Observational Astronomy

Astronomy 355/555, Fall 2012, TT 9:00 - 10:15

Location: JWG 263
Yale University
TT 9:00-10:15 AM
Professor: Pieter van Dokkum
pieter.vandokkum at yale.edu
Office hours: by email appointment
264 JWG (Gibbs Lab.)
Text: There is no textbook; active class participation is needed.
Note: This class is required for first-year graduate students. Class will meet during reading week.
URL: http://www.astro.yale.edu/dokkum/courses/observational/

Tentative schedule

Preliminaries; the night sky

Aug 30: Course overview; the role of observational astronomy
Sept 3: Magnitudes, units, coordinate systems, SEDs and spectra, filter systems
Sept 6: No class (Pieter in Indiana)
Sept 11: More on units and filter systems; the night sky spectrum and its effects

Telescopes, instruments, detectors

Sept 13: Telescopes: types, optics, foci
Sept 18: More on telescopes
Sept 20: Imagers; CCD detectors
Sept 25: Near-IR detectors
Sept 27: Spectrographs

An imaging observation from start to finish

Oct 2: How to write an observing proposal
Oct 4: A typical observing night: preparation, calibrations, etc
Oct 16: Image processing steps (cooking show style)
Oct 18: Image combination
Oct 23: IRAF primer; scripting
Oct 25: Analysis of imaging data: PSF, SExtractor, GALFIT

Beyond imaging

Nov 6: Analysis of spectral lines: radial velocities, line widths, line indices
Nov 8: SED fitting: photometric redshifts, spectral classification
Nov 13: High energy photons
Nov 15: Radio interferometry (guest lecture)

Workflow and (more) software

Nov 20: How to work efficiently; UNIX
Nov 27: Quick and easy analysis; SuperMongo
Nov 29: Paper writing; LaTex

Statistics and error analysis

Dec 4: S/N, detection significance, random and systematic errors
Dec 6: No class
Dec 11: Statistical tests, model fitting

Armchair astronomers

Dec 13: Data mining, public surveys: the waning era of the mountain top astronomer