Williams College undergraduate students participate in many research projects with their professors, including:
Observing the solar corona
Prof. Jay Pasachoff observes the solar corona at total solar eclipses. The most recent expeditions, with Williams College undergraduates participating, were to Siberia for the August 1, 2008, total solar eclipse; Tianhuangping, China, for the July 22, 2009, total solar eclipse; Easter Island for the July 11, 2010, total solar eclipse; Queensland, Australia, for the November 3, 2013, total solar eclipse; and Lope National Park, Gabon, for the November 13/14, 2013, total solar eclipse. For some of the expeditions, they worked with Williams College’s Dr. Bryce Babcock, bringing electronic cameras purchased for Williams College on a joint set of NASA grants with MIT and a variety of other telescopes and cameras. For the 2012 annular eclipse of May 22 in the western United States and the 2012 total eclipse of November 13/14 in Australia, Pasachoff received a research grant from the Atmospheric Sciences Program of the Solar Terrestrial Division of the National Science Foundation. Pasachoff’s work at the 2013 total solar eclipse in Africa was supported by a grant from the Committee on Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society; a current student and an alumna were part of the scientific team, as was often-Visiting-Professor Marek Demianski. See Eclipses & Transits
Prof. Pasachoff and Dr. Babcock travel the world to observe occultations of stars by Pluto and other objects in the outer solar system. See Occultation Research
Prof. Karen Kwitter studies planetary nebulae, the ejected outer layers of old stars, observing their spectra with ground-based telescopes such as the 3.5-meter ARC reflector in New Mexico, and with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes. See Planetary Nebulae
Dr. Souza studies young, massive stars that exhibit H-alpha as an emission line, rather than in absorption as most stars do. The project monitors variations in H-alpha emission over timescales of days to years to help determine the nature of these peculiar stars.
Prof. Pasachoff works with colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics on x-ray studies with the Chandra X-ray Observatory in space.
The detection of deuterium and the calculation of a D/H ratio are important tools for determining the baryonic density of the Universe. This project catalogues four decades of deuterium-related articles. See Cosmic Deuterium