Newswise — Nine more participants are about to embark on an astronomy trip of a lifetime.  Each has been selected for the prestigious Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program (ACEAP), a behind-the-scenes immersive experience to five astronomical observatories in Chile from June 10 to 18.  The participants include educators and public outreach professionals with ties to astronomy.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) provides major funding toward the non-airfare costs of their program.  This will be ACEAP’s fourth consecutive June trip, besides the most recent program held this January.

The tour will include in-depth visits of the major NSF-funded observatories in Chile, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope, and the Gemini South Observatory.  They will also visit the Andean Astronomical Observatory (AAO), a large private facility, as well as a few cultural and geographical places of interest.

“Chile is rapidly becoming the astronomy capital of the world, providing a window to the universe and discoveries that benefit all of humanity,” said Tim Spuck, principal investigator for the ACEAP program and education director for Associated Universities, Inc.  Chile’s unique geographical assets—a plethora of rural, high and dry sites—make it a mecca for investigating the heavens.  By about 2022, Chile will host 70 percent of the world’s astronomy infrastructure.

ACEAP participants, known as Ambassadors, receive extensive training in the science and technology of telescope observatories, and in communicating STEM concepts.  ACEAP Ambassadors share their knowledge with the public long after they return home, through media, presentations, or with students.  The nine selected for this trip will join the 36 existing Ambassadors.  The upcoming trip is ACEAP’s last with current funding.

The ACEAP Ambassador class for June 2018 includes the following participants:

  • Stephen Case, physics and astronomy professor at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, director of the Strickler Planetarium, and astronomy communicator through print in the Kankakee Daily Journal, and radio syndicated by Shine.FM
  • Yasmín Catricheo, physics teacher and astronomy workshop director at Concepción secondary school in Chillan, Chile, and ambassador for indigenous Mapuche community
  • John Goar, science teacher at North Kitsap High School in Poulsbo, Washington, and leader of telescope programs at Olympic National Park
  • Eileen Grzybowski, astronomy and biology teacher at Norman North High School in Norman, Oklahoma, who leads astronomy talks and stargazing events
  • Kyle Jeter, teacher of honors astronomy in Broward County, Florida, and director of the Amazing Space and Science Camp in Boca Raton, Florida
  • Moiya McTier, an astronomy doctoral student at Columbia University, and science communicator through public talks and the podcast So You Think You Can Science
  • Samara Nagle, an astrophotographer who runs the Telescope Addicts facebook group
  • Tiffany Stone Wolbrecht, lecturer and show producer at Ward Beecher Planetarium at Youngstown State University in Ohio, and holds public astronomy programs through the Mahoning Valley Astronomical Society
  • Nicolle Zellner, astronomy and physics professor at Albion College in Michigan, who holds public astronomy activities and communicates astronomy to the media

More information about ACEAP and its Ambassadors can be found here:

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The Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program is a collaborative project of Associated Universities Inc., the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) and Gemini Observatory. NOAO and Gemini are both managed by Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) is a non-profit research management organization established in 1946, dedicated to planning, building, and operating large national and international scientific facilities.