Physics at SSP is hard, but Astronomy is harder

By: Hayagreev D

When I was applying to SSP, I had no experience with formal astronomy, and so I thought the physics portion of the astrophysics program would be the main challenge. Well, I was wrong. At first, I thought “it’s just analyzing star patterns, how hard could it be?”, but I soon realized (literally on the first day) that astronomy was much more difficult than I thought it would be. The astronomy at SSP required me to learn a lot more math, and understand concepts that I was not aware of before. The preparation work before the program helped, but most of the concepts were still relatively new to me. Our first PSet was also, in my opinion, one of the hardest we have received so far, which made the first week hard, but memorable.

The PSets are quite hard and time consuming, but they actually help me cement my knowledge of the concepts and they enhance collaboration between participants. There aren’t many problems, but each problem is usually very hard, and takes a long time to solve. By the way, everyone at SSP is incredibly unique, and it’s really cool to talk to others and learn about their experiences. I have been playing several new games with my fellow participants and these activities have brought us all closer together.

Something that surprised me was that the five hour break in between the learning block, and the work/play block was not really a break. I usually ended up spending most of this time doing PSets. On the brighter side, one day at SSP passes by extremely quickly, which in theory means that I am having fun….right? Jokes aside, SSP is actually super interesting and I can’t believe how much I have learned in just three weeks.

The Guest Speakers at SSP are super cool and inspiring as well! I have learned so much from these lectures. Through these lectures, we had a chance to learn about amazing, accomplished people and their stories. Overall, the experience is truly incredible.

Finally, I would like to mention the main reason I’m at SSP : to find and analyze the trajectory of an asteroid. Finding an asteroid is actually harder than you might expect.

Here’s our asteroid: 1998 OH

The first time my partner and I tried to find the asteroid, it took an extremely long time (partly because we had some problems with reducing our images), but it got considerably easier the second time. 

The most important aspect of SSP is undoubtedly the community. The faculty and the TAs at SSP are very friendly, approachable and knowledgeable. Everyone is passionate and interested in astrophysics and is willing to help out, which makes the SSP experience so much more exciting!

About Me

Hello, I’m Hayagreev, a rising senior at Cupertino High School. I don’t currently play too many sports (because of the pandemic), but I used to play basketball and tennis, and enjoy skiing during winter. I love math, and computer science, but I also enjoy drawing and playing the alto saxophone.