PHYSICS 1091 ``Stars and Galaxies Lab''  Spring 2018

CRN: 31899
Credits: 1.00
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Class Home page:  (this page!)

Instructor: Dr. Jason Pinkney
Office Hours in 111 Science Annex at 11 am M,W,R,F, and 2pm on W.
Email or call 419-772-2740.
Observatory Phone: 419-772-4028
Instructor's Home page:

Class time and place: 
     Weekly meeting at 108A Sci Annex (Astro Lab): Monday 1:00 pm.
     Default observing time: Mon, about 8-9:15 pm (will shift later as seasons change).
     Backup observing: Wed, about 8-9:15 pm.
We will try to observe once per week, but clouds inevitably interfere.
We use the Weekly meeting to assign new indoor and outdoor labs, turn in labs, and go over labs.


     (The place for any additions.)


This is the lab associated with introductory astronomy course Physics 1061, "Stars and Galaxies". There is only 1 section, since only astronomy minors (or physics majors with astronomy concentrations) really have to take this lab. You will have an informational meeting with me on the first week where you will be assigned your first lab.

Textbook and Notebook: No textbook is required. (Handouts will be provided for some labs while others will be computer-based.) However, you should have a notebook for the lab. Use it to record notes on our weekly meetings, and to write out a description of the computer-based labs.

Course Description:
Astronomy labs requiring math at the algebra level. The course combines indoor, computer based labs with observing sessions at the ONU Observatory. The outdoor sessions intend to give you practice in finding your way in the night sky, and also give you experience in using telescopes and CCD detectors for imaging.

Here is a link to the ONU Observatory web site (including maps):


Telescope & sky quiz Telescope & sky quiz 10%
Labs Indoor and outdoor labs (see schedule) 90%

Your final letter grade is calculated roughly as follows:


I will not grade any "harder" than the above. 
Grading is based primarily on completion of the required indoor and outdoor labs. The labs are weighted by the number of weeks required to finish it. A 1-week indoor lab is worth about the same as a 1-week outdoor lab, but a 2-week outdoor lab would be worth twice as much. I will review the labs with a "quality control" mindset, asking you to redo parts which should be done differently, and to fix mistakes.

Course Policies

Attendance  is essential for labs.

Quizzes may be given occasionally.  They will consist of multiple choice/short answer questions.

Calculators. I encourage you to have a calculator in this lab.

Schedule (tentative):
Week of Indoor Lab (if cloudy) Outdoor lab   (if clear)
W1 (1/22/18) I choose a meeting time.  Provide syllabus.
Choose meeting time.
W2 "Plan an observing run."    (Use field guides,  planetarium programs, celestial globe, star locators to choose objects.)
Telescope intro.  Using star atlases; Messier & Caldwell catalogs.  
"Plan an observing run"
Creating & using finder charts
VAL Unit 14. Stellar Parallax
Imaging star clusters (color CCD)
VAL Unit 15. Proper Motion of Stars
Imaging star clusters (B&W CCD)
VAL Unit 17. Visual Binary Stars
"Observ Run" objects
W7 2/26
VAL Unit 21. HR Diagram "Observ Run" objects
W8 3/12
VAL Unit 21. HR Diagram Digital camera astrophotography
W9 (3/19)
VAL Unit 19. Cepheid Variable Stars Imaging nebulae (color CCD)
VAL Unit 19. Cepheid Variable Stars Imaging nebulae (color CCD).
Distribution of Mass in a Galaxy (VAL Unit 25) Supernovae & SN remnants
Distribution of Mass in a Galaxy (VAL Unit 25) CCD imaging of galaxies.
Galactic Speeds and Hubble's Law (VAL Unit 23) CCD imaging of galaxies.
Galactic Speeds and Hubble's Law (VAL Unit 23) Certification: telescope practice
Certification: sky quiz (done on computer)
Certification: telescope set up.

(Finals week) Finish certification if not done. Finish Certification if not done.

Independent stargazing:  the goal here is to become familiar with the night sky. (If you ever find yourself in an astronomy graduate assistantship, you will probably have to find planets and constellations for undergraduates.)  Practice learning the constellations on your own during non-lab nights.  You can also learn constellations with a computer planetarium program, but a flat computer screen does not truly represent a sky that wraps around you.  Practice up for the ...

Telescope certification or Constellation quiz:  be able to point out 5 constellations, and the 5 brightest objects (stars or planets) visible.  Be able to find the north celestial pole, the zenith, and the celestial equator.  If we don't get a clear night during the last week, I will test you using a planetarium program.

Doing labs: the indoor labs are usually computer-based.  Therefore, you will have the option to complete the lab at any time, not just the usual meeting time.  However, you should be present at the begining of the class period to get instructions.  (The above schedule is VERY subject to change.) I also hope to take you out when weather conditions are good.  In general, if the weather is good (<20% cloud cover, >20 deg F) we will go out.

Plan an "observing run": use star maps, a celestial sphere, or a planetarium program to find interesting objects to observe with a small (~5-inch) telescope.  Write out a detailed schedule so that you can observe for about 1-2 hours on a clear night during this quarter.  You must be sure that your object will be accessible at the scheduled time!  

  Cool astronomy Links Pinkney's Homepage The ONU Physics Homepage