A Practical Introduction to Research
- Class and Office Hours: This class, Astro 376 (Unique 49555), meets Tuesday and Thursdays from 12.30 to 2.00 pm in RLM 15.216B. We will also perform in-class exercises in the newly equipped computer labs (RLM 13.116, 13.128, 13.130) on the 13th floor and you will be informed ahead of time to meet there, as required. The instructor is Professor Shardha Jogee and the teaching assistant (TA) is John Jardel. Please consult us during the office hours listed below if you have any questions and we will be glad to help.
Prof. Shardha Jogee
Wed, 10 am to 11 am or by appointment
Mon, 5 pm to 6 pm or by appointment
- Course Description: Astronomy 376, "A Practical Introduction to Research" aims at equipping undergraduates with skills that are relevant for research projects in astronomy and astrophysics, and thereby facilitate their involvement in the astronomy freshman research initiative, as well as in more advanced research projects in astronomy in their second year and beyond. The course will involve hands-on practical exercises, such as using the Linux operating system, basics of CCD data reduction (using IRAF), visualization and analysis of astronomical data (using IRAF and IDL), statistical analyses, plotting, and programming exercises with IDL, use of LaTeX and AASTeX package for writing papers, and training for oral presentations.
Many of the skills you will learn are pre-requisites for research projects with the Astronomy Faculty and Staff. In fact some of these skills (e.g., knowledge of IRAF, IDL programming, basic CCD data reduction, visualization and analysis of astronomical data, statistical analyses, Latex etc) will be useful well beyond research in your undergraduate years e.g., during graduate school in astronomy or astrophysics, as well as jobs in industry, national observatories, space science centers, etc.
This course counts as an upper division course It is designed primarily for majors in astronomy or anyone who plans to get involved in a research project in astronomy and astrophysics. While the course can be taken by advanced students, we will give first priority to undergraduate majors in Astronomy and Physics, who are in their Freshman and Sophomore years so that such students are well prepared to tackle challenging research projects and make rapid progress on them during their next two to three years at UT.
Prerequisite: Mathematics 305G or the equivalent or consent of instructor; high school trigonometry and physics are recommended. Prior computing experience and an introductory astronomy course, such as AST 307, are recommended, but not required. However it is your responsibility to develop the required background knowledge for each lecture by studying the background pre-requisite reading, which we will provide.
There is no single textbook that covers the wide variety of topics, which this course will span. We strongly recommend that you get "Practical IDL programming" by Liam E. Gumley (available at the Co-op bookshop): this will be a key reference guide for you on IDL exercises during this class and well beyond. In addition, we will provide our own tailor-made tutorials and online background reading material, which will be posted on this website under "Selected Material from Lectures & Assignments "
- Textbook and Reading
The course calendar provides an approximate sequencing of topics to be covered in class. The online calendar will be regularly updated, as needed. Note that as outlined in the Memo to Undergraduate Astronomy Students regarding Astronomy Courses , the professor is a professional astronomer who has research responsibilities and may be occasionally on travel in order to conduct research, present colloquia, and attend scientific meetings. In such cases, there may be a schedule change and an appropriate replacement lecture or other assignment will be scheduled.
- Course Calendar
Your grades will be posted online on eGradebook. It is essential that you attend class as there will be a large number of in-class assignments. The final grade will consist of eGradebook;
- Course Grade
70% Homeworks and ProjectsThere will be no exams. When converting your final numerical grades to letter grades, I will use the scheme below or one that is slightly more lenient:
30% In-class activities
A= 85% to 100%
B= 75% to 84%
C= 60% to 74%
D= 50% to 59%
F= 0% to 49%
1) You will be given 24 hr access to the computer labs (RLM 13.116, 13.128, 13.130) for this class. Due to previous crime-related incidents in the RLM building the doors to the lab should remain closed when you are working in them.Under no circumstances, should the door be left open, even if someone is "just running out for a moment."
