PHY 445/515 Astronomy Labs

General Information


The laboratory exercises for astronomy are a recent addition to the Phy 445/515 lab offerings. There are likely to be some difficulties as we all learn this new system, and iron out the bugs. Please do not hesitate to call attention of anything that may not be working correctly to a TA or your instructor. And please be patient with us.

If you want to do one of these labs, you must familiarize yourself in advance with the labs and the basic science goals. In particular, you must read this page and the other introductory pages. They are

If you choose to do the archival data analysis project, you must come to the first class meeting (second meeting if this is the first lab you are doing) with a written, one page description of your science goals and the data sets you plan to access. In the other labs, there will be a short quiz at the outset, based on material in these web pages and (perhaps) the quoted references.

Note that there are more labs than computer stations, when all the labs are operational. All the labs are computer-intensive. There cannot be more than 4 groups signed up for the these labs at any obe time. No more than one group can sign up for the Radio Astronomy lab, since the software exists only on one of the computers. There is no limit to the number of groups that can attack other labs, although it may be necessary to share the data CDs in some cases. Note that the lab to measure the speed of light is generally not available when Jupiter is in conjunction with the Sun.

The Computers

Astronomy is a computionally-intensive science, whether you are doing numerical modelling or reducing data, and these labs are no exception. The astronomy labs are done, at least in part, seated in front of a computer. We have 4 PCs running the LINUX operating system. The PCs are attached to the internet. However, for security considerations, we only have an outgoing connection. That means that you cannot send mail to the PCs, and cannot get into the PCs by telnet or ftp from outside. You can get out from the PCs using the secure protocols ssh or scp.

Click here for specific information about the PCs

For those of you who need more time in front of a computer to complete a lab, the Sun workstations in the Math SYNC site run IDL (the analysis program you should be using). If you have an account there, you can copy your data there. IDL is NOT free software: you can get a 7 day evaluation version for your PC, but any permanent installation costs money.

Reference Materials

There is a limited amount of paper reference materials currently available. They are shelved to the left of the computer bench. The current collection consists of: These materials should not leave the room without the permission of an instructor.

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