ASTR 1195: Observational Astronomy
Limited to 28 students.
Provides a “hands-on” introduction to observational astronomy intended for liberal arts students at the freshman and sophomore level. High school mathematics is assumed, but otherwise there are no formal prerequisites. The course objective is to learn how we know what we know about the universe, and to learn how to observe with moderate cost amateur telescopes. The course is set up with two lectures and one evening laboratory per week. Not all of the evening sessions are used. Planned exercises include five or six observational labs with binoculars, the Fuertes 12” telescope, and Meade 8” telescopes starting with some star gazing and constellations and progressing to observations of star clusters, nebulae, and the planets, solar observations, and lunar photography. We also usually have a late fall expedition to Cornell’s Hartung-Boothroyd Observatory on Mount Pleasant to look through its 25” telescope on Mount Pleasant. The in-class labs and homeworks include a selection of exercises such as: experiments in navigating by the stars; construction and use of simple instruments such as optical spectroscopes; laboratory spectroscopy; experiments in optics; experiments in planetary cratering; collection and study of micrometeorites; analyses of planetary, solar, and lunar images obtained by the class and measuring the diameter of Earth and the distance to the sun.