Our Astronomy Institute is on pause for our Summer Institute Offerings.

We will not be able to offer Astronomy this summer, but hope to expand our Institute offerings into the future. Learn more about our other Institute offerings below.

About the Astronomy Institute

Ready to star-gaze like a professional using some of Vermont’s most powerful telescopic equipment? At the Astronomy Institute, you will conduct original research using cutting edge telescope equipment in one of the darkest observatories in the United States, discover new frontiers, interact with space professionals ranging from astronomers to spaceship engineers, and learn about careers related to the skies – including many right here in Vermont!

At This Institute You Will

  • Track the constellations & the trajectories of planets and astral bodies.
  • Explore telescopes, optics, and how to use them.
  • Use and compare visual and digital observation techniques and advanced CCD camera systems.
  • Learn to operate a robotic telescope remotely.
  • Discover safe solar observation and photography techniques including white light and Hydrogen alpha.
  • Conduct deep sky astrophotography, narrow band research and video imaging, photometry (i.e. the precise measurement of the brightness of stars, asteroid periods, & supernovae in specific wavelengths), spectroscopy (i.e. analyzing the “fingerprints” of elements in stars & planets), and astrometry (i.e. measuring the position of moving objects in outer space).
  • Combine what you learn about physics, art, chemistry, and math to create your own photographic images – like these ones, generated by students, that were published on the National Geographic website!
  • Observe the sky with a multitude of tools, with an emphasis throughout on how to make and reduce astronomical observations and data for research, collaboration with other astronomers, and the conduct of research-quality science.
  • Conduct college-level science research, have the opportunity to launch a semester-long project for credit or publication, and gain skills to work on a research team at a major university.
  • Have amazing late nights under the stars.
GIV students spell out words with hand symbols.

Check out the vibe from Astronomy 2022!

Astronomy Faculty

Damon Cawley | Institute Director

Damon Cawley is a University of Pennsylvania graduate and an AmeriCorps alum having served with City Year in multiple cities and worked on staff at their headquarters in Boston. He is the former Northern Skies Observatory Director and also former Director of Guest Engagement at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. He is currently the secretary of the Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation board and president of the Passumpsic Valley Land Trust board.

Brad Vietje | Amateur Astronomer

Brad Vietje has been an active amateur astronomer and telescope maker for over 35 years. A former president of the Springfield Telescope Makers and the Vermont Astronomical Society, Brad now coordinates school outreach and research at Northern Skies Observatory, in Peacham, VT. A renewable energy consultant and part-time woodturner, Brad and his wife live in a passive solar straw bale house and permaculture homestead in Newbury, VT with their dog, Homer.

Bill Vinton | Astronomy Teacher

Bill Vinton has been a physics and astronomy teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy since 1980. A graduate of Dartmouth College (AB Cum Laude with distinction in Physics, 1976; MALS, 1991), he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching in 1992, and was a member of the VISMT Curriculum Framework Commission from 1993 to 1996. He currently serves as adjunct faculty at Antioch University New England as a Master Teacher in the Critical Skills Program in the Education Department’s Antioch Center for School Renewal. In addition, Bill has been the director of the theatre program at St. Johnsbury Academy since 1986 and was the dedicee for the Vermont State Drama Festival in 2005, and was named a Life Member of the New England Drama Council in 2014. Currently Bill is the President of the Northeast Kingdom Astronomy Foundation and is an active docent with NKAF. He lives with his wife in Waterford, VT, in the post and beam house that they built together, and regularly visits his new grandson Will, who lives in Peacham.

Learn more about our other Institute offerings below.

Other Institutes