More than 100 Earth Science students and staff explore observatory with Siena astronomer

Dr. Rapson speaking with student at Scotia-Glenville

Today, more than 100 Earth Science students, teachers and others had the unique opportunity to virtually meet with a regional astronomer from the Dudley Observatory at Siena College, Dr. Valerie Rapson.

Students researched and prepared questions about astronomy weeks before Dr. Rapson’s virtual visit and she graciously took the time to answer each one in detail!

We discussed current research on comets and meteor showers, red shift, black holes, star formation, planet classification, and hypothetical questions such as “What planet would be the best to inhabit if we needed to evacuate Earth?”

Scotia-Glenville is grateful to Dr. Rapson for taking the time to meet with students and staff and for giving them an astronomer’s glimpse of the universe! A big thank you to our Earth Science teachers for creating this event for our students!

Telescope at Dudley Observatory
Dr. Rapson with one of many telescopes at the Dudley Observatory at Siena College.

Dudley Observatory Astronomer, Dr. Rapson, received a Ph.D. from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology and a Bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Rochester.

She has extensive research experience in the chemical composition and structure of planet-forming disks around nearby young stars and in atmospheric science and star formation as observed by infrared telescopes. Dr. Rapson brings extensive experience in the field of informal astronomy education reaching people of all ages from summer class students to senior citizens.

The Dudley Observatory

The Dudley Observatory, chartered by the State of New York in 1852, is the oldest independent organization in the United States supporting research and education in astronomy and the history of astronomy.

The current focus of the Dudley Observatory is on using astronomy to promote science education, with an emphasis on education, recruitment and early career development in science and technology.

The Dudley Observatory’s library contains one of the world’s finest collections of historically significant astronomical texts, including rare books of Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler.

To learn more about the Dudley Observatory, including interactive maps of the night sky, educational programs, lectures, events and resources, please visit