Courses taught by William F. van Altena
The following are courses that I normally teach along with a rough syllabus for the last time that I taught them.
Astronomy 110  Birth, Life, and Death of Stars
Astronomy 250  Observational Astronomy
Astronomy 355  Observational Astonomy (Advanced)
Astronomy 575  Astrometry
Astronomy 701  Research Seminar in Astrometry
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This course in is intended for nonscience majors. An introduction to the solar system and stars, the physical principles involved in understanding their origin and evolution, and to the instruments of astronomy used to observe them. I will be teaching this course in the Spring term of 2001.
This course was taught through the academic year 1998/99. It has now been replaced by a lower level course, Astro 205, which concentrates on the handson use of our new Campus telescope using electronic detectors and understanding the reduction of astronomical data using computers. More advanced students now take Astro 355, which concentrates on the design and use of optical telescopes, photometers, spectrographs, and detectors to make astronomical observations. An emphasis is placed on the understanding of geometrical optics and techniques of ray tracing in the design of astronomical instruiments and telescopes.

Week 
Topic of Lecture 
Reading Assignment in Fundamental Astronomy 

Jan. 12 
Telescopes 
Chapters 1 & 3 
Jan. 19 
The Celestial Sphere and Astronomical Coordinate Systems 
Chapter 2 
Jan. 26 
Introduction to Error Analysis 
Topping & Bevington 
Feb. 2 
Masses of Stars 
Chapter 10 & Smart pp. 
Feb. 9 
Magnitudes and Colors of Stars 
Chapters 3.3, 4, 5.6, & 6 
Feb. 16 
Spectral Classification 
Chapters 3.3, 5, & 9 
Feb. 23 
Stellar Distances and Motions 
Chapters 17 & 18.1 
Mar. 2 
Hour Exam #1 
Topics through and incl. Feb. 9 
Mar. 922 
Spring Recess 

Mar. 23 
Star Clusters and Evolution 
Chapter s17, 11, 12, 14 & 15 
Mar. 30 
Our Galaxy 
Chapters 16 & 18 
Apr. 6 
Galaxies 
Chapter 19 
Apr. 13 
Structure of the Universe and Cosmology 
Chapter 20 
Apr. 20 
Hour Exam #2 
Topics including Feb. 16 through Apr. 6 

No. 
Laboratory Subject 
Hand Out 
Due Date 

1.& 2. 
Telescopes & the Celestial Sphere 
Jan. 18 
Jan. 25 
3. 
Error Analysis 
Jan. 25 
Feb. 1 
4. 
Masses of Stars 
Feb. 1 
Feb. 15 
5. 
CCD Photometry 
Feb. 8 
Feb. 22 
6. 
Spectral Classification 
Feb. 15 
Mar. 5 (Friday!) 
7. 
Distances to Star Clusters 
Feb. 22 
Apr. 5 
8. 
Ages of Star Clusters 
Feb. 22 
Apr. 5 
9. 
Radius and Mass of Our Galaxy 
Apr. 5 
Apr. 19 
10. 
Galaxy Classification 
Apr. 12 
Apr. 26 

