British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad (BAAO)
The British Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad is a new project that has formed within the BPhO trust. It was launched in 2015 and offers schools across the UK a series of competition papers that focus on astronomy and astrophysics. It is a gateway to competing in the International Olympiad in Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA), allowing students to represent their country and compete with over 40 other nations.
The BOAA is currently targeted at students in Years 12 and 13, however GCSE students can attempt it as well. The competition is syllabus independent, and will assume no prior modules specialising in astronomy have been taken. It is based on core physics applied to the wider universe, with extra details being provided in the questions.
The question papers are set to be stimulating, challenging students to think deeper, whilst at the same time bringing them closer to many of the latest ongoing research topics and discoveries in astronomy. In combination with its dedicated university based training camps, the BOAA provides students with an intriguing path to discovering more about astronomy and astrophysics, and following this through to higher education.
The students are expected to take the Astronomy & Astrophysics A2 Challenge Paper in September/October and are required to take the British Physics Olympiad (Round 1) paper in November. The top students are invited to take the BAAO Competition Paper on 18 January 2016 and the final selection for the five students who will represent the UK to the IOAA will take place at the Easter training camp in Oxford, in April.
Studying the two past BAAO papers available online is strongly recommended. Past papers are available online from here, along with the solutions. Students should attempt at least two or three past papers and then be given the solutions in order to ensure that they know what to expect.