Syllabus

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AST 152M - STELLAR ASTRONOMY LABORATORY - FALL 2014

COURSE ID 48595 SYLLABUS

2 SEPT 2014

Teaching Assistant:

Brian Mulligan

Email:

bwmulligan@astro.as.utexas.edu [preferred contact method]

Cell phone:

Office phone:

Lab meeting:

M 6-8

Lab room:

RLM 15.201

Office Hours:

TTh 2-3, or by appt

Course web page:

http://www.as.utexas.edu/astronomy/education/fall14/dinerstein/152m.html

Canvas:

http://canvas.utexas.edu

Textbook:

None

Prerequisites:

None

Suggested courses:

concurrent or prior enrollment AST 352K is recommended.

1. OVERVIEW

This lab course is a hands-on introduction to observational astronomy with use of a visual light telescope and detectors. No previous experience in astronomy is required. Physics 316 and 116L are prerequisites to this class. It is recommended that you have taken or are concurrently enrolled in AST 352K (Stellar Astronomy). Over the course of the semester you will learn how to operate a modern telescope and instrumentation system (e.g. CCD camera) and how to do astronomical data reduction and analysis using software packages such as IRAF. Other skills which will be emphasized in this course are error analysis (as a part of data analysis) and lab report writing. You are strongly encouraged to use LATEX for writing reports.

2. TEXTBOOK / WRITTEN MATERIALS / LABS

There is no official textbook for this course. The individual labs will be given out over the course of the semester and will be available from the website. Some required reading will be taken from important books. Copies of the required reading will be given out in class and be available on the course website.

If you wish to pursue a career in astronomical instrumentation and/or observational astronomy, some useful books are

3. RLM 16" TELESCOPE

For this course we will make use of the RLM telescope located on the roof of the building. During the beginning of the semester you will learn how to use the facilities and equipment. Once you have demonstrated proficiency with the equipment, you will have full access to the telescope. Be aware the telescope is used for public observing on Wednesday evenings, and so it not available for scientific use on these nights. There may be other occasions in which the telescope is not available due to special groups (unlikely) or hardware problems (likely). We will do our best to schedule observing around these events.

4. TIME COMMITMENT

Because this course focuses on observational astronomy, the time commitment will not be a weekly 1-2 hour meeting. The later labs require the students to take their own data using the observing facilities; this usually means a late night at the telescope. Weather, hardware, and software problems will hamper progress, so plan accordingly (do not expect that a single night will be sucient). The deadlines for observational labs are intended to allow enough time for all student groups to gather data. Expect to spend 2-4 hours at the telescope about 3-4 times over the course of the semester. The time domain photometry lab will require a more time on the telescope. Data reduction and analysis typically takes the most time. We will have dedicated lab time each week for this component. Whether or not you attend the lab time, expect to spend about 2 hours per week on data reduction and analysis. Expect to spend a couple hours on writing the lab reports.

5. IRAF / PyRAF / ALTERNATIVES

IRAF is a common software package of choice for astronomical data processing. This package is freely available at http://iraf.noao.edu/. This software works on Mac and linux, but seemingly can be run on Windows as well (http://acs.pha.jhu.edu/~shy/x-iraf-windows/). Departmental computers that have IRAF installed will be available to students during the semester. You are welcome to install IRAF on a personal laptop or computer as well.

An alternative to IRAF which uses the Python language is PyRAF (http://www.stsci.edu/institute/software_hardware/pyraf). Students are free to use PyRAF instead of IRAF.

IDL is another alternative to IRAF. It is a proprietary (read `expensive') software package / language that is similar to Python in its capabilities. IDL is available on most departmental computers for use. Many analysis and reduction routines are available in IDL. Contact me if you wish to use IDL.

Finally, code can be written in C, c++, or FORTRAN to do all data analysis and reduction. While the data processing for these languages will be much faster, writing the programs will take more time. Some packages are available to help read the FITS files (http://fits.gsfc.nasa.gov/fits_libraries.html). Contact me if you wish to use your own compiled code.

As IRAF is a standard within the field (and PyRAF likely to be the future standard), you are strongly encouraged to use one of these packages.

