Assistant Professor Brendan Britton has been teaching two popular astronomy courses at CCRI since 2009 noted for their emphasis on mathematical rigor. They are more than just an astronomy class; they introduce students to the science of large numbers, the subtlety of measurement and the need for quantitative reasoning in their everyday life. The lectures vary in rhythm between images of celestial objects, fun demonstrations and mathematical calculations that describe quantitatively the observations they make. His lab courses are also augmented by many mandatory trips to the Margaret M. Jacoby Observatory on campus to observe the celestial objects they study in the classroom from the 16-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The observations sessions take the science from the abstract world of lecture to the natural world visible in the stars above.
Now he has begun a shift in the focus on data collection and analysis with his astro imaging program. By upgrading the telescope to support the imaging of stars with a CCD camera, Britton will train a small group of highly motivated students to use the CCD to collect and process images from space and, eventually, analyze the light for small-scale scientific research projects. The astro imaging program will motivate students to choose career paths in the physical sciences and train them to use modern equipment the way working scientists in the field do. They will be better prepared for work in laboratories at major universities around the country.