A Bartlesville teenager is skyrocketing her way in the astronomy world.
Abigail Bollenbach is being recognized for achievements as one of the MARS Generation 24 under 24 leaders.
“It was an amazing feeling. It was really uplifting, and I just felt really honored and I am so grateful,” said Bollenbach.
Bollenbach, 17, says she was 10 years old when she saw this deep field Hubble image and knew she wanted to learn more about space.
"They took this little piece of the sky and there were like 10,000 galaxies in it, and it totally inspired me and I knew that's what I wanted to do," said Bollenbach.
Bollenbach was recently recognized by the MARS Generation for her research.
Every year the organization honors 24 students internationally who are making a difference in STEAM and space-related fields.
Abby believes having this award under her belt will continue to open doors for her moving forward.
"All opportunities open more doors so I am just so thankful and hopefully will just continue paving my way doing fun space related things," said Bollenbach.
One of the projects that helped get Bollenbach noticed for this award was collecting 10,000 solar eclipse glasses, along with the youth astronomy club she is a part of in Bartlesville, for people in South America to view the solar eclipse safely.
“We had to figure out which ones were good and which ones weren't because there’s scammers out there that make fakes and it's really dangerous,” said Bollenbach. “We sorted through them and sent them to astronomers without borders, and they sent them to people in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.”
Bollenbach says she had the chance to see the total solar eclipse last year in Missouri and hopes this experience will be as amazing for them as it was for her.
“It was breathtaking,” said Bollenbach.
Bollenbach recently filed a patent for gamma-ray shielding to make space travel less harmful to biological entities titled “Quantum Locked Fluxing Shielding” and hopes to work as an astrophysicist someday.
“I want to go to college and then someday I hope to work for NASA or a private company doing space-related research,” said Bollenbach.
In her free time Bollenbach also plays piano and used to be a ballerina.
She says one day she hopes kids will look up to her and want to study science, like she looked up to the older ballerinas.
“I just looked up to them. I thought they were the biggest stars, and I wanted to be them one day. I know that if I make a good example and spread the love that I have for astronomy then I am sure it’s going to spark so many souls,” said Bollenbach.
And ultimately, Abby hopes her determination will help pave the way for women in astronomy.
"It's kind of a man's world so to speak out there so to kind of push and head butt and open doors being a 17-year-old girl is kind of intimidating so having some success under my belt is a little grounding and it kind of keeps me going," said Bollenbach.
Bollenbach is going to be producing a planetarium show for the Jenks Planetarium this summer.
She says she is going to convert her Cassini Huygen's Mission to Saturn lecture that she delivered there last month to the Tulsa Astronomy Club into a program that can be shared with other planetariums.
She is also volunteering for the Bartleville Library this summer to help with their space related theme, “A Universe of Stories.”