ASTR 1120L & 2030L
INTRODUCTION TO ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS
Professor: Loris Magnani
Office: Physics 238
Web Page: www.physast.uga.edu/~loris follow the link to the ASTR1120L & 2030L page.
Phone: 542-2876 (office), 706-369-1485 (home), 706-207-0714 (cell)
Class: Tuesday 8:00 – 10:45 PM. When we meet in the classroom, the room will be Physics 202; when we use the telescope in the Observatory dome, we will meet right at the telescope on the 4th floor of the Physics Building (use stairway next to room 226).
Office Hours: Monday 3:30 – 5:00 PM or by appointment
Text: No Text Required. If you would like to purchase a nice star atlas for your own use, thereŐs The Cambridge Star Atlas – 3rd Ed., Wil Tirion, that is a good beginnerŐs atlas. But purchasing this atlas is OPTIONAL.
Objective: The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the night sky and to telescope equipped with a CCD camera for making simple astronomical observations. These courses are de-coupled from the ASTR 1010, ASTR 1110H, ASTR 1120H, and ASTR 1020 lecture courses in the sense that 1) they donŐt have to be taken the same semester as the corresponding lecture course and 2) they donŐt necessarily cover the subject matter of the lecture courses. The reason for not covering the subject matter of the corresponding lecture course is that we have to mix material from both the Solar System course and the Stars and Galaxies course throughout the semester depending on what is up in the sky at the time we are doing the labs.
Methodology: I will spend the first 4-5 weeks of the semester training you to use the telescope and CCD camera. The first 3 weeks will be spent on lectures on the celestial sphere and how telescopes work. For safety and to ensure sufficient access to the telescope, I will split you up into groups of 2 or 3. We will do lab 1 (A Gallery of Interesting Objects) together. Once you and your group are trained, you will then to several more labs on your own (I will be downstairs in my office to help you out, if you need it). The more labs you do, the better grade you will get (see below). Which particular labs you do is up to you – with the exception of Lab 2 (Astrometry and the Scale of the Telescope) which is mandatory: Everyone must do Lab 2.
Because we will have at least 5 groups, we will have to break up Tuesday nights into separate 40- or 45-minute slots that each group will sign up for. It is likely you will need more than that time to complete the labs, so, once you are trained on the telescope, you may sign up for time on other nights. There will be a sign-up sheet on my office door. If you sign up, and the weather is clear, it is our obligation to use the time productively. If problems arise on a non-Tuesday night, you may call me at home for further instructions. FOR SAFETY REASONS, IF YOU CHOOSE TO WORK AT THE TELESCOPE ON A NIGHT OTHER THAN OUR ASSIGNED TUESDAY TIME SLOT, THERE MUST BE AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE AT THE TELESCOPE AT ALL TIMES. If I should catch you alone, at the telescope on a night other than Tuesday, you will fail the course.
This course is meant to be a true lab course: Not everything will be spelled out for you in the lab write-ups, and sometimes you will have to use some ingenuity to solve problems or figure out what to do. That is part of what a laboratory course is all about. If you get stuck, please consult with me for how to proceed. I will be there every Tuesday evening, and then there are office hours, e-mail, etc..
Grading: The grading system consists of completing satisfactorily a number of lab assignments. There are a total of 6 lab assignments to choose from (see below). If you do no labs, your grade is an F. If you do 1 lab, your grade is a D. If you do 2 labs, your grade is a C, if you do 3 or 4 labs, your grade is a B. If you do 5 labs, your grade is an A.
Pluses or minuses are given depending on whether you do a poor job, average job, or superior job on each lab depending on the write-up you turn in. Each lab, except for the first one must be accompanied by a write-up. The write-ups may be turned in individually, or as a group.
In addition to the labs there is a Lab Final Exam (given the last two weeks of class – meet at the regular class time in room 202 Physics) which may be used in place of 1 lab. In other words, you may use your Lab Final Exam score to either replace a lab that you didnŐt do well on, or that you didnŐt do at all.
The absolute last day to complete a lab assignment will be Tuesday, December 4th, 2012. No write-ups will be accepted after that date.
The laboratory assignments, and my assessment for how difficult they are, are listed below:
A Gallery of Interesting Objects - Easy
Astrometry and the Scale of the Telescope - Medium
Double Stars – Easy
The Motion of Uranus - Medium
Mass of Jupiter Lab – Medium/Difficult
Find an Asteroid Lab – Difficult
Image Pluto – Very Difficult
You can follow the links on the course main web page to read the write-ups for these labs.
Note that the temperature in the telescope dome is the same as outside (the dome is neither heated, nor cooled). We will be working in cold weather for a good part of the semester. Make sure you have warm clothing. A hat is probably a very good idea, and you should bring a small flashlight, if you have one.