We want to broaden access to this kind of science, giving more students opportunities to use real science-grade equipment and learn research skills in ways that will help them through the STEM pipeline, whether they want to follow astronomy or some other path
Bruce Macintosh – Director, University of California Observatories

STARs is a major effort to expand Lick Observatory’s Bay Area education and outreach programs. STARs will positively impact Bay Area learners and educators at all levels, engaging them in authentic astronomy learning and research activities. This effort will simultaneously benefit Lick Observatory by engaging a diverse community of student-scientists in working with the observatory’s telescopes, increasing the academic output of the observatory.

STARs includes:

  • Expanding mountaintop and “sea level” education and outreach activities, engaging the larger Bay Area community in astronomy. This includes building partnerships with K-12 schools, 2- and 4-year colleges and universities, and informal learning venues such as museums and libraries across the Bay Area.
  • Engaging Bay Area colleges in working with the research facilities at Lick Observatory, expanding access to the Lick Observatory telescopes, and refurbishing dormitories on Mount Hamilton.
  • Training astronomy graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in effective teaching and mentoring strategies through the Institute for Scientist & Engineer Educators, and engaging them in STARs educational activities.
UCO’s Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators (ISEE), which received a presidential award for excellence in STEM mentoring, will provide training for the teachers, graduate students, and postdoctoral scholars participating in the STARs programs, in addition to providing expertise in curriculum development and assessment. ISEE Director Lisa Hunter and her team will lead STARs in the short term as the observatory spins up the new programs and begins hiring permanent staff.
Why is STARs important?
Many Bay Area students who are interested in learning about and doing astronomy live very close to Lick Observatory but (until now) have had little to no access to the research and education going on up on Mount Hamilton. STARs will change that, benefiting Bay Area students with opportunities to engage in authentic science, and benefiting the astronomy community by bringing in a diverse community of student-scientists.
What are the challenges in implementing STARs?
It is not an easy drive up to Lick Observatory, and the dorms and kitchen are in need of restoration. This makes it challenging to bring groups of students up to the mountain for overnight observations or for other education and outreach opportunities. STARs will improve the infrastructure for these programs.  One thing that is not a challenge: getting the University of California Observatories personnel involved. Everyone at UCO is very excited about STARs!
How does STARs fit in with other education and outreach programs going on at Lick Observatory and affiliated institutions?
The education and outreach programs developed through STARs will complement existing programs, such as the Lamat Institute at UC Santa Cruz and AstroTech at UC Berkeley. STARs will partner with Bay Area college faculty and ISEE’s Professional Development Program to co-develop learning activities that can be implemented in college courses and programs. STARs will also increase Bay Area faculty and students’ access to Lick Observatory telescopes for research. This benefits Lick Observatory, too, as it will increase the kinds of studies being done with the telescopes on Mount Hamilton. STARs will also build on Lick Observatory’s existing outreach programs, including the Summer Series of lectures, concerts, and telescope viewings, and the Spanish-language La Noche de las Estrellas program. STARs will provide more outreach opportunities at “sea level”, too, for example at Bay Area K-12 schools and libraries.
How can I get involved in STARs?
Please fill out our contact form directly below to let us know you are interested in getting involved.

STARs is funded by a generous grant to University of California Observatories by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.