A masterplan, disrupted.

By: Joey T

When I first heard about the blog posts, I made a small masterplan inside my head. I would purposefully sign up for an interesting day, June 30th, where we had a guest speaker scheduled, and voila! No matter what happened, I had something to bank on. That all went out the window (fun fact: being thrown out of a window is called defenestration – I know that thanks to my 7th grade history teacher) when Alan changed the blog schedule after I had signed up. No! My date had been shifted by one day – to June 29. 

Who knew that June 29 would be so busy? I started my day by finishing up my calculus pset. Finally, something that I sort of knew. I felt like I was starting off pretty well. Then today’s learning blocks came. We were hit with slide after slide after slide after slide of information, all completely new. It left me utterly lost as bullet points flew by at 1.5 speed. The thing, though, was that all this stuff was so interesting. Even in my AP classes, I had never learned so much at once, and then applied it all so quickly. I knew that SSP was like this – every email and every description had told me so. But being fully immersed in it now for just over a week has made me realize just how much there is to learn here, and I am for it, 10,000% (that is mathematically accurate, don’t ask me for the proof).

One of the many slides that both confused me and intrigued me at the same time

But anywho, let’s continue on. We also learned the joys of astronomy technology – particularly AstroImageJ, which my observing team tinkered with for over an hour to try to get processed images, only to fail miserably many, many times. The extremely extravagant solution was revealed 10 minutes after our second learning block – we had to de-enable the Filename Number Filtering. And yet, even after all of the frustration, I was ecstatic when the processed images popped up on my screen. It was a feeling of utmost satisfaction and elation – and I honestly can’t wait until my team actually gets data to analyze and process.

A picture of one of my reduced images in AstroImageJ. Yes, a picture, because my screenshot button decided to stop working 🙂

After that, I checked my calculus pset and figured out I had solved one of my problems incorrectly, which meant that I had to go back and redo it (thanks for the help, Sanjana!). This brings me to another thing that I’ve learned so far – that my fellow SSPers are some of the most incredible and nicest people that I’ve ever met. They are always willing to help you, and it’s the greatest feeling in the world when you can get help and people want to give it to you. In my past, I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. Not at my old charter school, not at my new public high school, not in any public place with other people. There was always some part of myself that I couldn’t be, that had to be kept under the covers.  But here, even virtually, I finally feel like I can be my true, fullest self. 


A note on the virtual setting of SSP. Yes, we aren’t in person, but as ZP told me earlier, virtual SSP is equally difficult, if not more so, than in person. I think we all can attest to that. But I also think that because everything is virtual, you have to work harder in all areas – in academics, in talking to people, and balancing everything so that you can make the most of the time that you do have. I, for one, never thought that I would be here, but yet, life turns out differently than we think. And I am going to make sure that in every second of every day, I’m making the most of it, because I am so, so grateful for the sheer opportunity of being here.


While I’m at it, (and this may seem impromptu, and I’m sorry for how this post jumps around a lot – a bit like my thoughts at the current moment, like a constant hurricane swirling in circles, but anyway) I want to thank all the TAs and the faculty members. You guys are mind blowingly amazing, and you make this experience so much better. I think things move so fast that sometimes we forget to stop and wait for a minute to realize everything that you’ve done and will continue to do for us throughout the program, so I just wanted to take that moment, and shout out loud to the stars above: THANK YOU ZP, Mason, Alan, Kimberly, Dr. F, Dr. H, and Ms. M! 


There are honestly not enough words for me to continue to describe everything that’s stood out to me during SSP so far, but I do want to mention the observing session at CWU, from last week, which has been a big highlight so far. I watched as people clicked the “SLEW” button and got images that allowed them to detect their asteroid. And even though that only meant a little dot blurring back and forth between images, I was awestruck. I never meant to, but I ended up staying for the entire session, until it was 3 am in my local time and I was tired out of mind, but I just could not close my laptop, not when there were still images being taken and detection going on and interesting questions being asked. Let me tell you – it was completely worth it, despite the bags under my eyes in the morning.

A picture of one of the images taken during the CWU observing session. Circled in the green dot is an asteroid!

I definitely feel like I got way too deep during this blog post, but I meant everything that I said. While my “masterplan” never really came to fruition, it turns out June 29 was quite a fascinating day. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s guest speaker, and now I’m gonna go attempt the optional questions on the Optics and Telescope pset. The journey ahead is looking bright. I will leave you with my cow picture, which I personally found fun to draw and a nice and effective destresser.

About Me

Hey everyone! I’m Joey, and I live in Shoreview, Minnesota. When I’m not studying (for classes or for science olympiad), I help lead the UNICEF club and Startup club at my high school. In my free time, I love to read, write, and stargaze. Talk to me about anything Marvel or Harry Potter related!