CNN NEWS REPORTED IN APRIL that a group of high school students from Oil City High School in Pennsylvania played a role in the discovery of three new supernovas. The students were participating in LBL's Hands-on Universe Program, directed by Carl Pennypacker.
The program makes the tools of professional astrophysics available to high school teachers and students by letting them call up on their computers astronomical images taken the night before by two telescopes operated by UC Berkeley's Astronomy Department. Then, like professional astronomers, they can search images for new objects ranging from supernovas to comets.
The Pennsylvania students made the preliminary sightings, later confirmed to be three supernovas, among the faintest and most distant exploding stars ever seen. The Hands-on Universe Program currently works with 30 teachers across the United States. Pennypacker says they have been swamped with requests to participate, and he hopes that within five years the majority of high schools in the United States will be able to do so.
Hands-on Universe is part of a larger plan for providing access to the Laboratory through electronic networks like the Internet.
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