Office: RLM 17.220
Phone: (512) 471-3425
Welcome to the Stellar Astronomy Lab. Concurrent enrollment in AST 352K is strongly recommended. This lab
course is designed to give students hands-on experience in the acquisition and analysis of astronomical data,
while AST 352K emphasizes the physics of astronomical phenomena. We will focus on observations made with a
16" telescope located on the roof of RLM. Students will learn how to operate the telescope using the computerized
control system to locate astronomical objects. Images will be acquired digitally by the students using a
Charge-Couple Device (CCD) in the dome. Students will use current astronomical image processing software on the
computers in the undergraduate computer lab (RLM 13th floor) to analyze their data from the telescope.
We will need to meet as a class from time to time. This will be a time for short lectures, discussion of material and
labs, and distribution of hand-outs. As a class we will choose a time that is best for everyone and I will let you know
at least a week in advance if we will meet the following week. Although the meetings may not be regular, they are still
class time and as such should not be missed without a valid excuse.
Learning to work well with each other is a very useful skill that you will certainly draw upon throughout your academic
career and beyond. To cultivate this, much of the work you will do for this course will be in groups. Groups of 4 or 5 will be
assigned based on the results of a questionnaire I will circulate on the first day.
Everyone must attend the telescope orientation session before they will be allowed to use the equipment.
This will be scheduled sometime during the second week of classes. Because the observations require clear
weather, students are expected to be flexible in their time spent at the telescope and should recognize that
observations may need to be made at unusual hours. Once the groups have been organized, each group can
sign up for time on the telescope each week. Only one prime time slot (before 11 pm on any night) per week
per group can be booked in advance. Unless a special announcement is made, the telescope will be available
every night except Wednesday nights before 10pm.