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Astronomy 101 Planetarium Lab. Instructor: Brian Pohl ConOps: Craig Zdanowicz Gabrielle Scronte. Please do not sit in the front row or the southwest section. Schedule – Every other week We WILL meet the weeks of Fall break and Thanksgiving break! Attendance

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astronomy 101 planetarium lab

Astronomy 101 Planetarium Lab

Instructor: Brian Pohl

ConOps: Craig Zdanowicz

Gabrielle Scronte

Please do not sit in the front row or the southwest section

Schedule – Every other week

We WILL meet the weeks of Fall break and Thanksgiving break!


5 P Labs / 5 Night Labs / 1 Makeup Lab

Honor Code


Must hand in 10 labs to receive full credit

You Night Lab TA collects PLabs and grades them

Lab Reports

Note: the PLab format is DIFFERENT than Night Lab

Due Dates

Due Wednesday the week after lab

office hours
Office Hours
  • Monday and Tuesdays of non planetarium lab weeks.
  • 3 pm – 5 pm in Morehead room 403
    • East entrance facing the arboretum.
    • Take the elevator on the right to the fourth floor.
general purpose of planetarium lab
General Purpose of Planetarium Lab
  • We want you to “delight” in Astronomy
  • We want you to “Look Up”
  • The Planetarium is a space-time machine
    • Simulate measurements we could not make in a short space of time, or from Chapel Hill
  • To learn to write precisely about something technical and detailed
  • From a few simple measurements, obtain complex understanding
    • Foster critical thinking
planetarium show

Planetarium Show

The delight in looking up part!



(14,300 ft)


(8,800 ft)

space the current frontier
Space! The current frontier

HUBBLE Space Telescope

other wavelengths of light
Other wavelengths of light


in Radio and X-RAY

star counts lab
Star Counts Lab
  • We will observe the sky with and without light pollution, and measure the difference in the amount of stars we can count
  • Cannot count the whole sky, so we count a part of it, and average the rest!
  • Place eye at large end of cup, point at a region of sky, and count the stars
  • We’ll do this five times … each time select a different portion of the sky
calculations and lab report
Calculations and Lab Report
  • Calculate the TOTAL number of stars in sky
    • Dimensions of Cup: L=9cm, D=2cm (write this down)
    • Total area of sky: A1=2πL2
    • Area observed (once) in cup: A2= (1/4)πD2
    • TOTAL # Stars = (count) x A1/(5xA2)
  • Calculate the ratio of stars with and without light pollution
  • Show all work and equations on a separate page
  • Study the syllabus for correct report format
  • Calculate percent error against the total amount of stars in the sky without light pollution (~3000)
  • Final result: how the sky varies with and without light pollution (the ratio)
a few brief words about error analysis
A Few Brief Words About:Error Analysis
  • Error is not a mistake
    • It is not “human error”
    • It merely exists
  • Error is a factor that affect the quality and character of the measured data
    • Is this a good number?
    • Is this the ‘right’ number?
  • Some questions to ask yourself:
    • What am I measuring or observing? [OBJECT]
    • How am I measuring? [TECHNIQUE]
    • With what am I observing? [DEVICE] (note: this CAN be you and that is fine)
  • Types of error:
    • Random error: effects that are not consistent from one measurement to another
    • Systematic error: effects that are generally the same every time you make an observation
  • How to address error in your lab report:
    • Where possible be quantitative(but you may not be able to be)
    • See where error most affects your final result and by how much
    • How could you correct for this error, now that you know about it?
  • Most importantly:
    • Do not be vague, be specific about the origin of a source of error
    • Do not invent an error, support you choice of error with evidence or argument
    • Do not stress out, you learn with practice how to better examine error over the course of the semester
hand calibration
Hand Calibration
  • For next time
  • In order to measure angles in the Planetarium you will:
    • measure the lengths of your arm, hand and fingers
    • Refer to pg. 171 for the instructions
    • Refer to pg. 175 for a diagram
morehead room 403 mondays tuesdays week after lab 3 5pm

All Power Points are on my website: office hours or email me if you have questions!

Morehead room 403

Mondays, Tuesdays (week-after-lab) 3 - 5pm