Students at Mineral County School District are a part of a pilot program where they are learning to reach for the stars, literally. As part of a $1 million collaborative grant from National Science Foundation, Cal Poly and a Colorado university are helping astronomy programs in rural areas.

With the help of researchers including teachers, high school students and amateur astronomers, they will be measuring the sizes of Kuiper Belt Objects (as shown in the picture).

These objects are large, icy bodies that orbit the sun in outer space beyond Neptune. With the help of researchers, the size of these objects will give the teams a better understanding of their formation and composition and an insight into the origins of our solar system.

The pilot program at our school district is to use a telescope for educational purposes. The high school offers an astronomy class and students have been using the telescope to view such phenomena’s as the rings of Saturn.

The project is in its second phase and communities such as Bishop, Hawthorne and Reno are already participating in the research and education. This fall, a team will be recruiting more team members in western states.

By April 2015, it is hoped that a 40-site network is operational where the citizen astronomer can begin their measurements.