HI STAR Student Program in Maui Excels in Research

Feb 16, 2021

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Students participating in the 2020 HI STAR program, through a Zoom meeting. Photo credit: Carolyn Kaichi.

Las Cumbres Observatory provides telescope observing time and financial support to students in Hawai’i doing research in the HI STAR program through the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. The program is under the direction of Carolyn Kaichi, Jenny Shin, and J.D. Armstrong, who is an alumnus of LCO.

In spite of the pandemic, Dr. Armstrong and his team were able to run the HI STAR program this year, interacting through online Zoom meetings. An advantage to holding the program online was that researchers from around the world were able to give instruction in their areas of expertise. The scientists included Dr. Marco Micheli from Italy, Dr. Ben Shappee, Dr. Jen Van Saders, Dr. Eric Gaidos, Jenny Shih, and Dr. Sushant Mahajan. While the group missed meeting together, the program was a great success.

One parent wrote that she was very happy that the program was not canceled because her son thrives when working in astronomy. A student commented "I liked HI STAR this year. It was interesting because it was online and it was super fun."

Dr. Armstrong believes that the research the students completed at the program set a new high water mark for the program.

The final presentations of the students can be viewed here on YouTube.

Since the end of the session, several of the students have been in the press:

Esken Guarin, Jed "Orion" Teagarden, and Maui student David Flores used the Faulkes Telescope North to watch an asteroid which was discovered by the PanSTARRS observatory make a fly-by of the earth. Esken and Orion have both received high honors at the science fairs. You can read more about their work here.

Holden Suzuki and Wilson Chau successfully observed the OGO-1 satellite prior to its re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. Their observations (along with others) helped predict the location where the satellite would land. In addition to the story here, the two were in several articles and even a few TV appearances. Two years ago the pair received high honors at the science fair for the observations and analysis of the SpaceX Tesla Roadster launched into orbit around the sun.

Las Cumbres Observatory sends congratulations to all of the outstanding HI STAR students!

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