The world has gone through a very strange and unprecedented situation. We are already working on a project “Astronomy from Archival Data” specially designed to engage undergraduate and postgraduate students in these times (https://shristiastro.com/astronomy-from-archival-data/). These students included BSc, MSc and Btech students, with a physics/mathematics background. We have 866 registrations from students belonging to almost 23 countries. Online sessions of 1.5 hours are conducted on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) with recorded sessions available on youtube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeefVVJnQitri3lbXFq4uXQ for students depending on their time-zones and work constraints.
The AstroSprint, will be a continuation of the above effort. Students already well-versed with Virtual Observatory tools, and methods of data-analysis can now embark on concrete projects to address serious research problems. We shall now train them in more specialized methods of handling data like : Galfit (structural decomposition of galaxy luminosity profiles), Gadget (galaxy simulations), ccd processing software, DAOPHOT, etc. We plan to have three meetings: The first will be a three-day introductory school to be held in March, which will be a recap of the material from Astronomy from Archival Data . In the month of June/July, when students are free from classes, we plan a Five-Day Session where participants will be shown step-by-step techniques of accessing and analysing astronomy data ( Galfit, DAOPHOT, Gadget, VOTools like Topcat, Aladin, EsaSky and coding in python, astropy) in various wavelengths and address some sample problems. Finally in the month of October/November, in the third session Astro-Sprint of 5-6 days, students can plan and formulate project ideas of varying complexity, which we shall mentor. The culmination of this will be presentations of student projects. The areas we will focus on will be observations of stars, star clusters and galaxies. In case students would like some other areas we can invite mentors in other areas. Data analysis and programming skills thus learnt can be used for all kinds of data including social sciences, life sciences, sales, finance, etc. We shall also have special sessions on Report Writing, publishing and presenting in scientific journals. This plays a very important role in research methodology.
And videos will be in subtitle enabled so that non-English speaking students can also access them for better inclusion. This has been our practise for the present project where we have non-English speaking participants.
Depending on the pandemic situation these meetings will be physical or virtual. We will anyway do them in online mode too with a live webcast for foreign participants. Depending on how many of these meets are conducted physically, funds distribution will vary. We hope that we atleast manage the two last meetings. Excess of funds can be used to provide travel grants to students.