News

Maui Students Use LCO to Perform Cutting-Edge Astronomy

Sep 18, 2020

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Wilson Chau (left) and Holden Suzuki, 8th graders at Maui Waena Intermediate School, used LCO Faulkes Telescope North to spot a 250-pound space satellite projected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere on Aug. 29. Inoperative satellite OGO-1 did in fact break up over uninhabited portions of the South Pacific on Aug. 29. Photo courtesy of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy.

LCO provides resources to education groups around the world. This article is the third in a series that will feature the published work of students doing astronomical research with data obtained from the LCO global network.

Las Cumbres Observatory provides telescope observing time to students in Hawai’i doing research through the UH Institute for Astronomy, under the mentorship of J.D. Armstrong.

Recent astronomical discoveries made by the students using LCO made national news and we are pleased to feature these projects here.

Maui Waena Intermediate students Wilson Chau and Holden Suzuki, mentored by J.D. Armstrong, helped scientists locate a 1,070-pound space satellite that would explode over the South Pacific. On August 26, Chau and Suzuki scrambled to get data from the LCO Faulkes Telescope North on Haleakalā after NASA issued a notification that an object would likely come close to Earth.The inoperative satellite safely disintegrated in the sky halfway between Tahiti and the Cook Islands as it re-entered Earth’s atmosphere on August 29. The discovery made headlines across local and national media outlets, including the TV news broadcast Good Morning America.

The students’ discovery, including a video of the satellite, is featured in a press release from the University of Hawai’i.

In other news, Asteroid 2020 OO1 was discovered in July and follow-up observations were performed by Maui students Esken Guarin, Jed Teagarden, and David Florez. J.D. Armstrong mentored these students, who used observations from the 1-m network and the Faulkes Telescope North of LCO. The students reported their data to the Minor Planet Center and received credit for their observations.

The students and their mentor talk about the value of their work and its impact in this article published by the Maui News.

Las Cumbres Observatory congratulates J.D. Armstrong and his students for their excellent and inspirational work that is vital to the future of astronomy.

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