Monica Szakacs, News Writer:
The biggest influence on associate professor of physics Elliot Horch’s life, in terms of following his passion, was his mother. Both his parents were music teachers in the same school system that he graduated in Ohio.
“My mom was interested in many things,” said Horch, “but both my parents were good about giving me and my brothers an opportunity to explore, and they were supportive of these kinds of things.”
He said he learned the value of teaching at a very early age from his parents, and went into teaching having that influence.
“Only after doing it for a few years has it turned into something that I truly love to do and look forward to doing every day,” said Horch. “It’s been an interesting development for me to realize that I’m doing it for myself now.”
When Horch was around the age of 17, he knew physics would be for him, but when he first started taking science courses in high school, he said he was sort of hooked on chemistry.
“The next year I took physics,” said Horch, “and I remember sort of thinking to myself ‘well gee, this is why I liked chemistry so much, because there is all this physics at the root of it,’ and it sort of went from there.”
From funding from the National Science Foundation, Horch has developed a differential speckle survey instrument, which will allow astronomers to increase their knowledge of binary stars.
“This is an idea that came about basically from previous work we have done,” said Horch, “and realizing the limitations of previous camera systems and trying to get around those in some way.”
Horch has an expertise in the area of high resolution innovating techniques for astronomy and other applications, and is establishing a national reputation for the design and construction of the instrumentation for large telescopes.
“Using this instrument is similar to putting eyeglasses on a telescope,” said Horch in a previous
The camera clarifies images of distant stars 20 times greater when it is placed on telescopes. With the differential speckle survey instrument, astronomers will increase their knowledge of binary stars.
Horch’s invention is housed in the Kitt Peak National Observatory outside of Tucson, AZ, which has the largest collect of optical telescopes.
Horch has published work in journals such as the Astrophysical Journal, Astrophysics and Space Science, Astronomical Journal and Science, which is a high-level journal that accepts papers from all different fields within science.
“So a paper that I was a co- author on went into Science about the work we are doing with the camera in Arizona for the Kepler satellite mission that NASA has up right now,” said Horch. “We are hoping to do some ground base imagining for that.”
Horch has also written a chapter entitled “Binaries and Multiple Stellar Systems,” in the new book “Planets, Stars and Stellar Systems,” which is currently in press.
“It was very nice being asked to be the author of one of the chapters,” said Horch. “When you have a big volume like this sometimes the editor will deal out the chapters to different folks.”
Horch earned a bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of Chicago, a Master’s of Science in astronomy at Yale, and a Ph.D. in applied physics at Stanford University in 1994. He has taught at two universities prior to Southern: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Rochester Institute of Technology.
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Monica Szakacs, News Writer: