The Astronomical Telescope Experiment

The Topics of the experiment:

Learning basic terms in Astronomy
Experiencing work with a telescope and a CCD camera
Reduction of Astronomical Images
Analysing Astronomical Data


The Astronomy lab has been re-designed over the last year to meet the standards of modern, professional astronomy. The experiment consists of two parts : Observations (~2 nights) and data reduction + analysis (~1-2 days). In special cases you may suggest a different topic to the experiment.

Reading Assignments and Instructions

1 - Please read carefully the following document (doc; pdf; ps).
This document contains a basic description of the telescope experiment; reading assignments; introduction to image reduction; and introduction to celestial coordinates.
2 - CCD dark current - basics
3 - The experiment uses the SBIG-ST7 CCD camera: Some technical information.
4 - The ST7 software manual (PDF format). Go over this manual, read chapters 2,3,5.
5 - The experiment uses the Meade LX-200 8inch telescope (Documentation). Please read Chapters: A.2.b; D.3.a; D.3.c; E; F.1; F.7.
6 - The rest of the reading material are listed in item 1.
7 - More reading material about the celestial coordinate system, telescopes, plate scale, and more is available in the Astropedia


First week - read ALL the reading material indicated above this web page.
On Sunady, call the instructor (sometime between 12:00-17:00) and ask for additional details or any changes! Set a date for the preliminary test.
Second/third week - The test will usually take place in Kaplun 501, Sunday afternoon (depends on weather conditions). We will try to perform the observational part of the experiment (two nights) during the first week. Many times, because of weather limitations the experiment can shift by up to two weeks!
Unless the students are familier with an advanced image reduction utility, the image analysis will be performed using IRAF. IRAF is an advanced image reduction toolbox available for UNIX systems, and it is installed on the telescope computer on the roof of Shankar building.
IRAF is also used in the astonomy experiment of the second year laboratory.
Fourth week - writing the report. The report should be submitted within 29 days from the formal beginning of the experiment. In case that the weather causes delays in the schedule, the instructor will extend this time limit.
A report that will be submitted by up to one week after this date, will lose 10 points.
A report that will be submitted later than one week from this date, will get 0.


The final grade is given by: 0.25*Test_Grade + 0.25*Performences_Grade + 0.50*Report_Grade

The Report

When writing the report please take into consideration the following criteria:
1. All plots should contains labels and errors.
2. Error analysis should be properly explained.
3. Very Large tables should appear in an appendix.
4. Add the logbook of the experiment in an appendix.
5. Give the chi^2/dof of each fit.
6. Read the report before submission and correct, as you can, for grammer and spelling mistakes.


Observations take place AT NIGHT and are weather-dependent ! Therefore, the Astronomy lab does not take place during usual lab hours. Especially in the winter semester, you will often have to re-schedule due to poor weather conditions. If you take this lab, please contact your instructor ASAP regarding exact dates and keep your evening schedules free of other commitments !

Yakov Faerman
Instructor of the Telescope experiment

Room: Kaplun 501
Phone: 03-6409158