- Class Policies
2) You will be given after hours access to the RLM building for this class. However, due to previous crime-related incidents in the RLM building, we strongly recommend that you try to use RLM only during the official open hours (6:30 am to 11:00 pm on Monday to Thursday; 6:00 am to 10:00 pm on Friday; 6:30 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday; 2:00 pm to 11:00 pm on Sunday). If you have to use RLM after hours, please make sure to be in a group of two or more.
(3) Late homeworks will be accepted only if you have been granted an extension prior to the due date and will receive only partial credit.
(4) We will accept requests for correction or re-grade of an assignment (homework, exam or quiz), at latest two weeks after it is handed back to you.
(5) Plagiarism: Scholastic dishonesty, in particular any plagiarism, will be prosecuted in accordance with the university guidelines. In simplest terms, plagiarism occurs if you represent as your own work any material that was obtained from another source, regardless how or where you acquired it. Please read the on what constitutes plagiarism in its various forms. In particular, have a careful look at "paraphrasing".
(6) Cheating: You are encouraged to study with other students, but you must write up your own homework, exams, and quizzes. Cheating will be severely punished: if you copy someone's homework/quiz/exam or let someone copy yours, both of you will receive zero credit, and I will consider filing a report to the Dean of Students.
7) Religious holidays: University policy is to respect religious holidays. If you have to miss a lecture or exam because of a religious holiday, you will not be penalized. But you need to tell us ahead of time.
(8) Disabilities: Students with disabilities may request appropriate academic accommodations from the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, Services for Students with Disabilities (phone = 512-471-6259).
- Materials on web page have been updated on Nov 23, 2009 at 10 am The due date for homework 4 has been moved to Th Dec 3, at 12.30. Please use the updated version of homework4 and of "list2.himass.txt" posted on Nov 23 at 10 am under
Selected Material from Lectures/Assignments
- Please remenber to bring your IRAF, Linux and Emacs tutorials to class as you will need them for more advanced in-class assignments.
You will find below, mostly in pdf format, selected parts of the lecture, such as figures and plots. The main notes, explanations, and demos will be covered only in class where in-class quiz/activities will count toward the final grade.
- IRAF Exercise 2: Basic CCD Reduction & Relative Photometry : You will work with images taken on 82-inch at McDonald Observatory. You will carry out basic CCD data reduction and apply bias, dark, and flat field corrections, in order to remove instrumental effects. Then you will perform relative differential photometry to produce a light curve of a variable white dwarf star.
- Solution set for IRAF Exercise 2: Basic CCD Reduction & Relative Photometry -- Text answers ; dark.png ; badpix.png ; flat.png ; light curve
- Homework 2: Dissecting Galaxies Along the Hubble Sequence with IRAF . You will characterize the bulge, bar, spiral arms and outer disk of spiral galaxies. You will make a zeroth order estimation of the bulge-to-disk (B/D) luminosity ratio, which astronomers have used for decades to classify galaxies along the Hubble sequence. You will characterize the steeply declining surface brightness profile (called a de Vaucouleurs profile) of ellipticals, which is believed to result from certain types of major mergers of spirals.
- Guest lecture on Oct 14/2009 by Dr. Hemenway on Education and Public Outreach opportunities and the International Year of Astronomy (IYA).
- Solution set for Homework 3: Answers for parts 1 to 8 ; IDL program hwk3-sol.pro ; plot1.ps ; plot2.ps ; plot3.ps ; list.highest-sfr.a376.txt ; list.massive.a376.txt ;
- The due date for homework 4 has been moved to Th Dec 3, at 12.30. Please use the updated version of homework4 and of "list2.himass.txt" posted below on Nov 23 at 10 am. Homework4 : Using IDL and GCET to Explore Extreme Systems At Early Epochs! , with accompanying files : list2.himass.txt and list2.hisfr.txt
- Original table from RC2 on how to convert coded revised Hubble types in RC3
- Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies (Halton Arp, 1966; Images and data on 338 peculiar galaxies).