11. 
Solar Observing 
Jan. 19 
Mar. 6 (Friday!) 
12. 
Nighttime Observing 
Jan. 19 
Apr. 27 
The design and use of optical telescopes, photometers, spectrographs, and detectors to make astronomical observations. An emphasis is placed on the understanding of geometrical optics and techniques of ray tracing in the design of astronomical instruments and telescopes. I taught this course in the Sprng Term of 1999.
Topics for Spring Term of 1999 
Reflection, refraction and optical path length 
Planeparallel plates, prisms (deviation angle, dispersion, Risley prisms) 
Spherical surfaces, real and virtual images, graphical constructions, Gaussian lens formula 
Lens maker's formula, thin lens combinations 
Thick lenses, principal points and planes, Gaussian formulae and oblique ray method 
Nodal points, planes and applications 
Spherical mirrors, concave and convex and graphical constructions 
Sperical abberation from mirrors and its correction, astiigmatism 
Stops  aperture and field, exit and entrance pupils 
Ray tracing theory  first and third order, and the Seidel aberrations 
Spherical aberration with examples form HST and COSTAR 
Coma, lens design solutions and the Sine theorem 
Astigmatism and optimal solutions 
Curvature of the field and Optical Field Angle Distortion 
Chromatic aberration and doublet solutions 
Introduction to computer ray tracing 
Telescopes and eyepieces  various astronomical designs 
The WIYN 3.5meter telescope 
Field flatteners and correctors 
The Atmosphere  turbulence, refraction and transmission properties 
Speckle interferometry, Active and Adaptive optics, limits to astrometric precision 
CCD's and the detection of radiation  charge transfer, signaltonoise, detective quantum efficiency, optimizing the output S/N 
S/N in photography and its optimizatin 
Image centering with CCD's and in photography 
Timedelayed integration (drift scanning) techniques for photometry and astrometry 
Spectrographs  prisms, diffraction gratings and echelles, spectral resolution and dispersion 
Objective prism, slit and fiberfed spectorgraphs 
Problem Set 
Topics 
1 
Light rays and plane surfaces. 
2 
Spherical Surfaces, Thin and Thick Lenses. 
3 
Spherical Mirrors, Stops and Ray Tracing. 
4 
Exercises in Computer Ray Tracing 
5 
Ray Tracing a Modified Hartmann Focus Sensor. 
6 
Ray Tracing the WIYN Telescope 
Fall 1999 Topics and Schedule
Date 
Topic 
Sept. 3 
Binary stars, orbit determination and stellar masses. 
Sept. 6, 13 
Observation of Binary Stars from the ground, HST and Hipparcos; the RITYaleWIYN Double Star program. 
Sept. 15, 20 
The Hipparcos Astrometric Satellite. 
Sept. 22, 27 
The proposed astrometric satellites FAME and SIM. 
Sept. 29 & Oct. 4 
Trigonometric Parallaxes  Spherical trigonometry; Trig. parallaxes; photographic and modern detectors, Hipparcos, HST, FAME and SIM; correction to absolute parallax; the Yale Parallax Catalogue. 
Oct. 6 
The calibration of luminosities and the MassLuminosity relation using trigonometric parallaxes. 
Oct. 11, 13 
CCD transit instruments, drift scanning and stare mode; Atmospheric limits to precision in groundbased Astrometry. 
Oct. 18, 20 
Stellar Positions  Reference systems; astrographs  types, optical and mechanical alignment; the gnomonic projection. 
Oct. 25 
Transformation of right ascension and declination to rectangular standard coordinates and vice versa; correcting for refraction, precession, nutation and aberration of light; transformation to and from B1950 to J2000. 
Oct. 27 
The practice of transforming measured to standard coordinates; wide field astrographs and simplifications for long focus telescopes. 
Nov. 1 
Modeling prime focus and Schmidt telescope fields; the deep Schmidt survey catalogues: GSC, STScI Digital Sky Survey, USNO A2.0, etc. 
Nov. 3 
The establishment of astrometric calibration regions and the determination of positions for objects much fainter than existing reference stars. 
Nov. 8 
Characteristics of CCD's and the photographic emulsion as detectors. Theory and practice of measuring machines, including the Yale PDS. 
Nov. 10 
Astrometry and Galactic Structure  The role that Astrometry plays in defining the spatial and kinematic structure of the Galaxy. 
Nov. 15 
The determination of proper motions with respect to galaxies and the Lick and YaleSan Juan proper motion programs. 
Nov. 17 
Membership and internal motion determinations in star clusters. 
Nov. 22, 24 
Thanksgiving vacation. 
Thanksgiving vacation. 
Student papers 
Astronomy 701  Research Seminar in Astrometry
This research seminar brings together individuals in the Astronomy Department who are working on a variety of astrometric problems on a weekly basis. The goal of the seminar is to familiarize the participants with current research activities in astrometry and aid in the solution of problems that each individual might be having. This course normally meets once a week throughout each academic year.