With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster 13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.

Ransom K. Ferm

Research Opportunities for Students

Students who have an interest in astronomy are encouraged to take advanced course work in the math and the physical sciences and talk to Dr. John Martin about engaging in a research project. Generally students must demonstrate an academic strength in the physical sciences and a strong interest and commitment in order to participate in a research project at the Barber Research Observatory.

Before joining or initiating a research project students are strongly encourage to enroll in one hour of ASP 410 for a semester to be taken through an astronomy “boot camp.”  ASP 410 is offered on an instructor request and approval basis.  It is not normally listed in the semester course list.  You need to talk to Dr. Martin if you are interested.

In a semester of ASP 410 students become familiar with the research tools available and conduct a small project (that may act as a lead-in to work in future semesters).  Talk to Dr. Martin for more information.

There are astronomy research opportunities for UIS students through several avenues:

Community Involvement

There is a strong tradition of community support for the Barber Research Observatory.  A number of dedicated community volunteers regularly support our observing operations.  If you live in the Springfield community and you have interest in volunteering at the observatory you need to make yourself known and demonstrate your interest and ability.  Not all our volunteers have degrees in math or physics, but all of them have strong analytical skills and are good with learning the use of technology.

To get started you need to demonstrate your interest and ability to Dr. Martin.  Community members are encouraged to take ASP 303 Modern Astronomy (occasionally offered now in the spring semester, especially when people express interest).  The same ASP 410 “boot camp” route is also available.  Contact Dr. Martin if you are interested.

Astronomy Research Students

Explore mentored student research at the UIS Observatory.

  • Kristine Sonnek (Summer 2021)
    • Upgrading the process for PSF building in the Luminous Stars Survey Photometry Pipeline
  • Asung Shin (Summer 2021)
    • Software to process and extract spectra from images for the 10-C spectrograph.
  • Joey Green (Spring/Summer 2021)
    • Curation of photometry and looking for variable stars the Luminous Stars Survey
  • Ian Marvel (Summer 2019)
    • Reduction of images and photometry for the Luminous Stars Survey
  • Logan Kimball (Summer 2015, Summer 2017, Summer 2018, Summer 2019)
    • Cataloging Red Supergiants as part of the M31/M33 Luminous Stars Survey
  • Ben Summers (Spring 2015- Spring 2016)
    • Geometric parallaxes of nearby asteroids (CHE 400 Project)
  • Rob McFarland (Spring 2015-Fall 2015 )
    • Grating Spectroscopy of Long-period Mira Type Variables (CHE 400 Project)
  • Alex Lerch (Summer 2015)
    • Mathematical removal of systematic errors in light curves simultaneously observed by several different telescope systems. (CHE 400 Project)
  • Shelby Jarrett (Spring 2014-Spring 2015)
    • Photometry of T Tauri Stars (ASP 410, Spring 2014)
    • Analysis of spectroscopic trends in Epsilon Aurigae (CHE 400 Project, Fall 2014-Spring 2015)
  • Patrick Rolens (2013-2015)
    • Detecting new variable stars with the 20-inch telescope and U42 CCD Camera
  • Jacob Boehm (Spring 2013)
    • Light curves for eclipsing binaries (ASP 410)
  • Justin Mock (Summer 2012/ Summer & Fall 2013/ Spring 2014) **WINNER CHE Outstanding Research Thesis Award 2014**
    • Supernova Impostors  (CHE 400 project, winner Chemistry Undergraduate Research Award 2014)
  • Douglas Hamilton (Summer, 2012)
    • Kinematics of Eta Carinae’s Equatorial Ejecta (AST internship)
  • Cybil Foster (Spring/Summer 2012)
    • Epsilon Aurigae’s Out-of-Eclipse Spectral Variations (CHE 400 project)
  • Joshua Massey (Summer 2011 / Spring 2012)
    • Wavelength Calibration of Echellette Spectrogra and Spectroscopic Changes during Eps Aur’s 2009-2012 eclipse (CHE 400 project)
  • Cheng Fan (Summer 2011)
    • Wavelength Calibration of Echellette Spectrograph and Doppler Velocitie of Eps Aur (CHE 400 project)
  • Michael Verhulst
    • Advanced Rocket Propulsion
  • Jennifer Hubbell-Thomas
    • Masters in Education through Astronomy, Be-Stars