ASTR 116 Spring 2016 Class Webpage

Morgan Ackley, Marianne Birkner, Olivia Chang, Richard Feng, Maximilian Gamero, Elizabeth Hartsell, Farhan Islam, Shubhangi Jain, Chris Keyes, Mawuko Kpodo, Kanika Kumar, Brennon Lindsey, Emily Parent, Veena Prakash, Bailey Tyler, Jessica Urgo and Miranda Zheng.

The International Space Station
9:21-9:23pm, Sunday April 17, 2016. Oxford College Soccer Field 

ASTR116-S16 - The ISS -April 17, 2016 - Chris and Miranda.

Jupiter and its Moons, the Orion Nebula and the Pleiades Star Cluster 
8:45-10:15pm, Tues. March 29, 2016. Oxford College Soccer Field 

We will use two different telescopes to observe and photograph the Pleiades open cluster, the Orion nebula, as well as Jupiter and its moons. The Pleiades will be low in the sky and setting in the west so that we will need to observe it as soon as it gets dark. Fortunately, Jupiter will be rising in the east and the Great Red Spot will be visible on the side of Jupiter facing the Earth! 
(All times are approximate, and may vary with the weather!)
  1. 8:45pm -- The Pleiades Star Cluster -- We will use a wide field Newtonian telescope to view and photograph the Pleiades star cluster using the Canon digital camera. The Pleiades is an open star cluster containing many hot blue and extremely luminous stars that have formed within the last 100 million years. In our next lab class, on Tuesday April 5th, your assignment will be to identity and label, by name, spectral type, and stellar classification, the brightest stars in your photographs of the Pleiades. You will then create your own Temperature-Luminosity diagram for the Pleiades stars to learn about how this star cluster has evolved in time.
  2. 9:15pm -- The Orion Nebula -- We will use a wide field Newtonian telescope to view and photograph the beautiful Orion Nebula. In our next lab class, on Tuesday April 5th, your assignment will be to identity and label, by name, spectral type, and stellar classification, the brightest stars in your Orion nebula photographs.  
  3. 9:45pm -- Jupiter and its Moons -- We will next switch over to the larger 9" Schmidt Cassegrain telescope to view Jupiter and its moons. We will take widefield photographs and your task in lab on April 5'th will be to identify and label the names of the 4 moons in your photo.
  4. 10:00pm -- Jupiter and the Great Red Spot -- Your final project will be to image Jupiter at high resolution. To do this, we will need to switch out the Canon camera for the same astronomy camera that you used to make movies of the Sun's surface. This camera will give us a much higher zoom factor to see many details on Jupiter's surface. Your task will be to capture a few short movies of Jupiter in the same way you did for the Sun. Then, back in lab on April 5'th, you will process your movies using Registax to obtain a single sharp image on Jupiter and hopefully see Jupiter's Great Red Spot in some detail!
RESULTS: Download Your Image Files

Raw Camera Image Files -- Before Processing!

 OBSERVING LAB #3: The Solar Imaging Lab
 Tuesday March 15, 2016 

We will use two different telescopes, the first to observing the convecting solar surface, the second to see sunspots.
    1. The Coronado Solarmax II 60 - Has a red filter that is sensitive to light from Hydrogen atoms on the solar surface, the Chromosphere. This scope is very good at revealing the detailed features of convection cells, filaments plages on the Sun's surface. Information on understanding the Hydrogen Alpha solar pictures can be found at
    2. The Nexstar 8" Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope - Views the Photosphere of the Sun in visible light, good at located sunspsots, but not much more detail.


1. Download your visible light solar images and red light movie from the file links below. 
Group 1: Jessica and Veena
Group 6: Max and Bailey
Group 8: Kanika, Momo and Shubhangi

2. Work on the visible light image.
Open up the Landscape mode Powerpoint template file, put your sunspot image onto a slide. Your goal is to illustrate how big the sunspots and the sun are by drawing in solid circles (placed near to a sunspot) that represent the sizes of (a) the Earth and (b) Jupiter. Note that 
the diameter of the Sun is 1.39 million km, the diameter of the Earth is 12,700km, and the diameter of Jupiter is 139,000km. 

