Los Alamos High School Students Co-Author CATE Experiment Paper

CATE groupLos Alamos High School CATE Team. Photo Courtesy LAPS


Eight current and former Los Alamos High School students, along with their mentor, Dr. Galen Gisler, are co-authors on the first article to be published from the Citizen Continental-America Telescopic Eclipse (CATE) Experiment. The article, “Acceleration of Coronal Mass Ejection Plasma in the Low Corona as Measured by the Citizen CATE Experiment,” published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, includes data collected by the LAHS group.

“For this preliminary paper, only the six best sets of data were used,” explained Deborah Grothaus, LAHS science teacher and sponsor of the high school astronomy club. “The LAHS group data was one of the six.”

Eight students were selected in early 2017 to travel to Wyoming as part of the experiment in August 2017, including Jack Benner, Madison Mas and Prescott Moore, Class of 2018; Elijah Pelofske, Class of 2019; and current seniors Isabel Crooker, Stephen Gulley, Maya Rogers and Beth Short.

According to Gisler, this first publication includes preliminary information and explanation of how the CATE experiment came about. “These students will be cited in future articles,” Gisler said.

The CATE Experiment involved scientists, students and volunteers tracking the sun using 68 identical telescopes, software and instrument packages spaced along a 2,500 mile path. Observation sites were situated in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina. As stated in the publication, the total solar eclipse provided a rare opportunity for white light observations.

LAHS senior Stephen Gulley said that the chance to participate in the experiment made him realise that he wants to go into a space-related field.  “The part that I found the most interesting was the total solar eclipse itself,” said Gulley. “It was incredible. Everyone should experience it because of how cool it is. Everything goes dark and you can see the white corona of the Sun.” 

To read the publication, go to: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1538-3873/ab558c?fbclid=IwAR1b7YK60hfm0lq7ZXExt2d3oPntMX9KBhoYrFnyuoJnQKO-1pJidb6ejJg