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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Optical aurora detectors: using natural optics to motivate education and outreach
Author(s): Joseph A. Shaw; Jesse M. Way; Nathan J. Pust; Paul W. Nugent; Hans Coate; Daniel Balster

Paper Abstract

Natural optical phenomena enjoy a level of interest sufficiently high among a wide array of people to provide ideal education and outreach opportunities. The aurora promotes particularly high interest, perhaps because of its relative rarity in the areas of the world where most people live. A project is being conducted at Montana State University to use common interest and curiosity about auroras to motivate learning and outreach through the design and deployment of optical sensor systems that detect the presence of an auroral display and send cell phone messages to alert interested people. Project participants learn about the physics and optics of the aurora, basic principles of optical system design, radiometric calculations and calibrations, electro-optical detectors, electronics, embedded computer systems, and computer software. The project is moving into a stage where it will provide greatly expanded outreach and education opportunities as optical aurora detector kits are created and disbursed to colleges around our region.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 June 2009
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 9666, 11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference, 966608 (5 June 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.2207940
Show Author Affiliations
Joseph A. Shaw, Montana State Univ. (United States)
Jesse M. Way, Montana State Univ. (United States)
Nathan J. Pust, Montana State Univ. (United States)
Paul W. Nugent, Montana State Univ. (United States)
Hans Coate, Montana State Univ. (United States)
Daniel Balster, Montana State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9666:
11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference
K. Alan Shore, Editor(s)

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