Faculty included Jay M. Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor and Chair; Marek Demianski, Visiting Professor of Astronomy; and Steven Souza, Instructor in Astronomy and Observatory Supervisor. Karen B. Kwitter, Ebenezer Fitch Professor of Astronomy, was on sabbatical leave though resident in Williamstown.
The Department graduated four astrophysics majors in June 2005: Ryan Carollo ’05, Zophia Edwards ’05, Kamen Kozarev ’05, and Terry-Ann Suer ’05. Kamen was elected to Sigma Xi and graduated with honors in Astrophysics. Senior astronomy majors are Alan Cordova ’06 and Yariv Pierce ’06 and senior astrophysics majors are David Butts ’06, Joseph Gangestad ‘06, and Owen Westbrook ’06. Suranjit Tilakawardane and Megan Bruck enrolled as astronomy and astrophysics majors, respectively, in the class of 2007.

The total solar eclipse of April 8, 2005, from a ship in mid-Pacific Ocean 1000 km west of the Galápagos. (photo by Jay Pasachoff and Dava Sobel)
Demianski taught a seminar in relativistic astrophysics, including black holes and cosmology, and a sophomore course in compact stellar objects, including pulsars and black holes. Pasachoff taught a seminar, for the second time, on science and pseudoscience, framed around C. P. Snow’s concept of the “two cultures.” Faculty guest seminar leaders included professors William Lenhart (Computer Science) on the visual display of information, Richard De Veaux (Mathematical and Statistical Sciences) on use and misuse of statistics, Steven Gerrard (Philosophy) on alternative medicine, Norman J. Levitt (Mathematics, Rutgers University) on the Sokal hoax, Stuart J. B. Crampton (Physics, emeritus) on science and religion, and Lois Banta (Biology) on GM foods. Regular courses included the survey on stars and stellar evolution in the fall, the survey of galaxies and cosmology in the spring, and introductory astrophysics in the fall.
Pasachoff continued his studies of the solar chromosphere. Using a Guest Investigator grant from NASA, Pasachoff and his students reduced the data about the chromosphere at high resolution taken on an observing run with the Swedish Solar Telescope on La Palma in conjunction with NASA’s Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) spacecraft. David Butts ’06 and Kamen Kozarev ’05 worked on the data during the summer of 2004, and Kozarev continued on the project for his senior thesis. The group presented a paper in a symposium on the chromosphere held at the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomical Society in May 2005 in New Orleans. The paper was in conjunction with Bart De Pontieu of Lockheed Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, who had participated in the observing run, with Leon Golub and Ed DeLuca of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who built the telescope for the TRACE spacecraft, and with Kurt Wilhelm and Ingolf Dammasch, who are working on additional simultaneous data with the SUMER instrument on the European Space Agency’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). Owen Westbrook ’06 will participate on the project during the summer of 2005 and for his senior thesis, including a further observing run at La Palma in August 2005. He received a fellowship from NASA through the Massachusetts Space Grant.
Pasachoff continued his studies of solar eclipses. He observed a partial solar eclipse from Hawaii in October. Joined by Shelby Kimmel ’08, he observed the total solar eclipse of 8 April 2005 from the ship Galápagos Legend 1000 miles west of the Galápagos Islands. Images from eclipse observations appear at <www.williams.edu/astronomy/eclipse>.
Pasachoff is continuing planning for a major expedition to observe the total solar eclipse of 29 March 2006, in collaboration with Bryce Babcock, Coordinator of Science Facilities and Staff Physicist, and Souza. Several students will participate on site in Kastellorizo, Greece.
Pasachoff continues his work on the atmospheres of Pluto, its moon Charon, and other objects in the outer solar system. His local collaborators are again Babcock and Souza. The project is a joint collaboration with James Elliot, Amanda Gulbis, and Michael Person of MIT. Together, the scientists had received a NASA equipment grant to purchase four new electronic cameras capable of high sensitivity, rapid cadence, and minimal dead time between exposures, leading eventually to the choice of Andor CCD cameras, two for MIT and two for Williams. In the course of the year, Pasachoff received a NASA Planetary Astronomy research grant to cover other aspects of the project, including foreign and domestic travel. Joined by Joseph Gangestad ’06, who will write his senior thesis on the topic, Pasachoff, Babcock, and Souza observed an occultation of a star by Charon from telescopes in Chile and Brazil for 10/11 July 2005.
