My Experience at the Adler


My name is Micah and I am going to be a senior at Lane Tech College Prep. One interest I developed in high school is computer science. My recent interest in coding as well as my prior interest in natural science is one of the reasons I wanted to be apart of Citizen Science Ambassadors. Looking back on my experience working on this project, I am glad that I chose the Milky Way project and researched star clusters (closely grouped stars). Since this was probably the topic that I knew the least about, I wanted to challenge myself and find out more on this subject. I was able to learn a lot about the Milky Way and its different components. Doing this particular project also made me much more interested in astronomy in general.

I am also glad I did this project because I was able to figure out how to solve problems on my own. After coming up with a research question, I was able to go back to the iPython notebook and explore my options. While I was not familiar with these applications of python, I was still able to find a way to use Python to answer my question. I eventually figured out how to make a scatter plot of my data.

I was able to use iPython to answer my question and test my hypothesis, while also getting an in depth explanation from researchers at the Adler Planetarium. After using the iPython notebook, I found that as an open star cluster ages, its diameter decreases. Even though I had come up with a conclusion based on the data, an expert on my topic was able to confirm my research as well as provide some additional information on why I got these particular results. Because of this I found out that the diameter of a star cluster decreases because the larger stars move toward the center of the cluster, while smaller stars are pushed out of the cluster.

That being said, this new information brought up some new questions. I began to wonder, since smaller stars had a tendency to be pushed out of the cluster, if the mass of a star cluster would also decrease as it ages. I am also curious to find the results of a similar experiment, but using other types of clusters rather than only open clusters. Finally, if I had time, I would also remove as many outlying star clusters from our data set. I would like to do this to see how much the best-fit line of the scatter plot is affected.

While I had expected to learn a lot on my own project, I was pleasantly surprised that I was also able to learn a lot about other projects. I am glad I was able to find out about other projects for a couple of reasons. First, it’s always nice to be able to learn about new things, such as migration patterns or galaxy types. In addition to this, I was able to observe how everyone else used Python to analyze their data and answer their questions.


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