ASTR 306/406 - Astronomical Techniques

T/Th 8:30-9:45am, Sears 552

This course will focus on research techniques used by astronomers, including observational studies using ground- and space-based telescopes, and data mining of large on-line astronomical datasets. We will also emphasize the variety of technical writing that astronomers do, including observing/funding proposals, journal articles, and technical reviews. This course is an approved SAGES departmental seminar.



Instructors:

Primary
Secondary
Chris Mihos
mihos@case.edu
Sears 557
Office Hours: drop-in
Paul Harding
paul.harding@case.edu
Sears 569

Technical Support:

Coding/App Support
System Support
Aaron Watkins
aew54@case.edu
Sears 573
Office Hours: M/W 3-4
Charley Knox
charles.knox@case.edu
Sears 568



Textbooks:

No required textbooks. Readings will come from a variety of sources available online and in the astronomy lab and library.
  • BGO: Observational Astronomy, by Birney, Gonzalez, and Oesper
  • Chromey: To Measure the Sky, by Frederick Chromey
  • Howell: Handbook of CCD Astronomy

Attendance Policy:

On-time attendance is required. Absences will be noted, as will late arrivals. Attendance will be factored into the final course grade.



Assignments

There will be 4-5 homework sets geared towards the development of technical skills. These assignments will often be coordinated with in-class activities. Typical assignments could include conducting a simple photometric analysis of astronomical image data,  or downloading and analyzing appropriate astronomical datasets off of the web.

In addition, there will be several writing assignments throughout the semester which might include
  • an observing proposal
  • a grant proposal for research using an on-line database
  • a project writeup in journal style
  • a referee's report of project writeups
General tips on HW assignments.

Submitting Assignments: Assignments should be turned in by 4pm on the due date. Hardcopy only; electronic files are not accepted unless specifically requested.

ASTR 406:
Graduate students will have additional problems assigned, and will be asked to do more in-depth analysis and interpretation of data.

Late Homework Policy: You get one "free" late homework, which must be turned in no later than one week past the due date. After that, there will be a penalty of 20% for every day late, unless you have a prearranged, excused reason.

Grading

Final grades are based on a weighted average of course assignments (with weights as given in the Assignments section). There are no exams. The grading scheme works as follows:

A
90-100
B
80-89
C
70-79
D
50-69
F
< 50

Unexcused absences will impact your score roughly as follows:

Absences
Adjustment
0
+3
1.5
0
3
-5
4
-10
6
-20
8
-30
(full algorithm here)

10 or more absences will result in a failing class grade, and late arrivals (>10 mins late) will count as half an absence.


Computational Requirements

Programming and data analysis will be required. While I don't require that you do your work in any particular language, I strongly recommend you work in python.  Support/help with other languages is not guaranteed.

If you do not have an account on our linux workstations, please see Charley Knox (Sears 568) to get set up ASAP. 

Computational Tools/Guides

Python help/links
PyRAF / IRAF
Skycalc (full graphical version / local install)
Skycalc (limited web version)


Course Schedule / Topic List

Date
Topics
Notes/Readings
Aug 25
Course Intro
Coordinate Systems
Chromey Ch 3.1
BGO: Ch 1
Aug 27
Observing run prep (Skycalc)
The Atmosphere
BGO: Ch 7
Night sky spectrum movie
Betelgeuse seeing movie
Sep 1
Telescopes
BGO: Ch 6
Chromey 5.5
Sep 3
Data Lab
Detectors
Howell: Ch 2-4
Sep 8
Detectors (cont)
Data Lab
Howell: Ch 2-4
Sep 10
Detectors (cont)
Filters and Magnitudes
BGO: Ch 5
Chromey: 10.3-10.4
Sep 15
HW discussion
Filters and Magnitudes (cont)

Sep 17
Photometry
Writing discussion
Howell, Ch 5
Sep 22
Statistics

Sep 24
Statistics (cont)
M101 project lab
(data reduction)

Sep 29
M101 project lab
(photometry/sky estimation)

Oct 1
M101 project lab
(sky subtraction and
photometric scaling)

Oct 6
M101 project lab
(Final image assembly
and photometry)

Oct 8
M101 project lab
(Final photometry)

Oct 13
Observing Proposal discussion
AGN project intro

Oct 15
Sexual Harassment and
Climate Issues in Astronomy

Oct 20
No class -- Fall Break

Oct 22
AGN project intro
Oct 27
AGN Project : Data Sources
and Cluster Sample

SDSS Data Lab

Oct 29
SDSS Data Lab (cont)
Nov 3
Spectroscopy
Eyeball Spectroscopy Lab

Nov 5
Spectroscopy
Nov 10
Spectrograph Lab
Nov 12
Spectrograph Lab
Nov 17
M101 paper review
HW 4 overview
TAC discussion

Nov 19
Chandra Data Lab
Nov 24
Cluster AGN Hunting

Nov 26
No class -- Thanksgiving

Dec 1
Cluster AGN Hunting
Dec 3
Time Allocation Committee

Assignments (due dates subject to change)

Assignment
Due
Weight
HW1
Sep 3
1
HW2
Sep 22
1
HW3
Oct 6
1
M101 paper
Oct 15
Oct 22
1.5
Observing Proposal
Topic: Oct 27
Prop: Nov 10
(no extensions)
1.5
HW4 Nov 24 1
TAC reports
Dec 3
(no extensions)
1
Cluster AGN
writeup

Dec 15
(no extensions)
1.5

Assignments are due at 4pm on the specified date. 



Cluster AGN Data Mining Teams

Shapley
Herschel
Chandrasekhar Mitchell
Jakub
Liz
Ashley
Nick
Grace
Khalil
Greg
Heather
Chris Kalvin
Dan
Kate




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