Feb 14, 2020
Dr. Jonathan Swift (tt)
The Legacy of Astronomy in the Ojai Valley
The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and The Thacher School were founded within 2 years of each other in the late 1800s. During this time, close ties were established between George Hale and Sherman Thacher which led to many ground breaking programs and facilities including the birth of the Summer Science Program (1959), and the building of the Thacher Observatory (1965). While use of the observatory went dormant for more than a decade, the Thacher Observatory has been fully renovated and outfitted with professional grade equipment in recent years, and a progressive research program has been established which has restored this longstanding legacy and pushed the envelope of what can be accomplished by motivated and dedicated high school students. In this talk I will give an overview of the salient and most surprising elements of the Caltech-Thacher connection, and then launch into our new facility and how we are carrying this legacy forward today with an overview of our programs in exoplanets, supernovae, gravitational wave sources, eclipsing binary stars, and the monitoring of the most mysterious stars in the Galaxy.

Bio Information:

Jon was born in New York but grew up surfing and playing sports in North County, San Diego. His first loves are poetry and music. However, Jon’s fascination with the natural world led him to the intellectual frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics, where he has published his research in several areas of specialization, including cosmology, star formation, exoplanets, and astronomical instrumentation. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA with a BS in physics, and earned an MA and a PhD in astronomy & astrophysics from UC Berkeley. At Thacher, Jon redesigned and renovated the campus observatory which now includes a fully automated, research-grade telescope. In addition to directing the observatory and maintaining a vibrant research program where students are able to participate in relevant astronomical research, Jon teaches astronomy, physics, mathematics, and data science. Outside the classroom, Jon runs the winter camping program and coaches the varsity boys’ tennis team. Jon lives on the Thacher campus with his wife Gloria, daughter Annika, and son Ansel.