Little Bear Observatory’s Founder

Little Bear Observatory’s Founder

Caroline Moore founded the observatory in 2012 as part of the national Senior Project Program. The entire observatory project was funded by monetary donations, fundraisers and generous contributions of equipment, construction labor, materials and time. Ms. Moore is a 2012 graduate and went on to study at the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs.

In November, 2008, at age 14, Caroline Moore discovered supernova 2008ha in the galaxy UGC 12682 in the constellation Pegasus. Working as a volunteer and a part of the Puckett Observatory Supernova Search team, Caroline spent approximately seven months viewing thousands of POSS image using special computer software.

The POSS volunteers search the images for novae, or “new stars.” According to an article in Astronomy Magazine, sometimes the nova is the sudden (and temporary) brightening of a star, but sometimes it is the one-time fireworks of a sun blowing itself to pieces – a supernova.

At that time, Moore was the youngest person to discover a supernova. What made her discovery unique was that supernova 2008ha was one of the “most peculiar and interesting supernovae ever,” according to Alex Filippenko, leader of a group of supernovae hunters at the University of California at Berkeley.

The Supernova, which is estimated to be 74 million light years old, may have been a “failed” supernova whose blast was not powerful enough to destroy the entire star. “Coincidentally, the youngest person to ever discover a supernova found one of the most peculiar and interesting supernovae ever,” said Filippenko.

In July of 2009, at age 15, Caroline discovered her second supernova, SN2009he, a type 1a (supernovae that results from the violent explosion of a white dwarf star).

Moore has been recognized by the American Association of Variable Star Observers. Their first and youngest non-member to receive such an award. Caroline served as iOptron’s Young Astronomer of the Year 2009-2010. She has also appeared several times on MSNBC’s The Rachel Madow Show, Fox’s The Live Desk, and National Public Radio.

Articles that she has authored have been featured in periodicals such as Sky and Telescope and Astronomy Technology Today. Caroline is a member of the Rockland Astronomy Club, the Orange County Astronomical Association, The Pucket Supernova Search Team, and she was the youngest member American Association of Variable Star Observers. She served as the president of the Warwick Valley High School Astronomy Club and is also the co-coordinator of children’s activities as the North East Astronomy Forum.