Last term I was one of 20 students nationwide, accepted to go on the Elaine P. Snowden Astronomy school with the University of Canterbury.
In the second week of the holidays we arrived at UC and we spent Sunday night at the old University of New Zealand campus using a clockwork telescope worth millions of dollars. On Monday and the first half of Tuesday, we had lectures about extrasolar planets, Neutrinos, star death, cosmology and more. All of which were presented to us by esteemed postdoctoral astronomers and astrophysicists. We also took part in spectroscopy laser labs and toured the University campus. all of which were extremely enjoyable while incredibly fascinating and informative.
We departed to Takapō on Tuesday afternoon and spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights (past midnight) using the telescopes at Mt John observatory observing many different stars, galaxies and nebulae. I specifically used the B&C 0.6 metre telescope to observe the Dark Doodad Nebula. We had a tour of all the telescopes on the mountain and I spoke to the man operating Moa, the largest telescope in New Zealand. He spoke to me about his observations of microlensing events and what all the data collected meant, along with its uses.
Over all, the Astronomy camp was well worth it, not just because it was free! I made many new friends, and even caught up with some who also attended the Otago Advanced School Sciences academy earlier this year too. I learnt an incredible amount about astrophysics, cosmology and the like. Which has encouraged even more to pursue astrophysics in the future.
- Nikau Dymond