ASTR 306/406 - Astronomical Techniques

MW 3:20-4:35, 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,
except not MW 1-3:20
Paul Harding
paul.harding@case.edu
Sears 569


Textbooks:

No required textbooks. Readings will come from a variety of sources available online and in the astronomy lab and library, including:

BGO: Observational Astronomy, by Birney, Gonzalez, and Oesper
Chromey: To Measure the Sky, by Frederick Chromey
Howell: Handbook of CCD Astronomy




Computational Requirements

Programming and data analysis will be required. I strongly encourage you to install the Anaconda python distribution on your computer, which also installs the astropy package by default.

Computer Support:
Bill Janesh
bill.janesh@case.edu
Sears 571
Charley Knox
charles.knox@case.edu
Sears 568


Assignments

There will be a variety of 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 during the semester:
  • a project writeup in journal style
  • an observing proposal
  • TAC-style proposal reviews
ASTR 406: Graduate students will have additional problems assigned, and will be asked to do more in-depth analysis and interpretation of data.

Submitting Assignments:
Assignments may either be handed in as hardcopy or emailed to me as a single, complete pdf. If the due date falls on a class date, assignments are due at the start of class (3:20pm). Otherwise, assignments are due at 4pm.

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. Note: Your "free" late homework cannot be used on assignments marked with "no extensions"

Assignment Schedule (due dates subject to change)

Assignment
Due
Weight
HW1
Jan 29
1
HW2
Feb 12
1
HW3
Feb 26
1
M101 paper
Mar 6
1.5
Observing Proposal
cancelled
0
HW4 Apr 10
1
TAC reports
cancelled
0
Cluster AGN writeup
May 4
1.5


Notes:
  • HW #4 and Cluster AGN writeup are optional for ASTR306 students. If you want to do them, they will only be factored in to your grade if they improve your "pre-coronavirus grade".
  • ASTR406 students need to complete HW #4 and the Cluster AGN writeup.



Attendance Policy

The attendance policy has been suspended for Spring 2020.

This course will involve hands-on data analysis, in-class group work, and class discussions. By their nature, these kinds of interactive class activities cannot be made up, and therefore on-time attendance is required. Unexcused absences will impact your score roughly as follows, with late arrivals (>10 mins late) counting as half an absence:

Absences
Adjustment
0
+1.5
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, regardless of performance on written assignments

Grading

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

ASTR 306
      
ASTR 406
A
90-100

A-,A,A+
90-91,92-97,98-100
B
80-89

B-,B,B+
80-81,82-87,88-89
C
70-79

C-,C,C_
70-71,72-77,78-79
D
50-69

D-,D,D+
50-55,56-65,66-69
F
< 50

F
<50



Course Schedule / Topic List


Class
Date
Topics
Notes/Readings
1
Jan 13
Course Intro
Coordinate Systems
Chromey Ch 3.1
BGO: Ch 1
2
Jan 15
Coordinate Systems (cont)
Sky Calculators
The Atmosphere
Night sky spectrum movie
Betelgeuse seeing movie
Sky Cams: KPNO blue, red
BGO: Ch 6
Chromey 5.5

Jan 20
No class (MLK day)

3
 Jan 22
Statistics
4
Jan 27
Filters and Magnitudes
BGO: Ch 5
Chromey: 10.3-10.4
spectral_conversions.ipynb
5
Jan 29
Telescopes
Detectors
Howell: Ch 2-4
6
Feb 3
Detectors
Detector Lab
M101 image:
reduced.fits
7
Feb 5
Writing Discussion

8
Feb 10
Photometry
M101 Reduction Lab

9
Feb 12
M101 Reduction Lab
Prepping for Image Combine: Calibration and Sky Subtraction
M84start.ipynb
binning_example.ipynb
10
Feb 17
M101 Reduction Lab
Stacking Image and Applying
Photometric Calibration

M101_B.fits
M101_V.fits
Photometry.ipynb
11
Feb 19
M101 photometry worksheet
Surface photometry discussion
HW #3 discussion
Harding @KPNO
12
Feb 24
M101 Analysis discussion
Spectroscopy 1
Harding @KPNO
13
Feb 26
M101 Writing Tips
Spectroscopy 2
Harding @KPNO
14
Mar 2
HW #3 discussion
Observing Proposal discussion
Spectroscopy 3
Harding @KPNO
15
Mar 4
Proposal Process Discussion


Mar 9
No class (spring break)


Mar 11
No class (spring break)

16
Mar 16
No class (COVID-19 break)

17
Mar 18
Class Reconnection
Intro to Cluster AGN project

18
Mar 23
M101 paper discussion
Cluster AGN datasets

19
Mar 25
SDSS Mining
SDSS video explanation
SDSSanalysis.ipynb
20
Mar 30
SDSS Mining
21
Apr 1
Chandra Crossmatching
ChandraCrossmatch.ipynb
22
Apr 6
Chandra Crossmatching

23
Apr 8
Object Followup

24
Apr 13
Object Followup
24
Apr 15
Infrared Astronomy

26
Apr 20
Radio Astronomy 1

27
Apr 22
Radio Astronomy 2

28
Apr 27



Learning Outcomes

After taking this course, students should be able to:
  • Understand the concepts of positions, coordinates, and object visibility in the night sky.
  • Describe the detailed effects of the Earth's atmosphere on astronomical data from ground-based telescopes.
  • Describe various telescope configurations and astronomical detector technologies.
  • Have quantitative understanding of various astronomical magnitude and filter systems.
  • Conduct basic data reduction and analysis of CCD imaging data.
  • Understand the basics of astronomical spectrographs.
  • Utilize online astronomical data sources to conduct multiwavelength studies of astronomical sources.
  • Develop quantitatively argued observing proposals.
  • Conduct literature searches of research journals.
  • Review and critique technical writing and arguments.
  • Write up research results in proper format for journal publications.

Assignment Help

Software Links

Data/Literature Links