Below is the program for our 2017 Summer Undergraduate Astronomy Institute, which runs from June 20-21 at Caltech and Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena. We will convene for two days at Caltech, with a dinner at the Caltech Atheneum on June 21, and an excursion to the Mt. Wilson Observatory for an evening viewing session with the historic Mount Wilson 100″ telescope on June 22. A new feature this year is a day at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena on June 22, where we will have a tour of the historic facilities which were the home to Edwin Hubble and George Ellery Hale, as well as a workshop on Python and Image Processing.  An additional evening at Palomar Observatory on June 27 will feature observations with the 200″ telescope and tours of the entire site and the 48″ and 60″ telescopes.

Day 1 – Tuesday, June 20, 2017 – Caltech Orientation and Talks 

Day 1 features a round-up of talks from the research mentors and leads in the ZTF project. The goal is to give you a sense of the astrophysical and technical context of your projects. Scientific talks will highlight some of the recent research results from the Caltech investigators, and how the your summer project will contribute to the research. From this day you will learn about not only their own projects, but will gain awareness of the larger community of investigators at Caltech and the scientific and technical projects of your fellow students.

Schedule for Day 1

9:30-10:00 – Coffee and Pastry Reception (meet at the Cahill Astronomy building, Hameetman Auditorium lobby) 
10:00-12:00 – Science talks by ZTF postdoctoral and graduate scholars.

Tuesday 20th




Shri Kulkarni, Director, Caltech Optical Observatories, and ZTF PI

Opening Words of Wisdom –


Thomas Kupfer

Low Mass Binary Stars


Astrid Lamberts

A stellar tango with massive binaries


Jacob Jencson

 Search for Infrared Transients with Spitzer   –  SPIRITS_ZTFsummerschool_2017


Chris Cannell

Coherent Classification – Building Logical Tools, Classifications and Theories


Ashish Mahabal                               Surveys, Cadence, Features    Mahabal_ZTFSS_20170620

12:15-1:30 PM lunch with Caltech research scientists, postdocs and grad students

1:30-2:30 PM – Hands-on Python workshop – basics of Python analysis (NOTE: be sure to have the Anaconda Python distribution pre-installed on your machine. Staff will be available after lunch to help with this).

Day 2 – Wednesday, June 21, 2017 – Caltech Lab Tours and Technology 

Day 2 features a set of lab tours and discussions of the technical background within the ZTF projects. It also features additional talks by Caltech and JPL researchers, who are doing cutting-edge instrument development and satellite development in astrophysics. A lab tour of the Caltech instrument labs by chief instrument scientist Roger Smith will give a hands-on introduction to advanced astronomical instrumentation. And a hands-on workshop on the stellar astrophysics package MESA will round off the day.

Schedule for Day 2

9:00-10:00 – Science talks by ZTF postdoctoral and graduate scholars.


Ryan Lau

Unravelling Dusty Pinwheel Nebulae around Wolf-Rayet Binaries


Tiara Hung

Finding Supermassive Black Holes with Tidal Disruption Events   ztf_2017Jun_Hung


Dave Cook

Census of the Local Universe (CLU) – Nearby Galaxy Survey – PTFHalpha_DaveCook_slides 

10:00-11:00   Talk by Dr. Jason Rhodes – JPL NASA Project Scientist – WFIRST and Euclid Missions. Gravitational Microlensing, Dark Energy and new NASA Space missions – Rhodes_ZTF-SS_2017
11:00-12:15   Caltech Instrument Lab Tours – with Roger Smith. Will explore some of the advanced instrument labs at Caltech, where components of the ZTF instrument is being built.
12:15-1:30 lunch with Caltech research scientists, postdocs and grad students
1:30PM        (Caltech SURF students have safety meeting)

2:30-4:30PM PM – MESA Workshop with Bill Wolf, USCB postdoctoral scientist (NOTE: be sure to have the requisite software pre-loaded on your machines. Staff will be available after lunch to help with this).

Evening June 21 – 6:30 PM – Caltech Atheneum Banquet with Sam Waldman from SpaceX. Sam Waldman is a former LIGO astrophysics researcher from MIT who know heads the sensors division at SpaceX. He will talk about the current developments in new space and some of the spectacular technologies at SpaceX. It should be a spectacular event!

Day 3 – Thursday, June 22, 2017 – Carnegie Observatory and Mt. Wilson Viewing

An exploration of the Historic Carnegie Observatories. Meet at the Caltech Astronomy Building at 9:30AM and return about 4:30 PM.  We will reconvene at Caltech at 7:30PM to load cars and vans for our Mt. Wilson trip. The approximate schedule is below.

9:40 – 10:00 Introductions, Current Science at Carnegie

10-10:30 Tour including Machine Shop, Instrument Lab, GMT 

10:30-11:00 History of Mount Wilson, Carnegie, and Caltech Astronomy

11:00 – 12:30 Plate Archive, Historical machines, and plates

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – ~5 – Python Visualization Workshop

7:20PM – Evening Program – Viewing with Mt. Wilson 100″ telescope!  Meet at Astronomy Building at 7:20 PM. Cars will depart from Cahill at 7:30, to arrive to Mt. Wilson by 8:30PM, where we will be met by our guide. Will return to Pasadena approximately at 12:30 or 1:00AM. 

Day 4 – Tuesday – June 27 – Palomar Observing at the 200″ telescope

Meet at Caltech at 12:30AM;  will pick up people at Pomona around 1:00 PM, to arrive at Palomar by 3:00 PM. Tour of PTF telescopes + initial day tour of 200”. Dinner then observing at 200”. Students will also give short (5 minute) talks about their research projects during the evening). Some students will be able to stay at the “Monastery” overnight, but there will be an option for those who would like to return on the evening of June 27 – exact details are still being worked out.