Astronomy (Hrivnak)

PRESENTATION: a pdf of a powerpoint presentation describing the research.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: There may be an opportunity for two or three students to work with Prof. Hrivnak this summer (2014) as research assistants. The research involves the observational study of stars at a late stage in their evolution, when they are in transition between the red giant and planetary nebula phases (so-called proto-planetary nebulae). The results of past research show that these stars are varying in light. This summer, the students would continue observations to determine the period and color changes of the variability. This project will require extensive observing with the CCD at our observatory, perhaps some remote observing with the SARA telescope, and data reduction using sophisticated image reduction software on computers in the department.

LOCATION: The work will be performed on the VU campus.

REQUIREMENTS: Students will need to be willing to keep an evening-night schedule much of the time so that they can observe (in pairs) whenever possible. Familiarity with a computer is necessary. Students will learn to use the image reduction program IRAF (Image Reduction and Analysis Facility). Familiarity with the use of the VU telescope and CCD is preferred but not a requirement. Other requirements are a willingness to work hard and carefully and a willingness to learn. Students will be required to write and submit a report at the conclusion of the summer.

DATES & STIPEND: The summer appointment will normally be for 10 weeks, with an anticipated starting date in late May or early June 2014. Slightly different starting dates or work periods may be possible. The salary will be $420 per week, and it is anticipated that a VU award will cover university housing costs. 

APPLICATION & DEADLINE:  Print and fill out the application form.

Interested applicants are encouraged to turn in completed applications as soon as possible. The deadline for completed applications is Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. Evaluation of the applications will take place the end of March and applicants will be notified by late March or early April. Please contact  if you have any questions.