|Theodor||Pribullafirstname.lastname@example.org||Astronomical Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Tatranska Lomnica, Slovakia||s|
|Martyna||Jacakemail@example.com||Astronomical Observatory, Jagiellonian University Cracow||r|
|Patryk||Liniewiczfirstname.lastname@example.org||Astronomical Observatory, Jagiellonian University Cracow||r|
|Bartlomiej||Debskiemail@example.com||Jagiellonian Univ. / Jordan Youth Center in Krakow||s|
|Lena||Kulczyckafirstname.lastname@example.org||Jordan Youth Center in Krakow||r|
|Weronika||Skrobaczemail@example.com||Jordan Youth Center in Krakow||r|
|Illia||Garbazhii-Romanchenkofirstname.lastname@example.org||Odesa Richelieu Scientific Lyceum||r|
|Vladyslava||Marsakovaemail@example.com||Odesa Richelieu Scientific Lyceum||s|
Astro camp was organized by the Vihorlat Observatory, along with co-organizers such as the Section of Variable Stars and Exoplanets of the Slovak Astronomical Society at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, and the Slovak Union of Astronomers (hereafter referred to as the Section), the Slovak Central Observatory, and the Faculty of Natural Sciences at the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Košice. The event took place from July 24th to August 2nd, 2023, at the Astronomical Observatory on Kolonické Sedlo. It was part of the implementation of the new project “Through Poloniny to the Stars” by the Vihorlat Observatory, which will bring new telescopes and observation pavilions to the observatory.
As the name suggests, the focus of the astro camp was on the study of variable stars. Following the positive experiences from the previous year, a series of lectures and practical exercises on one topic were included in the program again. This time, the topic was an advanced course on photometry using the software package IRAF. The main lecturer was once again RNDr. Theodor Pribulla, CSc., from the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences in Tatranská Lomnica. The course covered basic procedures in astronomical photometry, from acquiring images, calibrating them, matching stars, performing photometry itself, to constructing light curves. Participants were already familiar with some of these aspects, but not everyone had experience working with IRAF or had the opportunity to delve deeply into these procedures. For example, one of the practical exercises focused on analyzing the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) depending on the equipment and conditions used. It was found that the most significant impact on the SNR is the atmospheric turbulence, or “seeing.” In other words, the most effective way to obtain better data is to move the equipment to better conditions. All exercises were conducted in a Linux operating system environment, running from USB drives provided to the participants upon arrival. The Linux image with all the necessary software packages and settings was prepared by another staff member from the Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, RNDr. Richard Komžík, CSc.
In total, 15 participants attended the astro camp, including 2 from Ukraine, 6 from Poland, and the rest from Slovakia. The organizational leader of the astro camp was the chairman of the Section, Pavol A. Dubovský. The technical support was provided by another staff member from the Vihorlatská Observatory, Tomáš Medulka.
In addition to the course of photometry, the regular program of the astro camp also included night observations and solving basic tasks related to the study of variable stars. However, the night observations were considerably limited due to unexpected rainy weather. When patience ran out, the participants gathered in the planetarium and practiced visual estimation of the brightness of stars visible to the naked eye. Regarding the classical tasks, two groups of participants focused on the analysis of eclipsing binary stars, while one group constructed the O-C diagram of the spin maxima of the intermediate polar V647 Aur. The lack of clear skies allowed strengthening the theoretical part of the program. Two lectures were included as part of the program. Matúš Kamenec spoke about the transformation of RGB channels from a digital camera into the standard photometric BVRc system. Róbert Barsa provided insights into the world of advanced astrophotography.
The Jindřich Šilhán Prize was also awarded for exemplary dedication to observing variable stars. Three laureates received the prize: Patryk Liniewicz, an astronomy student at Jagiellonian University in Krakow; Iljia Garbazhii-Romanchenko, a lyceum student in Odessa; and an eight-year-old Janík Dubovský, who originally only assisted the organizers but impressed with an impressive final presentation.
Astro camp Variable already has a program planned for the following year. Dr. Pribulla promised to participate again, this time focusing on satellite data acquisition, analysis, and its connection to ground-based observations.