AST 6725: Observational Techniques 

Spring 2010   

Instructor: Prof. Jian Ge

Teaching Assistant: Dan Li

Modern observational astrophysics continues to present more and more options to acquire data.  In particular, we have a large number of techniques we can employ using ground based facilities from the visible through the radio.  Data acquisition and analysis techniques are evolving even more rapidly.  This course will focus on the underlying principles of the observerís tool and techniques and the environment that we work in rather than the particulars of photometric or spectroscopic data itself.  We will especially emphasize emerging technology that will become the basis for ground-based, and in some cases space based, discoveries in the next decade such as adaptive optics, coronagraphy, near and mid infrared arrays and interferometry.

 AST 6725 Lecture Note Web Page (Contact Prof. Jian Ge for password)

Content of AST 6725

  • Signals and noise & statistics
  • Optics
  • Telescopes
  • Properties of the atmosphere
  • Photometry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Introduction to optical aberrations
  • Interferometry
  • Imaging and intro to Fourier optics
  • Adaptive Optics
  • Detectors (CCDs, bolometers, photoconductors and photodiodes)
  • Lab experiments (spectrograph setup and observations, Exoplanet tracker and ra dial velocity measurements)
  • Class presentation
  • The course will consist typically of two lectures per week on Mondays at 3:00-4:15pm & Wednesdays at 10:00-11:15am in Bryant Space Science Center room 3. 3:00-4:15pm on some Fridays may be used for makeup classes. 

    In addition to attending classes, students will be expected to complete regular homework assignments, 2 lab reports, and one term paper. The term paper will be on a subject chosen by the student and approved by the instructors by the end of the 8th week.  Each student is expected to give an in class presentation of their term paper during December.  No exams will be given.

    There is no formal text for this course.  However, we recommend several books as references.

  • Data Reduction and Error Analysis for the Physical Sciences by Philip Bevington & Keith Robinson, McGraw-Hill, Inc.
  • Astronomical Optics by Dan Schroeder
  • Principles of Adaptive Optics by Robert Tyson
  • Detection of light from the Ultraviolet to Submillimeter by George Rieke
  • Reflecting Telescope Optics I & II by Ray Wilson
  • Modern Optical Engineering, Warren Smith, McGraw-Hill, Inc.
  • Principles of Optics, Max Born & Emil Wolf, Pergramon Press
  • Adaptive Optics in Astronomy, Francois Roddier,Cambridge Press
  • This list may be expanded. 


    The lab experiments are

    (1).Assemble and test spectrograph properties include aligning the system, meas uring efficiency, spectral resolution, scattered light in a lab

    (2). Learn Exoplanet Tracker principle and measure radial velocities