Visit to the Rubin Observatory

In October 2023, our team, members of the DiRAC Advisory Board, and DiRAC’s longtime supporters visited the Rubin Observatory in Chile. It has been an amazing trip! An opportunity to ponder on the terrific achievements from building the structure in the harsh environment to the marvel of engineering. We are excited to look ahead and anticipate discoveries once the Rubin Observatory starts its observations in 2025.

Sign up for the upcoming series of DiRAC events where we will share with the community how this work will change astronomy as we know it today, the local UW involvement and research, and the updates on the Rubin Observatory progress! The event format ranges from the Planetarium Experiences, the Lightning Talks, to the Lab Tours.

A photo gallery with highlights from the Rubin Observatory visit in October 2023 can be found here.

DiRAC Event: Planetarium Experience & Lab Tour

On November 16th, 2023 we would like to invite you to the DiRAC Planetarium Event “A New Era of Discovery: Mapping the Universe with the Rubin Observatory”. The event will take place at the UW Planetarium.

Join us for an evening of discussion and learning with UW astronomers building the largest sky survey in human history. Please reserve your spot here, there are limited number of seats available.

We’re at the brink of a new age of survey-driven discovery in astronomy. Where before we could only study a handful of objects at a time, new detectors, algorithms, and telescopes will soon allow us – and the entire world – to monitor billions.

The flagship of this era will be the Rubin Observatory, set to open in Chile in 2025. Rubin will continuously gather data for over 20Bn stars, 20Bn galaxies, with billions of asteroid observations. In importance, it is a ground-based peer of the Webb space telescope.

In about a year, DiRAC researchers, students, and citizen scientists will use Rubin to scan the Solar System for hazardous asteroids, discover interstellar comets, and search for new planets in our Solar System. Our codes will map the Milky Way, detect the most energetic explosions in the universe, and help understand Dark Energy. Our students will learn about astronomy by participating in once-in-a-generation wave of discovery. We’re looking forward to sharing this with the community of enthusiasts, friends, and supporters who make DiRAC possible. 

Join us at this special event to meet our team, and learn what is to come from the most powerful sky survey telescope ever built!

DiRAC Presents at the UW Foundation Board

Last week we were delighted to be able to present in front of the UW Foundation Board at their first meeting of the academic year. Our fearless Director Mario Juric, the newest member of our leadership team Sarah Greenstreet, and myself shared a tiny slice of the incredible work the DiRAC team has produced over the last six years, the excitement we feel with the beginning of Rubin/LSST right around the corner, and a few of the science highlights from our renowned Solar System research group.

This event also allowed us to thank our community of supporters, including and especially Charles and Lisa Simonyi whose gift launched DiRAC and our DiRAC Fellowship program, the many Husky Giving Day donors who have enabled our Summer Research Prize, especially our board members David Brooks and Jeff Glickman, and our colleagues and leadership across the UW and College of Arts and Sciences. The careers launched, discoveries made, and friendships built are all enabled by this support.

After the UW Foundation Board presentation, we were honored to host a deep-dive event for the Directors at the eScience Institute, showcasing the breadth of science happening in the Department of Astronomy. It was a banner day for UW Astronomy and DiRAC, and I’m so grateful to our team for making it happen. A very special thanks to our outreach director, Nikolina Horvat, for making these events happen!

I look forward to welcoming everyone at future events we’re planning, and can’t wait to see what new surprises about the Universe we’ll find this year…

James Davenport
Associate Director, DiRAC

DiRAC Summer Research Prize – Open

2022 Application

Deadline: May 31st, 2022

The DiRAC Summer Research Prize program supports undergraduate research projects at the
University of Washington. Funding for this program has been generously provided by donations
through the 2022 Husky Giving Day program. Students who are currently enrolled at UW and
working with DiRAC researchers can apply.

Projects are expected to be specific, with a clear goal, outcome, or deliverable by the end of the
summer. While we especially hope to encourage students towards publication of their ongoing
research, projects in an earlier phase of effort are welcomed. We encourage students to work
with their mentors in crafting the research proposal.

Students supported by the DiRAC Summer Research Prize program will be asked to present a
brief summary of their projects at a DiRAC lunch event in Fall 2022.

Students are awarded $3500, supporting an 8-week research period. The level of effort is
expected to be approximately 20 hours per week during the awarded research period. These
funds can be awarded in addition to other summer research funding support by the department
or mentor.

Note: per UW rules, students cannot receive research credit (e.g. ASTR 499) for the same
hours supported by the DiRAC Summer Research Prize.

Submit your application as a PDF via email to the Summer Research Prize Coordinator:
Prof. James Davenport (

Student Information

Student Name:  name here

Student ID Number:  0123456789

Email Address:

Mentor Information

We require a brief letter of collaboration acknowledgment from the DiRAC mentor for each student application. This can be sent via email directly to the Summer Research Prize coordinator. Mentors must be a postdoc, research scientist, or faculty member working with DiRAC. Co-mentoring from other members of the Astronomy Department is welcomed!

DiRAC Research Mentor: Dr. ABC

(optional) Other Mentors: Dr. DEF, GHIJ KLMNOP

Project Information

Project Title:  An amazing thing!

Project Description (e.g. abstract, max 300 words):

Here is our project description. It’s a great idea and we can’t wait to work on it more.

Current State of the Project (how long has student been working on this, how close is it to publication, etc):

This student has been working on the amazing project for 3 quarters, taking Astr 499 credits with Dr ABC. We expect to have a publication ready by the end of the year. Data analysis is largely finished, and we currently have a ton of plots.

Specific Goals for Summer 2022:

We will write a paper this summer. We will have a paper outline done by June 20. Final code will be run by July 10. We plan to submit this paper for publication by Fall, and present this work at the upcoming AAS conference.