Launching Cosmic Ambitions of Young Researchers at Moletai Astronomical Observatory


This press release by students at the Europlanet 2017 Summer School, Andrius Zigmantas and Saulius Lovčikas, was published on the Lithuanian news site,

Can small ground-based telescopes be useful for space missions? Participants attending the “Space missions: ground-based observations and science communication” summer school at the Vilnius University Molėtai Astronomical Observatory have been answering this question.

From July 18 to 28, 2017, not only professional astronomers but also amateurs were invited to attend the research school. The aim of the school was to provide participants with information on the coordination of space missions and ground-based observations, as well as to expand students’ understanding of the outreach of science knowledge.

Using the Molėtai Astronomical Observatory’s telescopes, the participants analysed the chemical composition of stars using spectroscopic observations and learned to detect the variability of stars using photometric observations. These type of observations are used in support of international space missions to study exoplanets, such as TESS, CHEOPS and PLATO.
Professional lecturers from the European astronomical consortium “Europlanet 2020 – Research Infrastructure” trained participants to present scientific information to the public in an attractive way and conducted practical workshops.
Skills for practical observations and processing of data were taught by scientists from the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astronomy of Vilnius University.

Activities of professional astronomers and amateurs were combined in order to achieve more mutual understanding. The level of the school was orientated to PhD students and early career scientists, however amateur astronomers were provided with additional scientific support during lectures and observations.

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