Pasachoff has been participating in studies of the double star cluster h and chi Persei, tracing back to optical observations made by Christina Reynolds ’97 and Rebecca Cover ’00, related to x-ray observations. In this collaboration with Nancy Evans, Scott Wolk, Fred Seward, and others at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, observations of the cluster were obtained at two pointings with the Chandra X-ray Observatory in November 2004. Megan Bruck ’06 is working on the data during the summer of 2005, spending time in both Cambridge and in Williamstown.
Zophia Edwards ’05 worked with Pasachoff on compositing images of the 2002 and 2005 total solar eclipses. Jennifer Yee, a Keck Summer Fellow from Swarthmore, and Anna Tsykalova ’08, are working further with these data.
Pasachoff continues work on the observations of the 8 June 2004 transit of Venus, the first to occur since the year 1882. In collaboration with Glenn Schneider of the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona and Richard Willson of Columbia University, he used observations from NASA’s ACRIMSAT with its monitor of the total solar irradiance to observe the drop of 0.1% in the solar constant because of the transit, a close-to-Earth analogue of the transits by extrasolar planets of their parent stars that are increasingly observed. Terry-Ann Suer ’05 and Alan Cordova ’06 worked on images of the transit taken by Butts, Gangestad, and Westbrook at the observing site in Thessaloniki, Greece. Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Summer Fellow Kayla Gaydosh from Bryn Mawr College participated in the expedition and in the summer’s research.
Suer worked with Pasachoff and T. Chandrasekhar of the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad, India, on Fabry-Perot high-resolution observations of a solar eclipse. She used the computer system IDL to produce over 500 scans at different angles of an eclipse image, which is being analyzed to reveal coronal velocities. Suer worked with Pasachoff on historical studies of the origin and diffusion of the K-line notation in 19th-century astronomical spectroscopy.
Pasachoff continued to work with Donald Lubowich of Hofstra University on a variety of projects dealing with cosmic deuterium and its use for cosmological studies. They had observing time during the year with a Steward Observatory 12-m radio telescope on Kitt Peak and with the 330-m radio telescope at Arecibo, the latter as tests for subsequent longer observations at the fundamental spin-flip line of deuterium. Suer assembled a Web page linking most previous fundamental articles in the field; it is on a Williams College server and is accessible at <www.cosmicdeuterium.info/>.
Pasachoff continues his collaboration with Roberta J. M. Olson of the New-York Historical Society on issues on the overlap between art and astronomy, concentrating on images of comets and of eclipses. He began the revision of his text The Cosmos: Astronomy in the New Millennium, working with Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley, to prepare the third edition (Brooks/Cole Publishing Company, <info.brookscole.com/pasachoff>).
After 42 years of service from an old Spitz planetarium projector, the Milham Planetarium of the Hopkins Observatory, of which Pasachoff is Director, was able to install a new Zeiss Skymaster ZKP3/B opto-mechanical planetarium projector. The old projector was removed in late March by Steven Pielock of Old Deerfield, Massachusetts, and the new projector was installed over a two-week period in April by Gerhard Plötner of Zeiss, Jena, Germany. The projector includes many improved features, including gearing and projection of planetary positions, projection of constellation outlines, and smooth, reliable operation with images of several thousand stars, the coolest ones shown by their reddish color. The planetarium was made possible by the Class of 1958 President’s Fund for Faculty Development, arranged with the support of President Morton Owen Schapiro, Provost Catharine Hill, Acting Dean of Faculty William Lenhart, and others of the Senior Staff.
The planetarium was demonstrated to students in ASTR 104 and ASTR 336 at the end of the semester, and it had its formal opening in a demonstration to alumni on June 9 during the reunion week, and to alumni children and others on June 11. David Ticehurst ’04 has been joined by all the summer students to learn how to use the planetarium and to give shows during the summer of 2005, with a legacy of separate shows for later use with audiences of different age distributions. An Ansible digital planetarium, projecting a variety of astronomical images horizontally into a 4-foot dome, has been under development as part of the planetarium project, and is being installed.
During the year, the Hopkins Observatory presented planetarium shows on Friday evenings entitled “Transits of Venus: So Rare, So Wonderful.” Shows were designed and given by students Ryan Carollo ’05, Megan Bruck ’07, Yariv Pierce ’07, and Matthew Summers ’07 with Pasachoff.
With the recognition of this public outreach, Pasachoff received a grant for Education and Public Outreach from NASA to hold a yearly series of three teachers’ workshop for public-school teachers from Williamstown and Pittsfield. In collaboration with Shawn Burdick of Mt. Greylock Regional High School, Mary Kavanaugh and Jennifer Swoap of the Williamstown Elementary School, and Patrick Markham of the Pittsfield Public Schools, the workshops are to take place during each winter for approximately a dozen teachers. A theme will be the outer planets, given the NASA grants grounding in Pasachoff’s research grant from NASA for studies of Pluto and other objects in the outer solar system.
