AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 152 Astronomy Research in Undergraduate Classes
Poster, Thursday, January 13, 2005, 9:20am-4:00pm, Exhibit Hall

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[152.02] Spectroscopy on a Shoestring: Worthwhile Science for Undergraduates

R.T. Hamilton, S.G. Engle, E.F. Guinan, G.P. McCook, R.P. Wasatonic (Villanova University)

We present the results of an ongoing pilot program utilizing a commercially available SBIG Self-Guided Spectrograph (SGS) and a relatively small Celestron 14" on-campus telescope. Low resolution spectroscopy (2.4Å) is being carried out at red wavelengths (6400-7600Å). We chose this wavelength range to take advantage of the high quantum efficiency of the detector and because of the presence of important spectra features such as H\alpha and Titanium Oxide (TiO). We are testing the scientific viability of the spectroscopic system by initially observing a sample of Be stars as well as bright pulsating red giants,supergiants, and cepheids.

Be stars are noteworthy because they have strong and often variable H\alpha 6563Åemission. We have photometric observations of the Pleiades star Pleione (BU Tau), \omega Ori, and X Per (HD 24534). This allows the comparison of H\alpha emission changes on both short time scales as well as long ones, particularly for both \omega Ori and Pleione. For Pleione, dramatic night to night changes were seen in both the strength and profile of the H\alpha emission feature. Photometric observations of \omega Ori have been carried out at Villanova since 1982 to the present. Having simultaneous spectroscopy and photometry is allowing insights into the nature of its variability.

Spectroscopy of pulsating red giants/supergiants as well as cepheids are of interest. Some representative stars include Mira, \alpha Ori, and TV Gem, as well as the cepheids \delta Ceph, Polaris, and SV Vul. These stars undergo spectral changes as they pulsate. For the M stars in particular, the TiO bands are sensitive to temperature changes in the star. Complementary V and Wing near-IR TiO band photometry is also being carried out for the cooler stars. The initial results of this study will be presented, showing worthwhile results using a small spectrograph and dedicated telescopes. We acknowledge support of this research by the NASA Delaware Space Grant College and Fellowship Program NGT5-40024.

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