Holy Jumping Jupiter!

…is exactly how I would describe SSP thus far! This particular exclamation by Dr. Dubson was originally meant to illustrate Maxwell’s equations and his discoveries on electromagnetism during today’s morning lecture. However, it also perfectly captures how we all feel, knowing that we’re just past the half-way mark of our SSP experience.

The initial rush of meeting the brightest minds from across the world (!) and being thrown into the deep-end of astrophysics may be waning, but the whirlwind of lectures, events, and activities this past week has kept us on our toes as always. Even so, everything seems to be falling into place! We’re seeing how the fast pace of earlier lectures and problem sets has prepared us for our final project–especially the r dot dot r dot cross r dot… and so on. It’s incredible to see how it all leads to determining our asteroid’s orbit!

Milenka furiously coding, saving the world in the process!

“Work hard, play hard” is certainly a motto that we’ve taken to heart here, too! Despite working together through the challenging problem sets, answering the question of the days as creatively as possible, and sighing in relief as we successfully debug the onslaught of orbit determination code assignments, we’ve all gotten the hang of spending time away from SBO and the computer lab to enjoy our time together. This past week, this has come in the form of celebrating our beloved site director’s birthday with a ginormous chalk drawing at Arnett, or taking well-deserved breaks from problem sets with “fundatory” activities like beach volleyball and glow-stick hide-and-seek. There have also been some incredible synchronized jumps off diving boards during our late night pool party. However, I can’t leave out the comedic duo, Matthew and Matthew–mealtimes are absolute bananas (pun intended), and I’ll leave you to wonder why invoking the “Lagrange point” in our conversations can cause minutes of laughter, leaving us all breathless.

The two Matthew’s at dinner… matching, and with bananas…
Glow stick bracelets for hide and seek! The goal? Find the TAs!

After almost 8 consecutive nights of failed observations due to crazy Boulder weather, my group and I finally got a clear sky to image our asteroid! However, it seems that we’ve also found three unidentified objects moving across the sky… One theory is that they are geosynchronous satellites, but we now plan on taking a Klingon 101 course…

While we successfully imaged our asteroid (1999 GJ2, near the center of this gif), we somehow also have three unidentified objects moving across our sequence… mysterious!

The least cloud coverage in quite a while for the early shift crew! The observation deck is definitely my favorite place on campus.

While it’s amazing to think about how far we have come so far, I can’t help but look forward and think to myself about how the last half of SSP will be a sprint to the finish–but I’ll savor every moment along the way!


Hey there! I’m Alison, and I’m a rising senior at Crystal Springs Uplands School. While I arrived at SSP with my passion in programming and photography, I love how SSP has challenged me to completely leave my comfort zone and dive head first into astrophysics–a combination of everything I love! SSP has inspired me to continue looking up at the stars, and I hope to always stay connected with this wonderful community.