Pasachoff continues as Chair of the Working Group on Solar Eclipses of the International Astronomical Union. As such, he participated in the proposing of symposia for the year 2006, and he is on the Scientific Organizing Committee for the selected proposal on the role of magnetic fields in the corona, to be held in Cairo the first week in April 2006. The Working Group’s Web page is at <www.totalsolareclipse.net/>.
Pasachoff continues as President of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission on Education and Development. He is on the Scientific Organizing Committee and participated in the proposals for two Special Sessions on education, in collaboration with Rosa Ros of Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya in Barcelona, and astronomy in developing countries, in collaboration with John Hearnshaw of Canterbury University in New Zealand, respectively, during the IAU’s General Assembly to be held in Prague, Czech Republic, during August 14-25, 2006. He arranged for the Commission’s Web page, based with B. W. Jones and T. J. Moore of the Open University, Milton Keynes, U.K., to be available through <www.astronomyeducation.org/>. Pasachoff is also United States National Liaison to the Commission. During this year, Pasachoff worked on the manuscript for which he is co-author with John Percy of the University of Toronto of a book derived from the proceedings of a Special Session held at the 2003 Sydney, Australia, IAU General Assembly. Entitled “Astronomy Teaching and Learning: Effective Strategies for Educators Worldwide,” it is to be published by Cambridge University Press.
Pasachoff continues as astronomy consultant for the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology and its yearbooks. He also continues on the Physical Science Board of World Book. He is on the Council of Advisors of the Astronomy Education Review electronic journal. See <aer.noao.edu/>. Pasachoff continues as science book reviewer for The Key Reporter, the Phi Beta Kappa newsletter. He continues as advisor to the children’s magazine Odyssey.
Kwitter, Pasachoff, and Souza attended the Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Student Symposium at Colgate University in October 2004. Williams had hosted the KNAC faculty meeting the previous summer.
Kwitter was on leave in residence in 2004-2005. She spent time learning about the capabilities and discoveries of the Spitzer Space Telescope infrared observatory, attending The Spitzer Space Telescope: New Views of the Cosmos meeting at Caltech in November 2004. She reviewed papers for several astronomy journals, and continued as a member of the Space Sciences Panel of the National Research Council’s associateship review program which vets post-doctoral applications at national research centers. In May, Kwitter was re-elected to a second three-year term on the Observatories Council of AURA, Inc., the organization that oversees the national observatories for the NSF.
During the summer of 2004, Joseph Gangestad ’06 worked with Kwitter on assembling spectroscopic data for use in her Hubble Space Telescope project with collaborators Dick Henry (Oklahoma) and Reggie Dufour (Rice) to understand carbon abundances in planetary nebulae. They are analyzing emission from doubly-ionized carbon that occurs in the ultraviolet, and trying to correlate it with emission from doubly-ionized oxygen, easily seen in the visible spectrum. If successful, oxygen emission may be able to serve as a reliable indicator of carbon emission. In October 2004, Kwitter hosted a mini-workshop in Williamstown for Henry and Dufour to work on the analysis of the Hubble data and to plan for publication and a follow-up proposal.
In the summer of 2005, Jesse Levitt ’08 and Matthew Johnson (Wesleyan ’06) Keck Summer fellow, worked with Kwitter to study abundances in a set of planetary nebulae that come from more massive progenitor stars. In particular, they will be looking for enhancements in the nitrogen and helium abundances and depressions in the oxygen abundance as indications of the nuclear processing that occurs in these stars. These students also worked on updating and adding to Kwitter and Henry’s web page of planetary nebula spectra (http://oit.williams.edu/nebulae/).
Kwitter also worked on revamping her course Between the Stars: The Interstellar Medium (ASTR 402), incorporating the newly available infrared, x-ray and ultraviolet as well as optical archives from space missions and massive ground-based surveys.
Souza conducts the department’s observing program, offering nighttime and solar observing experiences for introductory and advanced students. He supervises 8 to 10 observing TAs, and trains them in the use of the observatory facilities. Once again, he hosted numerous visiting individuals and groups, including planetarium groups, alumni, visiting classes from local schools, Family Weekend attendees, student previews and prospective students, and visitors for the lunar eclipse of October 2004. Souza continues to maintain and improve the observatory’s instrumentation and facilities. He acts as liaison between the department and B&G on physical plant issues, including campus lighting.
