Instructors: Steve Boughn and
Class: M 7:30 - 10:00 pm in the
Class Description:The focus of this course is the acquisition and analysis of optical astronomical images using CCD cameras and the IDL programming language. Doing this will involve studying how to quantify light, statistical uncertainty, ccd cameras, digital images, and photometry. Along the way you will develop expertise in many areas, including:
Prerequisites:The primary prerequisite for this course is Astro 205; therefore, it is expected that all students will have a working familiarity with the 12-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope located in the small dome in the Strawbridge Observatory. It is anticipated that some students will also have some familiarity with the Linux computer operating system, the IDL and/or IRAF software package, and general CCD camera operation. However, students unfamiliar with these systems will be quickly brought up to speed and will then be able to direct most of their efforts to the observing projects. The primary purpose of the first two projects is to learn CCD camera operations and basic photometric techniques.
Assignments and Grading:Your course grade will largely be based on your writeups to 4 labs (this is tentative list) and on your overall class participation. There will be no exams.
Formal Reports:Formal reports will be required for two of the projects. These reports should be written in standard journal style and format. Look at articles in Astrophysical Journal for examples. Reports should include: (1) a short abstract in which the important results of the observations and subsequent analysis are summarized; (2) an introduction of approximately one page in which the observations are placed in an astrophysical context. It is in this section that one may wish to review current scientific understanding of the object or the results of previous observations; (3) an observations section in which the observations are described and perhaps some raw data tables are given; (4) an analysis section which describes the reduction of the data. This needn't be in great detail. Caution—never put simple arithmetic calculations in this section; just let the reader know how the analysis is being done. Tables, graphs, and images are appropriate in this section. Note – items 3 and 4 are often intermingled; (5) a discussion and/or conclusions section which gives a clear presentation of the important results and, if appropriate, comments on their significance. If you must wax philosophical, this is the place to do it (in moderation); and (6) a reference section. Use the Ap. J. style. We will discuss these matters in a workshop prior to the first formal report.
Honor Code:The important guiding principle of academic honesty is that you must never represent the work of another as your own. Please request clarification of the following if you find yourself in any doubtful situations: Discussion and collaboration with other students on homework sets and labs is encouraged. However, all submitted work must be your own. While working together is permitted, merely copying the work of another student (whether a calculation or a sketch of a moon phase) without indicating that you have done so is clearly a representation of his or her work as your own and so is a violation of the code. You should always try all work by yourself before collaborating with classmates, posting questions on Blackboard, going to Blackboard to see the answers to other questions, or coming to discussion section.