Astronomical Observing Techniques
Full course description
This practical is aimed at learning various aspects of observational astronomical techniques. This will be accomplished via hands-on exercises, laboratory experiments/analyses and via computer-based exploration. This practical will hopefully begin to prepare you for continuing to more professional astronomical instruments. Students in this practical will perform some observations on their own: beginning with simple naked eye observations and their interpretations, understanding optical systems of telescopes, move on to acquiring, processing & analyzing imagery acquired with CCD or CMOS cameras, acquire & analyze radio telescope observations of 21cm radiation within our Milky Way galaxy and finish up with the multimessenger-era of astronomy to better understand gravitational wave observations. Sub-topics may include learning about: celestial coordinate systems, celestial navigation, blackbody radiation, spectroscopy, image formation, diffraction, active/adaptive optics, various telescope types, tracking mounts, image acquisition (bias, flats, darks & science images), image processing, photometry, light curves, radio observations and interferometry.
Due to uncertain weather conditions and that some observations will need to be performed outside regular practical hours, some observations may be left up to students to perform on their own or will be of a simulated nature. If weather conditions indicate it was clear and students did not perform their observations nor figure out how to perform them virtually, this will certainly be reflected in practical performance.
This skill will prepare students to:
- Design, use and perform measurements in observational experiments.
- Manipulate and measure light
- Carry out data reduction/analysis of astrometric, photometric and spectroscopic observations
- Learn basics of various software routines for processing data and assembling figures
- Communicate processes and findings to others
- Productively collaborate and critique
- PHY2008 Solar System Astronomy or
- PHY2009 Stellar Astronomy or
- PHY2010 Galactic Astronomy
- To Measure the Sky (An Introduction to Observational Astronomy), F.R. Chromey, Cambridge University Press, 2010
- Practical Physics, G.L. Squires, Cambridge University Press, 4th ed, Sept. 2001
- AAVSO Observing Manuals, https://www.aavso.org/observing-manuals
- Siril (An astronomical image processing tool), https://www.siril.org/
- ISIS (Integrated Spectrographic Innovative Software), http://www.astrosurf.com/buil/isis-stoftware.html (Windows only though!)