On the moderately cold, crisp night of June 28th the Department of Physics hosted OSU’s First Astronomy Open House. The event, set up by graduate students Tyler Parsotan and Atul Chhotray, gave over a hundred children and adults alike an opportunity to experience physics and astronomy.
Attendees were able to experience what happens to a star when it spins up, how astronomers identify what a star is made of, how telescopes work, and how the solar system is scaled. Additionally, people were able to see, through the Department’s telescopes, into the dark night sky, planets and their companions such as Jupiter and its moons, Saturn and its rings, and Mars. Tom Carrico, a renowned astrophotographer, showed attendees deep sky objects such as the great American Nebula using long exposures with his tracking telescope camera. Along with the wonder and awe that one gets from seeing these beautiful celestial objects, attendees also got a free NASA Tourism Poster for them to remember the event.
There were beautiful 3D posters of the surface of Mars that encompassed a near real experience of being on the surface of mars, and the other “2D” posters decorated the walls of Weniger Hall in a mosaic of celestial beauty.
With the success of this first event of its kind at OSU, harboring at least 120 attendees, Tyler and Atul will be having another event, so stay tuned to when the next Astronomy Open House is!
Congratulations to a physics major Alexander Quinn who received an Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship and Creativity (URISC) Award for Fall/Winter 2016-2017 sponsored by the OSU Research Office. Alex (pictured while performing experiments) will work with Prof. Oksana Ostroverkhova on a project titled “Investigating Xylindein, a Fungus-Derived Pigment, as a Candidate for use in Sustainable Optoelectronic Devices”. Alex is planning to graduate in the Spring of 2017 and continue his education as a graduate student in physics. His longer-term plan is to work in the area of sustainable materials and renewable energy.
After graduating from OSU (where he earned 3 BS degrees in Physics, Math, and Computational Physics), Scott went on to a Ph.D. in Mathematics at Cornell, worked for Yelp, and then started his own company called SigOpt.
Scientists from the Physics Department visited the first grade classes (about 100 students) at Clover Ridge Elementary School. Atul Chhotray and Davide Lazzati used solar telescopes to give students an introduction to astronomy. Nicole Quist, Jacob Bigelow and Ethan Minot used an assortment of interactive demos to explain the amazing things we can do with air. From pushing a sail boat with giant air molecules, to floating on a hover craft. Nicole: “Raise your hands if you want to say something.” Student: “That was awesome!”
Hiral Patel and Kyle Vogt are Physics Ph.D. students in the Graham Lab. Both contributed to a major conference called CLEO in San Jose (4,600 attendees) that is sponsored by APS, OSA and IEEE. Kyle presented his paper as a talk. Hiral’s poster received the highest traffic and the most votes, and the Optical Society of America awarded her the “Outstanding Student Poster Presentation Award” from the OSA Optical Material Studies Technical Group.