Astronomy 255a = Physics 295a
"Research Methods in Astrophysics"

Instructor: Charles Bailyn
J. W. Gibbs, 270, 2-3022,
Office hours by appointment

TF: Allison Merritt
J. W. Gibbs 209, 2-3029,
Office hours by appointment

Lectures: M, W 1:00-2:15, J. W. Gibbs Lab 263.


The second class (Monday September 5) will be held at the Leitner Family Observatory located on Prospect St. between the Science Hill area and the Divinity School (see map at LFO website).

Link to IRAF and unix information here.

Link to computer information here. (NOTE: this is currently out of date - revised information will be available soon).

Course Description:

"The acquisition and analysis of astrophysical data, including the design and use of ground and space-based telescopes, computational manipulation of digitized images and spectra, and confrontation of data with theoretical models. Examples taken from current research at Yale and elsewhere." (from the YCPS)

This course is designed to provide students with the background necessary to carry out research projects in astrophysics, and to introduce students to a range of research areas under active investigation at Yale and elsewhere. Specific topics are indicated on the class schedule.

Coursework will consist of six homework assignments, a mid-term exam, and a final oral report. In some cases the homework assignments will be due in segments, to spread out the workload. The homework will count for 3/4 of the course grade, and the mid-term and the oral report will count 1/8 each (see note on grading procedures). The homework assignments will include obtaining data with Yale's on-campus student observatory, and statistical and computational analysis of data obtained from Yale's research telescopes in Chile and Arizona.

Important note: The oral reports will be given during Reading Period. That will be the end of the course: there is no final exam.

There is one required text, "Observing the Universe: A Guide to Observational Astronomy and Planetary Science" by A. J. Norton, available at the Yale Bookstore. This covers most of the technical aspects of the course (although not the scientific problems themselves); this will be supplemented by a variety of handouts and websites, .

A strong background in high-school math and physics is essential; some previous knowledge of astronomy is recommended; experience with statistics, computer programming, and college-level physics and math may be helpful, but is not required. This course serves as a foundation for the Astronomy and Astronomy & Physics majors, but interested non-majors are very welcome.