A growing consortium of San Francisco Bay Area community colleges, Cal State campuses, and University of California Observatories, broadening access to Lick Observatory

The ASTRAL Consortium creates opportunities for college students and faculty to work with Lick Observatory telescopes, technology, and data, as they develop and share expertise across institutions. Activities include specialized workshops and field trips at Lick Observatory, observing opportunities, and innovative course and capstone research activities at member colleges.
About the ASTRAL Consortium
ASTRAL Consortium members, including Bay Area public college faculty and University of California Observatories (UCO) leadership, have identified the following goals and values which guide consortium activities and planning:

Consortium goals

  • Establish, support, and grow a Bay Area college UCO community that mutually benefits from working with Lick Observatory
  • Broaden access to Lick Observatory to include Bay Area groups that have been underrepresented and underserved
  • Provide Bay Area college students with inspirational and impactful STEM educational experiences involving Lick Observatory

Consortium values

  • Inclusion in STEM, including trust and belonging; this can mean demographic inclusion, as well as including non-scientists (e.g., citizens, taxpayers) in scientific critical thinking
  • Authentic communities of learners, co-learners, and practitioners of STEM, who value each others’ contributions to STEM discovery and education
  • Lick Observatory as a unique research facility, with its own location, history, legacy, and context
  • Critical, evidence-based thinking and ethical decision making
  • The learning sciences, including research on how people learn and how educators can teach most effectively, and factors that affect persistence in STEM
  • Authentic STEM learning experiences: providing experiences of doing astronomy as astronomy is (or should be) done
  • The full cycle of education, from initial inspiring educational experiences to advanced experiences, including advancing into educational and mentoring roles to inspire the next generation
ASTRAL Consortium Membership

Consortium Members

  • Celso Batalha, Evergreen Valley College
  • Candice Brown Pacheco, Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators
  • Claia Bryja, City College of San Francisco
  • Lancelot Kao, City College of San Francisco
  • Geoff Mathews, Foothill College
  • Pimol Moth, Hartnell College
  • Charli Sakari, San Francisco State University
  • Ian Weaver, SETI/Unistellar

Becoming a member

Membership in the consortium is open to faculty members from San Francisco Bay Area public colleges, as well as departments and institutions and other astronomy/education partners. Becoming a member involves an application process and membership agreement. Please contact Anne Metevier, Director of Lick Observatory College Partnerships, for more information.

Membership expectations include:

  • Working with Lick Observatory (in course activities, programs, education and/or research projects)
  • Commitment to working toward the goals of the consortium
  • Commitment to the values of the consortium
  • Adherence to a code of conduct
  • Targeted input on sharing of consortium resources and how consortium activities are meeting members’ need and/or could be improved
  • Regular reporting about consortium activities
ASTRAL Consortium Activities

The ASTRAL Consortium creates opportunities for college students to participate in innovative, high-impact, and inclusive astronomy experiences that utilize Lick Observatory. While some students may be inspired to pursue STEM careers, our goal is that all students who participate in consortium activities gain trust and feel belonging in the scientific enterprise.

Upcoming Activities

  • April/May 2024: Professional Development Program – UC astronomy graduate students and postdoctoral researchers train to design and teach new astronomy activities in courses at ASTRAL member colleges
  • Spring 2024: Lick Observatory field trips for college students from ASTRAL member colleges
  • July 14-18, 2024: Workshop for community college students from ASTRAL member colleges at Lick Observatory
  • July 29-August 1, 2024: Workshop for ASTRAL faculty at Lick Observatory
  • Fall 2024: UC astronomy grads and postdocs teach in Bay Area college astronomy courses

Recent Activities

  • October 17, 2023: Lick Observatory field trip for San José State students
  • October 14-15, 2023: Remote observing with the Lick Observatory 1-meter Nickel telescope at Foothill College
  • October 10, 2023: Lick Observatory field trip for Foothill College students
  • August 15-16, 2023: Faculty training (Foothill College, Sonoma State University) to observe with the 1-meter Nickel telescope at Lick Observatory
  • August 3-4, 2023: UC Observatories Workshop for Bay Area Faculty at Lick Observatory
  • May 11-12, 2023: Consortium Strategic Planning Meeting in Monterey, CA

Authentic, inclusive STEM learning experiences

A major goal of the consortium is to engage local college students in authentic astronomy learning experiences that involve Lick Observatory. University of California astronomy graduate students are designing and teaching novel college-level activities at consortium member colleges through their participation in ISEE’s Professional Development Program. An added benefit of this is the community that is created between students and researchers at multiple stages in their education and career pathways.

Small telescope observing

In addition to working with Lick Observatory’s telescopes, consortium community members have opportunities to work with Unistellar’s “smart” eVscopes on their home campuses and connect with other colleges through the Unistellar College Astronomy Network (UCAN).

Consortium funding

The ASTRAL Consortium is part of a major expansion of Lick Observatory’s education programs, funded by a generous grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.