Astronomy Lab

Spring 2012

Overview: Our labs are designed to supplement your Astronomy lecture classes, whether you are taking the Planets or the Stars and Galaxies course. They are all relatively easy; no great scientific experience, computer skill, or math background is required. However, reading the labs ahead of time is critical for sufficient understanding to complete the assignment during classtime. To encourage your preparedness, if during the lab you ask a question that can be answered by merely reading the lab manual or referring to your pre-lab lecture notes, I will offer the answer, but it will cost 20% (1/5) of that lab grade, so be sure before you raise your hand that you've scoured this lab manual for your solution


Grades: Total 100 points. This means that if you miss one lab it will not harm your grade too much--for logistical reasons there can be no make-up labs. Percentage-wise your earned letter grade comes from this grid:

Percent Letter Grade
88%-100% A
75%-87% B
62%-74% C
50%-61% D

The midterm and final are 15-question scantron tests. During a testing period, once the first student leaves the room no one else will be admitted; this is because the security of the test questions has been breached once the questions are outside our classroom.

Assignments: We expect that each assignment to be completed in class and turned in that evening. There are no make-ups: please don't ask. We've built in enough wiggle room in the grading that your score will not be hugely affected by one unavoidable absence.

The CLEA exercises are computer simulations of what Astronomers really do, simplified for students in introductory courses. In each case they follow and supplement an experiment we do in class. You are invited to download and install these free programs for yourself in preparation for classwork. They require only a minimal PC configuration and come with a PDF manual, although sometimes the manual doesn't quite match the software.

You'll notice that most of the labs are part of a set. This means that they are interdependent. For instance, the ray tracing lab is necessary to understand how the telescopes work in the following week's telescope lab. Because of this interdependancy an absence will be detrimental to your understanding.

Feel free to bring your own camera for observations: you can get amazingly good shots through the eyepiece of a telescope, even with a cell-phone camera. And if you want your own planetarium program, try Stellarium; it's free!

Our schedule is written, shall we say, in the stars. Several of our labs/exercises rely on a particular object being visible at night. This of course depends on the weather as well as the object's schedule. Therefore, we reserve the right to rearrange the order of the lab sets.

Lastly, each lab will open into its own window for easier printing.


Excel / Reading Maps set lab 5
MLK Day off
The Celestial Sphere set lab 5
first quarter
Ray Tracing set lab 5
Telescopes lab 5
third quarter
Solar Rotation   CLEA Exercise 5
President's Day off
waxing crescent
Cratering set lab 5

waxing gibbous

The Dobsonian Telescope / Moon Mapping lab 5

Midterm Exam

waning crescent
The Revolution of the Moons of Jupiter
  CLEA Exercise 5
waxing crescent
Photons from the Sun set lab 5
Spring Break
waning gibbous
Flow of Energy Out of the Sun set CLEA Exercise 5
waning crescent
The Color of Stars Field Trip 5
waxing crescent
Spectra lab 5
waxing gibbous
Classification of Stellar Spectra / (no optional procedure this semester.) CLEA Exercise 5
waning gibbous
Dimension / Cooling Rates   lab 5

Final Exam