6. COMPUTER ACCESS

Use of computers is absolutely required for this course. Computers in room RLM 15.201 are available for student use during the semester. During the first week of class we will work with the computer group in the department to grant all enrolled students access to the room as well as a login for the computers. Note that room access is tied to your University issued ID card.

The computer room is available most of the time for student use; the room is also used for other classes, so be sure to check the schedule and not walk in on a class. A schedule is posted on the door of the classroom. Students in the other classes will also be using the computers outside of class time (as you will be). Be respectful of other students and classes!

7. GROUPS AND PARTICIPATION

Students will work in groups of 3 or 4 students for purposes of data gathering. The students in each group will share data and may (and are encouraged to) communicate freely about their work. All data reduction, analysis, and graded assignments (e.g. worksheets, lab reports) must be individual work. Groups will be formed during the first two weeks of class. I will assign groups, but will also take requests for group members such that you may work with friends. I will attempt to include someone with prior observing and/or astronomical data analysis experience in each group.

All students are expected to contribute to their groups work, and to be at all observing sessions. Your final grade will include a participation credit worth 1/6 (16.6%) of the course grade. You will not be penalized for missing a single night of observing, but missing multiple nights will result in a reduction of your participation grade.

8. LAB REPORTS

Papers and lab reports are the fundamental form of communication in the scientific community. For the first couple of full labs, we will work on developing individual sections of the lab report. A full lab report will be due for the final two labs. We will also work on developing sections of a lab report in labs 3 and 4.

Because of its use in astronomy, physics, and mathematics, you are strongly encouraged to use LATEX (or TEX ) in preparing your lab reports. LATEX is a document preparation system (http://www.latex-project. org/) that is available for nearly every operating system. There is no one particular editor, and users may have individual preferences between how to do the editing. Some popular versions are TeX Live (http://www.tug.org/texlive/) for linux, proTeXt (http://www.tug.org/protext/) for Windows, and MacTeX (http://www.tug.org/mactex/) for Mac.

If you prefer to use Microsoft Word or another word processing system (e.g. LibreOffice) please contact me. If you use one of these systems and send me lab reports by email, you must first convert the document to a PDF.

A rubric for grading the lab reports will be provided before the first lab in which a report is required. You will receive 50 points (equivalent to D-) for turning in a lab which meets minimal requirements.

9. GRADING

There will be 6 labs total. Each lab will be 100 points, but the lowest lab score will be dropped. There is also 100 points for participation.

Lab

Activity

Points


Lab 1

Worksheet

100 Points

Lab 2

Worksheet

100 Points

Lab 3

Methods writeup and Worksheet

100 Points

Lab 4

Results / analysis writeup and worksheet

100 Points

Lab 5

Lab report

100 Points

Lab 6

Lab report

100 Points

-

Participation

100 Points

+/- grading will be used in this class. The breakdown will be as follows:

Grade

% Range

Point Range

A

A-

B+

B

B-

C+

C

C-

D+

D

D-

F

85.00 - 100.00

81.00 - 84.99

77.00 - 80.99

73.00 - 76.99

70.00 - 72.99

66.00 - 69.99

63.00 - 65.99

60.00 - 62.99

56.00 - 59.99

53.00 - 55.99

50.00 - 52.99

00.00 - 49.99

510 - 600

486 - 509

462 - 485

438 - 461

420 - 437

396 - 419

378 - 395

360 - 377

336 - 359

318 - 335

300 - 317

000 - 299

If you are taking the class as pass/fail, a D- or better is considered a passing grade. If we are unable to complete all labs due to weather or hardware problems, the point totals will be scaled to re ect the number of labs that we were able to complete.

10. LAB 6 OPTIONS AND EXTRA CREDIT

Lab 6 will consist of one of three labs: (1) time domain photometry, (2) spectroscopy, or (3) cluster photometry. Because each group will only do one of these, the other labs shall serve as extra credit. The extra credit lab report(s) are due by the Dec 6 and are worth a full lab (100 points).