3. Work on the Hydrogen-alpha movie file.
You will process you Sun movies using the Registax program. To do that, follow the procedures here.
Insert your Hydrogen-alpha solar image on a second Powerpoint slide. Label any observed features such as sunspots, prominences, filaments ... Estimate the sizes in km's of these features and put in a scale bar that is the diameter of the Earth.

OBSERVING LAB #2 - The Moon Lab
Wednesday and Thursday Feb. 17/18, 2016

We photographed the Waxing Gibbous Moon from right in front of the New Science Building!

 ** If you have 2 photos of the bottom and top parts of the Moon you can stitch them together with the simple free program called Microsoft ICE.
Windows PC's only --> Download Microsoft ICE

--  Wednesday Feb. 17

Moon Lab Procedure:

1. Download your Moon images from the links above.

2. If you need to stitch together 2 Moon photos, use Microsoft Ice or ask Dr. Segre.

2. Label features on your Moon image.
Open up Powerpoint Portrait template, put the Moon image onto one of the slides. Use the Brightness/Contrast controls to improve the appearance of your image. Your goal is to label with text and/or arrows as many features on the Moon as you can. Refer to the 2 Maps of the Moon below for reference. 
  1. You should label many mare, craters, and Apollo landing sites.
  2. For scale, put a line or bar on the image that represent 200 miles.
3. Email me your powerpoint file.

OBSERVING LAB #1 -- Photographing the Constellation of Orion - Feb. 4, 2016

We began by photographing the constellation Orion and making star trail images to see the different colors of stars in Orion.

Observing Groups -- Click and choose "Download as .zip" to download all images in 1 file.
+ Telescope Photo of the Orion Nebula

To Make Startrail images you need to use the free StarStax computer program
     Lab Manual for Orion Constellation Lab

Computer Software Needed for ASTR116

Skygazer4.5 Demo**

Planetarium software that is essential to view the night sky.

**Needed for ASTR116**


Download for Mac OS X 10.4 - 10.6

Download for Windows XP, Vista, 7 


Stack .jpg's to make star trails.

**Needed for ASTR116**


Download Windows version
StarStaX .zip file from here: 

Mac OS X version
StarStaX  .dmg file from here: 

**Installation instructions for Skygazer4.5 Demo for Mac OS X users
The Mac OS X version of SkyGazer 4.5 is distributed as a compressed disk image file.
• Download the disk image file.
• Double-click the file's icon to mount the image on your desktop
• Copy the SkyGazer 4.5 folder from the disk image to the Applications folder on your hard drive.
• To un-install, drag the SkyGazer 4.5 folder on your hard drive to the trash.

**Installation instructions for Skygazer4.5 Demo for Windows users

The Windows version of the demo is distributed as a self-extracting installer executable.
• Download the installer executable. Double-click the file's icon.
• Follow the instructions in the installer screen.
• To un-install, go to the Start menu > Programs > Carina Software > SkyGazer 4.5 > Uninstall SkyGazer 4.5, or use the "Add/Remove Programs" control panel.

Astronomy Software Apps That You Need to Download to Your Phone

1. iPhone - SkySafari 5: $0.99 -- Planetarium software to visualize the night sky.
    (a) Android - SkySafari 4: $2.99 -- Planetarium software to visualize the night sky.

2. iPhone/Android - Planets: Free -- Details on the visibility of planets each day.

3. iPhone/Android - MoonCalendar: Free -- Details on the phase of the Moon each day.

4. iPhone - Moon Globe: Free -- Shows a detailed Map of the Lunar surface with names of significant features.
    (a) Android - Moon Atlas 3D: Free -- Details on the phase of the Moon each day.

5. iPhone/Android - APOD: Free -- Astronomy Picture Of the Day. Beautiful photos from NASA.

  • Below are all of the lecture notes, homework assignments, lab manuals for ASTR116 in the spring of 2016. 
  • The class is taught MWF 10:45-11:50am, with labs on Tues. 1:40-4:40.
  • Course Textbook

    Discovering the Essential Universe by Neil F. Comins, 5'th Edition.

    Publication Date: 
    January 4, 2012 | ISBN-10: 1429255196 | ISBN-13: 978-1429255196 | Edition: Fifth Edition
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