Overview of Project

In Latin America there is great enthusiasm for astronomy and interest in developing local observatories, but there are few astronomers in some of these countries able to develop new talents. In 2008, members of the Astronomy Institute at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Instituto Nacional de Astronomía, Óptica y Electrónica (INAOE) developed a short course including theoretical lectures with nightly observations for undergraduate students with little knowledge of astronomy. The National Observatory in Tonantzintla hosts the Latin American School of Observational Astronomy to take advantage of its 1m telescope and various smaller telescopes.

This year, during the Tenth Edition of the School, 12 undergraduate students (4 male and 8 female) from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico-Puebla, Mexico-Zacatecas (2), Panama, and Peru (3) were chosen from almost 80 applicants. From Monday to Friday during the three-week course (Jan. 9-29, 2017), they attended two lectures given by professors from the best universities in Mexico and they learned observational techniques during nightly observing sessions under the guidance of professional observers. After learning the basics of how to use the equipment (a 1m telescope with a spectrograph and a camera to do Speckle Interferometry and 3 10” Meade telescopes with CCD cameras), they took part in professional scientific observations, which (as has been the case for the last two years), will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. This year over the 14 nights of active observation, they were able to observe various HADS stars to determine times of maxima, an RR de Lyra star (RR Gem) to determine metal content, a Delta Scuti star (V367 Cam) which is a member of a binary system, and an Ap star (HD 7186601) to determine if it had rapid oscillations. The students also learned how to reduce and interpret their data.