This year’s STARFEST held at the University of Nevada, Reno was packed with student presentations and information! We had 20 participants in person with another 15 participating remotely. Dr. Katherine McCall, Dean of the College of Science at UNR and Dr. Paul Neill, Chair of the Physics Department at UNR welcomed the group and expressed their enthusiasm for being part of the Great Basin Observatory Collaborative.

Morning presentations included:

  • Alexis Tudor – last year’s GBO scholarship awardee presented her Masters research project on Photometry+, a program designed specifically for GBO data reductions. Alexis presented via zoom from Texas where she is currently residing after graduating Spring 2021.
  • Ava Covington – Ava is a sophomore majoring in physics at UNR, she presented research she has been doing with Dr. Aarran Shaw monitoring Magnetic Cataclysmic Variable systems. Ava has a submitted research paper that will be published soon, and was this year's GBO Scholarship recipient.
  • Andrew Sundquist – Andrew is doing his Senior Thesis project for his astronomy minor re-writing and adding to existing undergraduate astronomy lab exercises using GBO data and observations. Andrew will graduate with his physics BS and astronomy minor December 2021.
  • KC Rodrigue – KC gave an overview of his role as the astronomy TA for the physics department at UNR including facilitating GBO observations, monitoring the health of the telescope as well as ensuring calibration observations are available for all users.
  • Cole Niebuhr – Cole and the Concordia group successfully installed our new spectrograph over the weekend of October 22/23! Cole gave us an update on the installation process and on the spectrograph itself as well as an update on recent observations made by the meteor camera.

The afternoon session was led by the Southern Utah University group via zoom from SUU:

  • Harry Torgerson – Harry presented on the double star research program for high school students he has been creating with Dr. Pace. He talked about the integration of the step by step process into the GOORU platform and how this online module will make this opportunity accessible to more high school students and teachers.
  • SUCCESS (Southern Utah Center for Computer, Engineering and Science Students) Academy students presented on their completed double star research that recently got published in the Journal of Double Star Observations.
  • High School students from South Sevier and Launch (both in Utah) toured the SUU physics lab with Dr. Cameron Pace and asked questions about using the GBO for research. These students have just begun their GBO double star research projects.

STARFEST ended with a tour of the Fleischmann Planetarium and the opportunity to watch the newly filmed "Great Basin Observatory- Exploring the Universe" short film.

Photo: A picture of the team that installed the new high-resolution spectrograph at the Great Basin Observatory.