When the party is over :(

This special day is a day full of exceptions.

Today concludes observing team CUB2’s valiant streak of observation failure. The last observation request we would submit during SSP has, unlike its four predecessors, succeeded! Thanks 
to Dr. Fallscheer from the ONL campus and Isaac the really cool telescope dude, my team completed our first direct imaging of the elusive 1998OH via remote control on Zoom. Moral of the story: in life, if you want anything, you have got to do it yourself.

Gru meme
1. submit an observation request
2. get images back
3. (do photometry crossed out) get images back
4. [Gru looks at easel] (do photometry crossed out) get images back

But this was not the only exception. Unlike its four predecessors, this week we did not complete any psets (though the OD code, Swift simulations, and MPC report proved to be more than a handful). Unlike its countless predecessors (last year does not count), this year’s SSP is conducted on Zoom.

Recently, my mother inquired of me if I was happy that my “SSP quarantine” (because I rarely leave the house) was almost over. I realized my reply was not in agreement with her expectation; I was actually upset that SSP passed by so quickly.

So how does an online summer program with an exceptionally undescriptive name become so special to me?

That was the question I often wondered after Learning Block at 2 AM when, lately, I’ve been losing sleep (iykyk). Is it our shared interest in astronomy and physics? Is it some sort of camaraderie that arose from collectively struggling with the same pset? Or is it sympathy for each other for being stuck on Zoom for eight hours a day?

Maybe all of those, but I have come to realize it is really the little moments that we share with the people that makes the program unique and the debugging tolerable. The sympathetic looks other teams give us when they hear about my team’s lack of images. The immense gratification when the audience “wowed” and bopped at the talent show music video I spent hours piecing together and lining up. Zoom shenanigans, including but not limited to the Moly army, Molly’s best joke ever, and cover mouth laugh gang… 

Series of zoom images of SSP TA Molly (with the mispelling Moly) 
One image is actually Molly, smiling because we surprised them for their birthday
4 SSPers

Yes, having to only think about astronomy and nothing else for a month has been my dream, but doing astronomy online without a group of passionate and intelligent people would not be nearly as enjoyable. For me, it is these little moments that make spending five weeks on Zoom worth every bit of it.

I know it’s not over yet, but I also know the day when we must say goodbye will come sooner than we would like. So here it is from me, a few days in advance: farewell, keep in touch, and I really hope to see you again, party people.

-Jack

About me:

Hello I’m Jack! During the school year, you can find me in California doing astronomy, playing volleyball, climbing rocks, vibing to music and playing sax. Over the summer, you can find me in Shenzhen, China doing the same things, just not around horses.