astr 3005 3006 observational astronomy
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Astr 3005/3006 Observational Astronomy. Instructor: Dr. Spencer Buckner Office: SSC B-326 Office Hours: MWF 10:15am – 12:15pm and MWThF 2:30 – 4:30pm or by appointment Class Meeting Time: Monday 6:35 – 10:20pm Lecture: 6:35 – 7:30pm Lab: 7:40 – 10:20pm. Textbooks.

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astr 3005 3006 observational astronomy

Astr 3005/3006Observational Astronomy

Instructor: Dr. Spencer Buckner

Office: SSC B-326

Office Hours: MWF 10:15am – 12:15pm and MWThF 2:30 – 4:30pm

or by appointment

Class Meeting Time: Monday 6:35 – 10:20pm Lecture: 6:35 – 7:30pm Lab: 7:40 – 10:20pm


Observational Astronomy 2nd Edition

by D. Scott Birney, Guillermo Gonzalez and Davis Oesper

Additional book for your reference: The Observers Year 2nd Edition by Patrick Moore

constellations test
Constellations Test

During the semester you will be required to learn the locations of 25 constellations and 30 named stars in the planetarium. The planetarium test is an up or down test, no partial credit. The last day to take the test is Thursday December 13.

observing log

You will be require to keep a logbook of your observations. The logbook will be collected three times during the semester and at the end of the semester. It will be graded for completeness and number of entries. You should have entries for each observing lab as well as any observations you make outside of class

Observing Log
  • Every log entry should include
    • Date, time and location of observation
    • Sky seeing conditions
    • Instrument used (including focal length or f/ratio)
    • Magnification and eyepieces used
    • Description of the objects observed
observing labs

There will be at least five observing labs during the semester. Some of the labs will be completed in a single night while others may take observations over several weeks to complete. Each observing lab will require a formal write-up and at least one lab will require a short oral presentation to the class. Not everyone will present the same lab. We will “draw straws” for the order of presentation. The presentation should be 7 to 10 minutes long and will be presented on the Monday the lab write-up is turned in.

First Lab: Telescopic Observations of the Moon Multiple night lab…observations over the next four weeks. Lab write-up will be due September 24

Observing Labs

Homework will be assigned from the Review Questions at the back of each chapter. They will be due on the Monday following the completion of the chapter. Additional problems from other sources may also be assigned to supplement the back-of-chapter questions.

First Homework set is due Monday September 10.

Chapter 1 # 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6

Answer in complete sentences, where appropriate. Show your calculation on #6


The first project is to observe and properly log at least 45 Messier objects. The observations can be done during regular observing lab nights or on your own. Some of the objects can be observed with binoculars while others will require a telescope. You will be requires to give a short (7 – 10 minutes) oral presentation on either this project or the second project during the final exam period Monday December 10. A list of other projects will be distributed within the first few weeks of class.

observing nights

Part of the requirements for the introductory astronomy classes is to attend a 1st Quarter Observing Night. You will serve as set-up and take-down for those nights. The six nights are

      • Monday September 24 @ 7:30pm
      • Tuesday September 25 @ 7:30pm
      • Monday October 22 @ 7:00pm
      • Tuesday October 23 @ 7:00pm
      • Monday November 19 @ 7:00pm
      • Tuesday November 20 @ 7:00pm
  • We will meet in B-310 approximately 45 minutes prior to the start time. On weeks when there are observing nights, there will be no other class activities.
Observing Nights
schedule for the next three weeks
Schedule for the next three weeks

Tonight: becoming familiar with how to set-up the various telescopes. If possible, make observation of the Moon. Expect to stay the full time

Next Week: no class Monday (Labor Day)

Week after: class meets here for lecture then migrates to another location for lab (if clear). Plan on carpooling. If cloudy: cloudy night lab.

the celestial sphere
The Celestial Sphere

A useful fiction but it has its limitations

spherical coordinates
Spherical Coordinates

On the Earth, the angle f is the latitude while the angle l is the longitude. A third quantity, the altitude, is needed to describe the position in 3D

alt az coordinates
Alt-Az Coordinates

The Alt-Az coordinates are tied to your locale. Azimuth is the angle around from due north (0°) and altitude is the angle above the horizon. Third quantity, distance to object, isn’t used.

celestial equatorial coordinates
Celestial Equatorial Coordinates
  • (Right Ascention) is the angle around from the Vernal Equinox
  • (Declination) is the angle above (+) or below (-) the celestial equator
  • The celestial equator is the projection of the Earth’s equator onto the celestial sphere.

The Vernal equinox is the point where the Sun crosses the celestial equator moving northward

ecliptic coordinates
Ecliptic Coordinates

Useful for specifying the positions and orbits of objects within the solar system

galactic coordinates
Galactic Coordinates

Useful for galactic orbit calculations. Many sky survey star maps use galactic coordinates

measuring celestial coordinates
Measuring Celestial Coordinates

The Meridian Telescope

Measure when an object crosses the meridian and, given your longitude, you have its Right Ascension

measuring celestial coordinates ii
Measuring Celestial Coordinates II

Find the angle between the object and the North (or South) Celestial Pole and you have the compliment of its declination

5 minute essay
5-Minute Essay

My name is ___________.

I am a (sophomore, junior, senior, other)

I am taking Observational astronomy because I want to learn_____________.

When I graduate, I want to __________.