Important Notices

Posted by Reba Bandyopadhyay

Project Presentations will take place in class on Tuesday 4 December
Final Project Reports are due by 4 PM on Monday 10 December
Please fill out the ONLINE EVALUATION (click this text) for this class by FRIDAY 7 DECEMBER!

Course Overview


AST 4723 focuses on the fundamental principles and techniques used in planning, making, reducing, and analyzing modern astronomical observations. The course includes classroom lectures and discussion, indoor laboratory work, and independent projects focused on application of observational techniques to astronomical research. Students in this class are also expected to become proficient in the fundamentals of Linux and the standard software tools used in astronomical research.

Grading Policy:
25% Tutorials and Lab Exercises (Linux, PyRAF, IDL, DS9, SM, Data Archives)
10% Imaging and Photometry Lab
10% Spectroscopy Lab
50% Independent Research Project
5% TAC Review

Please see the syllabus for additional detailed course information and policies, including grading policies and scale, and course expectations.

Course Materials


There is no required textbook for this course. Some optional texts (available at the Marston Science Library) that you may find helpful to consult include the following:

Observer's Handbook 2012, edited by David Chapman
Linux in a Nutshell (Siever)
Linux Pocket Guide (Barrett)
Fundamentals of Astronomy, Cesare Barbieri (chapters 16-17)
Practical IDL Programming (Gumley)

PDFs of the lectures and tutorials, and copies of the handouts/forms will be available for downloading here.

For observers, there is an online handbook for the Rosemary Hill Observatory (RHO), a Google Calendar schedule for the RHO 30" usage/time, and the Clear Sky Chart for RHO.

Critical Dates


11 September: Observing Project Proposals Due
18 September: TAC Review
2 October: Data for non-observing (archival) projects must be acquired
29 November, 4 December: Observing Project Presentations
10 December: Final Project Report Due

Course Schedule


Preliminary schedule for lectures and labs (subject to change):

Week ofLecture TopicsLabs
20 Aug Introduction, Computer Accounts, LinuxLinux Exercises 1
27 Aug Project Discussion, Linux, CareersLinux Exercises 2
3 Sep FITS Format, Archives, Databases, Image ViewersArchive & Viewer Exercises
10 Sep Pyraf/IRAF, Elements of Image ProcessingPyraf Exercises
17 Sep TAC ReviewTAC Review (continued)/Independent Projects
24 Sep IDLIDL Exercises, Independent Projects
1 Oct Stellar and Galaxy PhotometryIDL Exercises (as needed), Imaging and Photometry Lab
8 Oct Photometry (continued) and SExtractor DemoImaging and Photometry Lab
15 Oct Statistics ReviewImaging and Photometry Lab (as needed), Independent Projects
22 Oct Astronomical GraphingIndependent Projects
29 Oct Elements of Spectroscopic Data ReductionSpectroscopy Lab
5 Nov LaTeXIndependent Projects
12 Nov Writing Scientific Journal PapersIndependent Projects
19 Nov Giving Scientific TalksThanksgiving (No Lab)
26 Nov Projects, PresentationsIndependent Projects
3 Dec Presentations