Public Talk: “Chasing Oxygen”, by Dr. Richard Pogge

Not a bad way to spend part of your Thursday evening…..
Ohio State Astronomy & Astrophysics (OSAA) Public Lecture
Chasing Oxygen

Richard W. Pogge

Professor of Astronomy and Vice Chair for Instrumentation

September 14, 2017, OSAA Public Lecture
8-9pm in 1153 Smith Laboratory
174 West 18th Avenue

Information can be found here:


The event is free but registration is requested.

Seven Suggestions for Succeeding in Science in College

Here’s an interesting article published last summer in Forbes magazine on success as a science student.  The first suggestion is ‘go to class’.  Sounds obvious, right, but in my courses I am already seeing a few students who are skipping out some or all of the time.  Though they may surprise me in the end, such students are typically the ones that get grades of C or C- at the end of the semester.  What do you think of these suggestions?

Campus-wide research opportunities

The Ohio State Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry maintains a website listing research opportunities for students.  A good research experience teaches you many skills, and will help you with future opportunities as a graduate student or in the scientific working world.  Many potential research supervisors might be interested in Astronomy or Physics students, even if the subject of the research project is in a different area.  Several of our majors over recent years have undertaken fun and interesting projects in biophysics, medical research, anthropology, or other subjects.  There are other great resources that this office provides – check it out!

Skills for careers

One of the nice things about studying Astrophysics is that, along the way, you have the chance to learn a lot of widely applicable skills:  advanced mathematics, statistics, computer programming, research protocols, and many others.

Here’s an article summarizing a survey of the skills industry hires need. Top on the list were working on a teams and delivering on schedule and on budget. Other commonly indicated skills included networking, leadership, and understanding the business of research.

Do any of your classes emphasize these skills?  For those senior students doing research, are you learning these skills along the way?  What additions to the undergraduate program would help you in this way?

Enjoy the eclipse tomorrow

Trees project images of the sun!

But be careful!

The maximum eclipse occurs at 2:30 p.m. in Columbus, and we will see > 85% of the Sun covered up.  Though not as spectacular as a total eclipse, it’s still quite a sight.  Check out this video of the view you’ll get.

If you don’t have proper eclipse glasses, you can still enjoy the eclipse with low-tech devices.  The easiest way is to walk under trees: the little gaps between the leaves will act as pinhole cameras and project images of the sun.  Don’t look at the Sun between the leaves – look down and you’ll see images of the thin crescent sun.

Comment below with your experiences of the eclipse!  I’d like to hear where you watched it, and how it was for you.

Grad school in Germany

The International Max Planck Research School on Astrophysics (IMPRS)  in Garching/Munich (Bavaria, Germany) is soliciting applications for its PhD program.  You will find more information below, which is the official announcement by Dr. Werner Becker.  There’s also a very cool poster announcing their program, which is available at

Boost your career and do your PhD in one of the largest centers for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Europe! Work with the leading scientists in the field to accelerate your scientific career!!

The International Max Planck Research School on Astrophysics (IMPRS) is soliciting applications for its PhD program. Located in the beautiful Munich-Garching area in southern Bavaria (Germany), the school offers a unique environment for graduate students due to the presence of four internationally renowned institutes which form the school:

* The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE)
* The Observatory of the University of Munich (LMU/USM)
* The Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA)
* The European Southern Observatory (ESO)

IMPRS offers a highly competitive PhD program, including lectures, seminars and a research project supervised by leading scientists at one of the participating institutions. Course language is English. Students have access to the world largest ground- and spaced-based observatories and instrumentation operated by the participating institutes as well as to supercomputers for advanced numerical simulations and theoretical studies.

Applications for the PhD-program are open to students from all countries. Successful applicants will get a work contract/fellowship and we will assist you with all administrative matters. This means “Concentrate on your research — we do the rest!”

For more details see:

The online application portal becomes available about 3 months before the deadline, i.e. beginning of August 2017. If you would like to get a notification as soon as the online portal becomes available, you can send us a short email, and we will put you on our notification list.

The closing date for applications for the program starting in September 2018 is November 15, 2017. If you for any reason have problems keeping the deadline, please inform us ahead and we will extend it upon request.

For questions please contact the IMPRS admission office <office @>.

With best regards,

Prof. Werner Becker

I’m back!

I spent the spring semester on sabbatical, mainly at the Homer L. Dodge Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Oklahoma.

In future posts, I’ll write more about my sabbatical and the research I’ve been doing.  In the meantime, here’s something really amusing:  A scale model of the solar system where the moon is only 1 pixel in diameter, by Josh Worth.

I hope the rest of the summer is a good one, and you show up for the fall semester all relaxed and ready to go.

Summer Undergraduate Research Program

The Department of Astronomy announces its competition for the 2017 Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).

This program offers full-time, paid summer research positions in astrophysics with a faculty member of the Department of Astronomy and/or Physics.

The deadline for applications is Tuesday, February 28.

See the program announcement for full details.