11. LAB MAKE UP

Inevitably problems will come up for someone during the semester. In general, you are expected to be with your group during all data taking activities at the telescope. In the event of extended and documented illness or other emergency you may rely on your group to take data for you for one lab. If the issue persists long enough that you miss more than one lab, contact me and we will arrange for alternatives.

For general, documented, illnesses and emergencies I will allow extra time for doing / making up labs; you must contact me two days before the deadline for these circumstances, although exceptions will be made for truly last minute emergencies.

12. INCOMPLETE GRADES

If you are unable to complete the course due to "compelling, nonacademic circumstances beyond a student's control" you may receive an incomplete. In order to be eligible for an incomplete you must have a 'D-' average or better in the course to date. If you receive an incomplete you are expected to do all missing labs on your own in the following academic semester.

13. EMAIL

When emailing me please include "AST 152M" in the subject line. Do not expect an immediate response - I will respond to emails within 2 business days.

I will accept all lab reports and other worksheets via email.

14. TELEPHONE CONTACT

My cell phone number is provided for emergency use regarding the telescope facilities (such as equipment failure). I will do my best to have my phone on and be available to take calls anytime a group is known to be at the telescope. During the rst week of class I would like to receive contact phone numbers for all students (or at least one for each student group) so that the phone numbers appear in my contact list. Student privacy is taken seriously, and your contact phone number will not be given out to anyone for any reason. It will be deleted from my phone at the end of the semester. I ask that my phone number be similarly deleted from your contact list(s).

15. CANVAS

I will use Canvas to post grades, lab information, and to communicate with you outside of class. If you wish to post lab reports and worksheets electronically, it may be done on Canvas. Canvas may also be used for scheduling of the telescope

16. COURSE WEBSITE

The course website will be used to post lab information as well as practice or additional data sets used in some labs.

17. RELIGIOUS HOLY DAYS

In general, you should be able to schedule your observing time and reporting deadlines to avoid conflicts with religious observances. If you are unable to do so, please contact me at as soon as possible (least one week) before a conflict arises.

18. STUDENT CONDUCT AND ACADEMIC DISHONESTY

Each student is expected to do and present their own work and be respectful to other students in the class. Bullying, plagiarism, cheating, and falsifying data will not be tolerated. Students are expected to behave in a professional manner within the classrooms (including the telescope dome and operations room), and to not disrupt the learning of other students. The codes for student conduct, academic integrity, and plagiarism can be found at http://deanofstudents.utexas.edu/sjs/acint_student.php. All incidents of academic dishonesty will be brought to the attention of the appropriate Dean's Office and may be subject to academic penalties commensurate with the severity of the o ense.

19. SPECIAL NEEDS AND DISABILITIES

It is University policy to provide reasonable accommodations to students who have documented disability or special needs conditions which may affect their ability to participate in course activities or to meet course requirements. Students with disabilities or special needs should contact Services for Students with Disabilities (http://ddce.utexas.edu/disability)(located in the student services building (SSB) on Dean Keaton St.) as well as myself to arrange for appropriate accommodations.

The RLM telescope and rooftop are not wheelchair accessible (there is only a somewhat steep flight of stairs that provide access to the roof). If you are unable to access the telescope, please contact me so that we may discuss options.

20. EMERGENCIES IN THE CLASSROOM / DOME

20.1. Evacuation. If it is clearly safe to leave the building, evacuation should proceed via the nearest stairwell (westernmost stairs from the roof, eastern stairway if in the computer lab, either stairway if in the classroom). If it is not safe to leave, the doors of the classroom or dome and roof should be closed and locked. Contact the police via 911 or 471-4441 to inform them of your location and status. In the event of a building or campus emergency such as a fire or other evacuation event: the stairs in RLM should be used as soon as it is possible and safe. The nearest stairs to the computer lab are located across the hall, just west of the elevators. If those stairs are unusable there are stairs located at the far (westernmost) end of each fork of the oce hallways. The rooftop is considered a safe evacuation area; from the 15th floor it is recommended that you go to ground level if possible, but the rooftop may be used as a backup. If you are in the dome you may remain on the rooftop or take the stairs to the ground level, depending on circumstances. The stairs at the west end of the building are the only ones accessible from the dome area. Finally, from the astronomy classroom (RLM 15.216b), the closest stairs are located at the (westernmost) end of the hallway.

