Dr. Stephen Pompea
Observatory Scientist at NSF NOIRLab
SPIE Involvement:
Author | Instructor
Area of Expertise:
Optics and Photonics Education , Analysis of Optical Systems , Optical Engineering Education , Optical Materials
Profile Summary

Stephen Pompea was named as the first Observatory Scientist for the U.S. National Astronomy Observatory, NSF NOIRLab, in 2014 and obtained emeritus status in 2020.

He developed space instruments and led the development group for new optical materials for Martin Marietta Denver Aerospace. He is the lead author for the chapter on black surfaces in the Handbook of Optics and has consulted widely in this area. He served as instrument scientist for the NASA NICMOS instrument for the Hubble Space Telescope at the University of Arizona, and as infrared instrument scientist for Gemini 8-meter telescopes project.

He did his undergraduate work in physics, space physics, and astronomy at Rice University, his Master’s work in physics teaching at Colorado State University, and his Ph.D. in astronomy at the University of Arizona.

He has been PI or Co-I on many national science education projects in the areas of instructional materials development, public programs, informal science education, teacher and student research, and teacher professional development. In 2011 Dr. Pompea was awarded the Esther Hoffman Beller Medal from the Optical Society of America for his contributions to optical sciences education and especially for his work in creating the Galileoscope student telescope kit. He is a Fellow of SPIE and the Optical Society of America. He is also the recent recipient of the Robert A. Millikan Medal from the American Association of Physics Teachers.

He is the author, coauthor, or editor of 15 books, over 150 papers, and has given over 400 presentations at professional conferences. Pompea is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Arizona with previous adjunct appointments at Colorado State University and the University of Arkansas. He is currently a Visiting Professor at Leiden Observatory, The Netherlands.
Publications (51)

Proceedings Article | 10 July 2018 Paper
Proceedings Volume 10705, 1070528 (2018) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2314370
KEYWORDS: Stray light, Software development, Sensors, Systems modeling, Stars, Ray tracing, Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, Telescopes, Stray light analysis, Observatories

Proceedings Article | 16 August 2017 Open Access Paper
Stephen Pompea, Nancy Regens
Proceedings Volume 10452, 104526Q (2017) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2270021
KEYWORDS: Photonics, Visualization

Proceedings Article | 16 August 2017 Open Access Paper
Stephen Pompea, Constance Walker
Proceedings Volume 10452, 104526R (2017) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2270022
KEYWORDS: Illumination engineering, Light sources and illumination, Astronomical imaging, Astronomy

Proceedings Article | 27 September 2016 Open Access Presentation + Paper
Constance Walker, Stephen Pompea
Proceedings Volume 9946, 99460Q (2016) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2248490
KEYWORDS: Light sources and illumination, Pollution, Video, Astronomy, Observatories, Astronomical imaging, Safety, Buildings, Observational astronomy, Carbon

Proceedings Article | 8 October 2015 Open Access Paper
Stephen Pompea, Laura Carsten-Conner
Proceedings Volume 9793, 97932U (2015) https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2223238
KEYWORDS: Astronomy, Astronomical imaging, Spectrometers, Observatories, Digital cameras, Scanning transmission electron microscopy, Electromagnetism, Optics education, Biology, Observational astronomy

Showing 5 of 51 publications
Proceedings Volume Editor (2)

Conference Committee Involvement (4)
SPIE Eco-Photonics 2011: Sustainable Design, Manufacturing, and Engineering Workforce Education for a Green Future
28 March 2011 | Strasbourg, France
Education for a Sustainable Engineering Workforce for a Green Future
28 March 2011 | Strasbourg, France
Stray Light and System Optimization: Theory, Surface Spectral Characteristics, and Techniques
7 August 1996 | Denver, CO, United States
Optical System Contamination V and Stray Light and System Optimization
5 August 1996 | Denver, CO, United States
Course Instructor
WS1002: The Galileoscope: Bringing Telescope Optics Down To Earth
This course is designed for scientists and engineers who want to share astronomy and optics in a fun and engaging manner in schools or in after school settings. You will learn how to teach optics using the Galileoscope, a high quality low-cost telescope designed for educational outreach. The Galileoscope was developed by a team of astronomers, optical engineers, and science educators during the International Year of Astronomy 2009 and was named as a "Gear of the Year" by amateur astronomers and has been nominated for an international education prize. The Galileoscope can be used as an optical bench to explore the optics of lenses as well as showing the wonders of the universe including craters on the Moon, the phases of Venus, the Galilean Moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn. Each participant will receive a Galileoscope and standards-based teaching materials. But the main outcome is to have fun building and using a Galileoscope.
NON-SPIE: Spectrally Selective Surfaces for Optical Systems
This course presents a practical overview of surfaces currently available for stray light or thermal control. It also covers white surfaces and blackbody surfaces for instrument calibration. It give a detailed look at the selection process, the optical characterization of surfaces using scatter and non-scatter measurements, terrestrial and space environmental effects on spectrally selective surfaces, special surfaces for ultraviolet and far infrared applications, and inexpensive surfaces for commercial systems.
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