AAS 197, January 2001
Session 87. Innovations in Teaching Astronomy II
Joint Display, Wednesday, January 10, 2001, 9:30am-7:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[87.28] Observational Astronomy for Undergraduate Majors: A Hands-On Approach for Learning Professional Techniques

G. Doppmann, M. K. Hemenway (Univ. TX - Austin)

We present a lab curriculum for undergraduates designed to provide hands-on experience with telescope operation, CCD imaging, and data reduction and analysis with IRAF. Theoretical concepts involving telescope optics, CCD detector characteristics, apparent motions of celestial objects, and photometric properties of stars were introduced in weekly lectures and were central to each lab. The students worked in groups of five using our department 16-inch classical Cassegrain telescope with its new Optomechanics mount and drive which facilitated target aquisition and tracking. Digital images were obtained using a KX260 Apogee CCD camera and read out with a PC running CCDSoft in the dome. Students transfered their data via ethernet to a new computing lab for undergraduates that has IRAF packages installed on PCs running linux. Using these state of the art tools, students learned techniques of data reduction and analysis used by the professional community. The five exercises were field tested during the spring 2000 semester. Students first characterized the telescope and CCD detector, becoming familiar with all aspects of taking data and preparing for an observing run. Later labs involved photometry of standard stars to establish telescope throughput and photometry of cluster stars in M44 to verify distance using measured B-V colors. \newline \newline Support from the NSF with grant 97-51287 from the Undergraduate Instrumentation and Laboratory Improvement Program and from a private donor is gratefully acknowledged.

If you would like more information about this abstract, please follow the link to http://outreach.as.utexas.edu/telescope/. This link was provided by the author. When you follow it, you will leave the Web site for this meeting; to return, you should use the Back comand on your browser.

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