Astronomy

High School Students Awarded Telescope Time on Maunakea

February 23, 2019, 8:43 AM HST
* Updated February 23, 8:46 AM
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Senator Nishihara and Senator Kidani help Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope’s Director Doug Simons and Outreach Program Manager Mary Beth Laychak, award prestigious telescope time to Waipahu high school students. Courtesy photo.

Three Hawai‘i high school students have been awarded viewing time at some of the world’s most powerful telescopes on Maunakea as part of the continuing Maunakea Scholars Program.

The announcement marks the opening of the Maunakea Scholars awards period where student projects will be selected from 12 schools across the state.

Maunakea Scholars is designed to immerse local students in the Hawai‘i Island astronomy community by engaging them with local professionals and allowing them viewing time at the Maunakea observatories.

“STEM education opened incredible doors for me, and it is wonderful to offer promising local students opportunities to do precedent-setting research alongside some of the best astronomers in the world, ” said Doug Simons, director of the Canada-France-Hawai’i Telescope (CFHT). “These students will receive mentorship from professional astronomers, gaining priceless career pathways in STEM fields at the global cutting edge, right here in Hawai’i.”

Three Waipahu High School students were selected as the first awardees in the program for the 2018–2019 school year:

  • Danielle Drig – Comparing and Contrasting Population I and II Stars
  • Jean Claude Dumaslan – WNh Stars: Possible Precursor to the Mysterious LBV Stars
  • Jeraldy Cascayan – Asteroids: A Neural Network Approach
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Dumaslan is being awarded viewing time for the second year in a row—only the second time a student has received two observing runs since the program began four years ago.

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Director Doug Simons and Outreach Program Manager Mary Beth Laychak of CFHT recognized the trio at Waipahu High School with friends, family, teachers and elected officials including Sen. Nishihara and Sen. Kidani.

The students’ selection in the program was based on the creativity, scientific value and technical viability of their proposed projects. In preparation, they worked for months alongside mentors from the University of Hawai’i’s Institute for Astronomy to research topics and prepare polished research proposals.

“We are excited to see the Maunakea Scholars program, which grows every year, bring more of Hawai’i’s aspiring young astronomers to the observatory community,” said Mary Beth Laychak, program lead for Maunakea Scholars and outreach program manager at CFHT. “It is an honor to support these students who represent a future generation of scientists who will lead the way to new discoveries about our universe.”

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Maunakea Scholars is an initiative of CFHT in partnership with the Maunakea Observatories, Hawai’i State Department of Education and the University of Hawai’i. The program is the first of its kind in the world.

For more information about the program and astronomy opportunities for students, visit www.maunakeascholars.com.

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