In general, if you are unable to use the stairs, contact me within the first week of class to make a contingency plan.

Shelter in place: If in the computer classroom, the students should remain in the classroom if possible. The Evans conference room can act as a backup to this (the Evans conference room has no windows). Regardless of which room is used, the hallway doors of the computer classroom and Evans lounge should be closed (both lock automatically). The door between the computer classroom and Evans conference room should also be closed. If students are at the telescope, the rooftop and the dome door should be closed, and the students remain in the telescope control room. If we are meeting in the astronomy classroom (RLM 15.216b) the doors should be closed and we will stay in that classroom.

21. DUE DATES

Tentative due dates are listed in the schedule below. Lab reports are due by Friday at 5 p.m. central time in their respective week. 20 points per 24 hours will be deducted for labs turned in after the deadline; e.g. turned in 7 p.m. Friday or 3 p.m Saturday results in a loss of 20 points, turned in at noon Sunday results in 40 point deduction, etc. A very short grace period will be allowed within a few minutes (less than 15 minutes) around 5 p.m., allowing for email speed, etc. The grace period may be revoked for individuals who abuse it. The only exception to this is the nal lab; the due date is Dec 6, but I will not deduct points until Dec 13 at 5 pm.

If my email (bwmulligan@astro.as.utexas.edu) is down on Friday or the weekend the deadline will be extended to account for this. [Note that there is a record of email outages that I can check against]. There will be no extensions given for problems with your personal email.

Labs are accepted by email, Canvas, or in person; if I am not in my office you may place them on my desk or slide them through the mail slot on the door.

22. LIST OF LABS AND ACTIVITIES

Lab #

Title

Description

1

Position & Time

Introduction to the positional astronomy and measurements of time, and sunrise and sunset times

2

Planning an observing night

Scheduling observations based on time of day and telescope limitations

3

IRAF / CCDs

Introduction to data processing and practical use of CCD cameras

4

Astrometry

Measuring the position of an object on the sky

5

Photometry

Measuring the brightness (apparent magnitude) of a stellar object

6a

Time domain photometry

Measuring how the brightness of a variable object changes

6b

Spectroscopy

Measuring the spectrum of an object

6c

Open cluster photometry

Developing a color-magnitude diagram of a star cluster.

23. APPROXIMATE SCHEDULE

Week

Observing

Analysis

Lab Due (Date)

Other

Aug 31 - Sept 6

 

1

 

Add / drop date [no permission required]: Sept 2.

Sept 7 - Sept 13

 

1

1 (Sept 12)

Drop date with full refund: Sept 12.

Sept 14 - Sept 20

3/4

2

 

 

Sept 21 - Sept 27

3/4

2

2 (Sep 26)

 

Sept 28 - Oct 4

4/5

3

 

 

Oct 5 - Oct 11

4/5

3

 

 

Oct 12 - Oct 18

5/6

4

3 (Oct 18)

 

Oct 19 - Oct 25

5/6

4

 

Grading method change: Oct 22.

Oct 26 - Nov 1

6

5

4 (Oct 31)

 

Nov 2 - Nov 8

6

5

 

Withdrawal or drop deadline: Nov 4.

Nov 9 - 15

6

6

5 (Nov 14)

 

Nov 16 - Nov 22

6

6

 

 

Nov 23 - Nov 29

6

-

 

Thanksgiving

Nov 30 - Dec 6

6

6

6, extra credit (Dec 5)

Last official class day: Dec 5.

The above dates give you two weeks for observations and two weeks for data processing. This is a guideline and is not a strict schedule. If you have all necessary data for a lab after the first week of observing, you are encouraged to take data for the next lab on your next available observing date. The labs will be posted on the course web site and canvas well in advance of the suggested start date.

24. DISCLAIMER

I reserve the right to change the information on this syllabus during the course of the semester. Students will be notified of changes as they occur.