|AST 351 · Astronomical Instrumentation
2.3 Segments and Segment Groups
The curriculum for this class has been divided into four segments. Each segment covers an important aspect
of instrument design and construction: mechanical design and fabrication, electronics and circuit design, optics
and optical design, and computer interfacing and software design. The segments will consist of a reading assignment,
a set of problems, some hands-on skill learning tasks and a laboratory excercise.
The class will be divided into segment groups. Each group will rotate through the segments in
succession. Groups will have 3 weeks to complete each segment. You will do most of the activities as a group.
2.4. Projects and Project Teams
A major aspect of this course will be the use of what you are learning to design and construct a working
instrument. The instrument project for this year's class will consist of designing and building an optical spectrograph. This instrument
will have a solid-state optical detector and operate under computer control. It should be able to take
wavelength-calibrated spectra of bright emission-line sources (lamps).
You will carry out the project as a member of a project team. Each team will be responsible for
planning, designing, and building its own instrument. The members of your team will all come from
different segment groups so that your team quickly collects all of the skills needed to carry out the project.
2.5. Assignments and Deadlines
Each segment will have a reading assignment, a set of paper exercises, a piece of software to learn to use, a
practical exercise, and an evaluation/debrief. Because other groups will need access to the hardware,
your group must complete each section within the allotted time. The evaluations should be done individually
and handed in to the instructor. You should work out the paper exercises or problem sets on your own. You
may then consult with your group about the answers. Each student must hand in his or her own writeup of the problems.
Problem sets will be due at the end of each segment (note that, for the computer
interfacing segment, you will need to demo your knowledge rather than doing a problem set).
team will have a preliminary review of their design and a final review of the project. At these meetings, each of you will make
a presentation on your part of the project, but will be expected to be knowledgeable and participate in discussions about all
aspects of the project. The final presentation will be followed by short oral exams in which you will be asked about all aspects of the
2.6. Class Meetings
The class will meet every TTh at 2-3:30. Segment groups will meet on Tuesdays, either to start a new segment or to work on
the current one. The professor and TA will be available to answer questions. Typically there will be a lecture for part of the class
time on Thursdays on some aspect of astronomical instrumentation. The remainder of the Thursday class time will be available
for segment or project work. In addition, each group and team will meet with the instructor one hour per week to discuss their
current segment or their project. Attendance at class, group, and team meetings is a course requirement.