undergraduate students. Called "Our Place In Space!", or OPIS!, this curriculum leverages "Skynet" - a global network of ≈20 fully automated, or robotic, professional-grade telescopes that we have deployed at some of the world's best observing sites.

    OPIS! has now been adopted by ≈2 dozen institutions, and we have just received (1) $1.85M from NSF's IUSE program to expand it nationwide, and (2) $3M from DoD's NDEP program (a) to integrate a global network of 10m - 30m diameter radio telescopes into Skynet, and (b) to develop a follow-up curriculum called "Astrophotography of the Multi-Wavelength Universe!", or MWU!. Both grants come with funding for new instructors.

    OPIS! is a Skynet-based laboratory curriculum for undergraduates in small to very large, introductory survey courses - and works equally well online as in person. OPIS! consists of eight, and soon nine, labs in which students use the same research instrumentation as professionals to collect their own data. They then use this self-collected data (astronomical images and spectra) to reproduce some of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the past 400 years, and gain technical and research skills at the same time.

    MWU! will be for students who have already completed OPIS!, and will be able to provide this smaller group of students more telescope time per student, making possible color- and radio mapping-, inquiry-based explorations. Astrophotography will serve as this curriculum's "hook".

    In this workshop, participants will be given accounts and observing credits on Skynet. We will learn how to queue observations on Skynet, and will carry out at least one of the OPIS! observing experiences (other OPIS! activities will be overviewed more quickly). We will also explore the color-combination and radio-mapping capabilities that we are developing for MWU!.