When she’s not enjoying the beach or playing alto sax, tenor sax, trumpet or guitar, April Gadsby keeps tabs on the stars.
Gadsby, a Goleta Valley Junior High eighth-grader, can plot a light curve of an eclipsing binary system using data she gathered halfway across the world using her home computer.
Gadsby’s science teacher, Kim Miller, says Gadsby also controls a multimillion-dollar robotic telescope in Australia, e-mails her results to the national schools astronomer of Great Britain, and, on May 31, will give a short talk at a teachers conference at the
As part of a class project with the LCOGT, Gadsby learned how to use the Muhlenberg telescope in Siding Springs, Australia, and became interested in using robotic telescopes to gather data about distant star systems.
“I have been interested in astronomy since I was 10 years old,” Gadsby says. “This was the first time in my life that I met real astronomers, not amateurs, and actually got to work with them. It was exciting to use the research-grade telescope and exhilarating to create light curves that actually looked like binary system light curves.”
Gadsby worked with local astronomers Dr. Martin Hidas and Dr. Rachel Street and received help over the Internet from Daniel Duggan of the Faulkes Telescope project in Great Britain.
“We are impressed with her enthusiasm and pleased that she was able to use our facilities to do a wonderful research project,” said Jessica Barton, the education outreach coordinator for LCOGT.
Barbara Keyani is the Santa Barbara School District’s coordinator of special projects and communications.