Institute for Astronomy Home
IFA Home Page   |    Search   |    Other Editions    No. 16 - 2005 
  All Articles  


Deep Impact/Faulkes Telescope Workshop

Students and teachers from Hawaii, Iceland, and the UK participated in the five-day Deep Impact/Faulkes Telescope Workshop.

Nine Hawaii high school students, along with six students from Iceland and one from the United Kingdom, used the Faulkes Telescope North, on the summit of Haleakala, to study Comet Tempel 1 before, during, and after its encounter with the Deep Impact impactor. The students were participants in a five-day workshop organized by the IfA and the UH NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) Lead Team.

Most of the students had previous observing and image-processing experience. The Hawaii students were paired with those from Iceland based on project interest. They controlled the telescope remotely from a computer laboratory at Maui Community College (MCC) and measured the comet for brightness and position. Now that the workshop is over, the students will continue to work with their data to study the structure of the comet's surface and analyze its chemical composition. Some may measure the rate at which the coma (envelope of gas and dust surrounding the comet's nucleus) expanded after impact. The goal for the Hawaii students is to complete comet research projects in time to enter them in the Hawaii State Science Fair in April 2006.

Workshop participants used the Faulkes Telescope on Maui to take the first post-impact images of Deep Impact to be released to the public.

The efforts of many people combined to make this workshop a success. Astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons from the UK guided the students in planning their observations and analysis. Jon Yardley, the student from the UK, demonstrated how to make color images by combining images taken with different filters. John Pye, professor of physical sciences at MCC, assisted with logistics. Sharon Price, a Kalaheo High School teacher, worked with the students to improve their image-processing skills. TOPS teachers Jean Hamai (Kamehameha Schools Maui), Tom Chun (Kamehameha Schools Hawaii), and Sophie Hu (McKinley High School), and two teachers who accompanied the students from Iceland, Asta Thorleifsdottir and Snaevarr Gudmundsson, also participated in the workshop. The TOPS (Toward Other Planetary Systems) program, which ran from 1999 to 2003, taught high school science and math teachers how to incorporate astronomy into their curricula.

Hawaii high school students Clifford Feliciano and Danielle Kuali`i with mentor David Bowdley (seated), who came from the Faulkes Telescope Corporation in England to work on the Deep Impact project.

IfA Astronomy Research and Education Specialist Mary Kadooka organized the workshop. She said, "Using the Faulkes Telescope for the Deep Impact encounter has been so inspiring and motivating for the students."

The workshop was part of an ongoing collaboration between students and teachers in Hawaii and in Iceland that has been conducted over the Internet. The workshop was supported in part by NASA education and public outreach funds channeled through the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs the Hubble Space Telescope, and through UH NAI.

The Faulkes Telescope North and its sister telescope in Australia are the largest telescopes in the world dedicated to education and public outreach.

For the latest Faulkes Telescope Deep Impact data, go to