Who Am I
I am Michelle Park and I have been using Slooh for 4 years. I am a rising freshman at Stanford University, where I am pursuing a major in physics with a potential track in astrophysics.
My Slooh profile includes the badges I earned for completing Quest learning activities and 70,000+ Gravity Points to achieve Swan Leavitt which is level 7 out of 9.
Why I Went Looking for an Online Telescope
In 9th grade, I was beginning a research project about RR Lyrae variable stars. To gather my data, I needed access to telescopes outside of my hometown in Ohio due to the unpredictable weather and light pollution blocking my view of the night sky. After searching for remotely accessible telescopes on Google, I came across Slooh, which had the capabilities to photograph my variable star dataset for several months. I needed a product that could give me quick and easy pictures so that I could gather data over the course of months without having to worry about an immense financial cost.
I decided to sign up with Slooh because of its ability to plug in coordinates to photograph variable stars and it was considerably cheaper than the other remotely accessible telescopes that I had found online. Achieving my goals for my research was quite easy to navigate with Slooh because of its user-friendly format for reserving time slots and choosing objects to photograph.
How I Benefitted from Slooh
My original goal with Slooh was to gather images of variable stars and this was a major success: my images were clear and accurately depicted each star. However, as my research came to a close, I also discovered the personal benefits of Slooh. Today, I run an astrophotography blog with pictures of nebulae, comets, planets, and more. I enjoy photographing the wide range of beautiful objects (especially on the Slooh 1000) in my spare time and sharing them with other astronomy enthusiasts online!
Slooh has taught me the importance of scheduling. Using the reservation time slots for my images, I had to learn how to schedule each variable star for my research to gather data consistently. In addition, Slooh has become one of my favorite activities outside of school. Running my astrophotography blog with almost 17,000 followers has become the best way for me to start any day and I enjoy looking at the stunning photos of nebulae, stars, or other objects that I took overnight. Through this, I not only connected with other astronomy enthusiasts, but I also find my astrophotography as a means of hopefully inspiring my followers to pursue studies of the universe, just as it did for me.
Being a Slooh Ambassador has also provided me opportunities to network with students and teach me leadership skills in running star parties. I also realized the value of teaching astronomy at a level that can be understandable to all and how to excite passions in those who are curious about the universe. Here are a few of the skills I developed with Slooh: data analysis, problem solving, collaboration, mathematical, technical and science literacy.
Research published in the Ohio Journal of Science conducted on Slooh by Michelle Park and Dustin Schroeder. Click here for more information.
How I Will Continue Using Slooh
The lessons that Slooh taught me on celestial coordinates, astrophotography filters, and field of view will definitely carry onto my career goal as an astrophysicist and implementing future research with telescopes. I also hope to use Slooh as a stepping stone for younger students that I meet who may be passionate about the night sky but don’t know where to start. I would like to reciprocate the valuable guidance that my mentors have given me to others in the future and I believe that Slooh is the best way to achieve that goal in the long-term due to its accessibility.
For students who are confused on where to start for an academic path into astrophysics, I would say to reach out to others. Cold emailing professors, talking to your teachers, and even conversing with your peers can help you discover a lot about yourself and what you want in a career. But most importantly, this peer network can provide new opportunities into the field that may not be commonly available to other students, whether it be research or even classes that you can take at a nearby college. From there, the connections you will make are vital to entering any collaborative scientific environment.
Thank you so much for having me write this case study! I’m so excited to inspire the next generation of students and researchers who are ready to discover Slooh’s benefits.