Student Projects in Astronomy With Increasing Levels of Autonomy
13:30 - 13:45
A spectrum of student projects in astronomy, from introductory to advanced, is presented here. First, Exoplanet Watch is a NASA Citizen Science project that has been implemented in high school and university classes. As part of participating in the project, students learn how exoplanet transits are measured, and plug into the active community of astronomers, observers, and educators on the project's Slack channel. Even without a telescope, Exoplanet Watch participants can request datasets from the Harvard-Smithsonian MicroObservatory's robotic telescope network, upload their work to the American Association of Variable Star Observers Exosite, and be credited if their analysis is used in subsequent publications. Students with experience measuring stars as is done for Exoplanet Watch can then undertake double star projects, in which they measure the position angle and separation of a double star and compare this to historical data to assess the likelihood that the pair is binary. To earn a spot for their measurement in the Washington Double Star Catalog, would-be student double star astronomers must experience the academic review process by publishing their work in the Journal of Double Star Observations. Finally, a student-led project analyzing galaxy clusters using graph theory will also be shown as an example of a more self-directed investigation. These three project types are presented, along with some reflections from the author, who was introduced to astronomy through this progression.