Observational Astronomy (308)

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These notes are brief summaries and links for the in-class content for the Monday class meetings of the Fall Semester 2019.


Week 1 (August 19)

Week 2 (August 26)

  • What we observe
    • Position and celestial coordinates
    • Flux and magnitude
  • What we infer
    • Distance
    • Size
    • Luminosity
    • Composition
    • Evolution
  • Useful tools for access to data


Week 3 (September 2)

  • Labor Day holiday


Week 4 (September 9)

  • Telescopes
    • Basic concepts of optical telescope design
    • Light gathering function
    • Focal plane scale
    • Angular resolution and point spread function
    • Detectors and filters
  • Visit to the Planetarium
    • Solar projection telescope
    • Solar imaging in hydrogen alpha light


Week 5 (September 16)

  • Telescopes continued from last week as needed


Week 6 (September 23)

  • Clear weather tonight possible (Monday) and the coming weekend
  • Roundtable discussion about project ideas (bring your own) such as
    • Jupiter imaging (must be done soon)
    • Bright star photometry (examples are some TESS candidates and zeta Andromedae now)
    • Use of latest CMOS color sensors for photometry
    • Other TESS candidates (TESS is currently observing the northern sky)
    • Variable stars in the TESS public data
    • Comets http://www.aerith.net/comet/weekly/current.html
    • Supernovae http://www.rochesterastronomy.org/supernova.html
    • Anything in Orion (visible after midnight now)
    • Geosynchronous (GEO) satellites (where, when, optical variability)
    • Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites (wide field camera, untracked)
    • Near-Earth objects
    • Mercury transit on November 11 (with an exoplanet transit at night backup)
    • Other selected targets in either hemisphere, your choice

To continue this week and next as time allows


Week 7 (September 30)

  • Continued discussion of research and optical astronomy data


Week 8 (October 7)

  • Fall break


Week 9 (October 14)

  • Final organization of research topics
  • Exoplanet transit photometry of a TESS candidate


Week 10 (October 21)

  • Stellar spectra
  • Radial velocities