Souza teaches all laboratory sections in introductory courses, and conducts all daytime observing. He continues the process of revising or replacing laboratory exercises using new software and other resources. In January 2005, he served as unofficial advisor to a group of students undertaking a WSP 99 on “applied aerodynamics” (building and flying a radio controlled model airplane).
In 2004-2005, Souza participated in several observations and astronomical events. He traveled to Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona in August 2004 to work with Kwitter and Dr. R. Henry (Univ. of Oklahoma) on spectroscopy of planetary nebulae. He prepared the Williams College imaging experiment, designed to complement observations made by the SOHO spacecraft, for the April 2005 eclipse viewed by Pasachoff and first-year student Shelby Kimmel from a ship in the Pacific Ocean.
In a far-greater-than-expected undertaking, Souza, Babcock, and Pasachoff worked with the MIT occultation team headed by Dr. James Elliot to choose the best possible camera system for purchase under a NASA occultation equipment grant. As a result, we acquired two state-of-the-art astronomical cameras, along with computers and ancillary equipment, that were used for observations in Chile and Brazil of the occultation of a 15th magnitude star by Pluto’s satellite Charon in July 2005.
Souza continues to develop the departmental computing environment, using Mac OS X for Mac and UNIX applications. He set up a server to provide common user authentication and data storage (with backup) for Mac OS/UNIX machines hosting IRAF and IDL. In particular, he set up computing environments for students working on data from spacecraft and ground-based observatories for various projects of Pasachoff. He acts as liaison with OIT, and represents astronomy in thrice-yearly “Sci-Tech” meetings. He has begun the long process of reorganizing the Astronomy Department website.
[Colloquia are held jointly with Physics. See Physics section for additional listings.]
Dr. Arthur Cole, Michigan State University, National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab, Class of 1960 Scholars Program
“The Search for Supernova Signatures in an Ice Core”
Dr. Jay M. Pasachoff, Williams College, Astronomy Dept.
“American Planetariums and Our New Zeiss Projector”
Joseph Shoer ’06, Joseph Gangestad ’06, David Butts ‘06
“Exploring Practical Aerodynamics”
Steven P. Souza
“Image processing in Astronomy”
lunchtime seminar, sponsored by OIT, December 2004
“Images in Medicine and Astronomy”
guest lecture in Structuring Your Novel (ENGL 019), January 2005
“Properties of Digital Images”
guest lecture in Electron Microscopy (BIOL 010), January 2005
Jay M. Pasachoff
“Education in Astronomy”
European Astronomical Society, Granada, Spain
“Transits of Venus”
Royal Astronomical Society meeting, London
Pasachoff, J. M., G. Schneider, and R.C. Willson
“The Effect of the Transit of Venus on ACRIM’s Total Solar Irradiance Measurements”
January 2005 AAS meeting, San Diego, CA, 135.11; Bull. Am. Astron. Soc., 36, #5, 1566
Lubowich, D. A., N. Kuno, H. Roberts, T. J. Millar, C. Henkel, J. M. Pasachoff, and R. Mauersberger
“Deuterium Nucleosynthesis in AGN: Is D Cosmological”
January 2005 AAS meeting, San Diego, CA, 118.07; Bull. Am. Astron. Soc., 36, #5, 1546
Bizunok, N. S., N. R. Evans, S. J. Wolk, B. Spitzbart, F. D. Seward, S. J. Kenyon, T. G. Barnes, and J. M. Pasachoff
“The Open Cluster h Per as Seen by Chandra”
May-June 2005AAS meeting, Minneapolis, MN, 36.04; Bull. Am. Astron. Soc., 37, #2, 488
David Butts ’06, Kamen Kozarev ’05, Jay M. Pasachoff and Bart De Pontieu of Lockheed Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory
Symposium on “New Frontiers in Understanding the Structure of the Sun’s Chromosphere”
Solar Physics of the American Astronomical Society in New Orleans, May 2005
David Butts ’06 and Kamen Kozarev ’05
“A Study of Limb Spicules with the Swedish Solar Telescope and TRACE”
Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Student Research Symposium, October 2005
Kayla Gaydosh, Bryn Mawr ’05, Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Summer Fellow
“From Venus with Love: The Transit of Venus 8 June 2004”
Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Student Research Symposium, October 2005
Ryan A. Carollo
Zophia Y. Edwards
Kamen A. Kozarev
Terry-Ann K. Suer
Teaching math & physics in Casablanca, Morocco
Teaching at the Trinity School, New York City
Seeking employment
Research Assistant, Caltech