AST 443 / PHY 517 : Observational Techniques

Fall 2013

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Instructor: Professor F.M. Walter (632-8232;

The class is scheduled to meet Mondays and Wednesdays 7-9 PM, in ESS 450.

Prerequisite: AST 203 or AST 205 or permission of instructor. PHY 277 is encouraged.

Graduate students should register for PHY 517 (3 credits) or PHY 585 (0 or 1 credit). Grad students will be expected to show a more advanced understanding of the material.

Astronomers explore the universe by detecting and analyzing photons with energies ranging from about 51 Joules to 10-9eV, or a range of about 30 orders of magnitude. One needs very different techniques over this range. We concentrate on techniques for detection of photons from gamma-ray energies (up to a few GeV) to the radio.

Learning Objectives: This is a course in practical astronomy and observing (laboratory) techniques. Students are expected to:

  • Plan astronomical observations, including the writing of proposals.
  • Take astronomical data, using the Department's radio telescope and 14 inch optical telescope.
  • Download and use data from on-line astronomical archives.
  • Write simple IDL code to analyze astronomical data.
  • Present results as a poster and as a scientific paper.

    This is partly a lecture course, but mostly a laboratory course. Grades will be based on a combination of homework and projects.

    Topics covered:

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    Prof. Frederick M. Walter
    Astronomy Program
    Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
    State University of New York
    Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800