The group is led by Prof. Elliott Horch and Prof. Dana Casetti. Other current group members at SCSU include Dr. Terry Girard, graduate students Jonathan Leonard, Xander Petroski, and Fiona Powers-Özyurt, and undergraduates Max Martone, Andrew Mansfield, Jeremy Turpin, and Ana Baculima.

Past graduate students (and their current affiliations) include Nicole Granucci (Quinnipiac University), Caitlin Hansen (Yale University), Paul Klaucke (Quinnipiac University), Hang Pham (Yale University), Justin Rupert (MDM Observatory), Sam Weiss (Yale University), Rich Pellegrino (SCSU), Torrie Sutherland (Aperture Optical Sciences), Melissa Shea (Aperture Optical Sciences), and Xavier Lesley (Ohio State University).


Astronomy Faculty


Group News

  • January 2023. Dr. Gerard van Belle (Lowell Observatory) and Dr. Horch win a Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP) grant, which will be used to improve the QWSSI instrument at the Lowell Discovery Telescope. Congratulations to them!

  • February 2023. The Physics and Earth Science Department officially reopen the campus planetarium. Read more here.

  • May 2023. Dr. Casetti wins the 2023 Board of Regents Research Prize for Southern based on her Hubble Space Telescope work. Congratulations to her!

  • September 2023. Dr. Roberto Baena-Gallé, a collaborator of both Dr. Casetti and Dr. Horch, receives a fellowship to return to SCSU to continue research in our group in 2024. Congratulations to Roberto!

Current Research Projects

Astronomical Instrumentation. The group is involved in the construction of high-resolution imaging systems used with large telescopes at major observatories, and in novel, prototype high-resolution imaging systems used on campus.

Galactic Dynamics. This field studies the formation and evolution of our Milky Way galaxy in a cosmological context. The work at SCSU is focused on building and analyzing surveys of stars and stellar systems in our Galaxy and its satellites. Specifically, measurements are made of transverse velocities of these objects, and these are combined with other properties to constrain cosmologically-motivated Milky-Way models.

Intensity Interferometry. A high-resolution technique first used in the 1950's is being revisited at SCSU with modern instrumentation. The goal is to develop and use a wirelessly connected, multiple-telescope instrument capable of measuring stellar diameters from our campus.

Speckle Imaging Surveys of Low-Mass Stars and Exoplanet Hosts. Two NSF grants have funded our observational program, in collaboration with the RECONS Institute and Lowell Observatory. These projects are systematic high-resolution imaging surveys of K and M dwarf stars, that is, those less massive than the Sun. We also team with researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center to provide high-resolution images of exoplanet host stars, in support of the K2 and TESS satellite missions. Our work involves observing at the WIYN Telescope, Lowell Observatory's Discovery Channel Telescope, and both Gemini telescopes. The work will result in a volume-limited sample of stars for which the binary and multiple-star statistics are well-known, which will inform theories of star and planet formation.

Further astronomy activities on campus are conducted in the Earth Science Department.