Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Observational Optical Astronomy
Physics 344 --- Fall 2015

Course Information:

This course provides an introduction to the tools and techniques of modern observational astronomy at visible wavelengths. We will use the 20-inch optical telescope of the Schommer Observatory to carry out astronomical imaging and spectroscopic observations, and analyze these observations using professional image-processing software.

Dr. Tad Pryor, 302W Physics & Astronomy Bldg, 848-445-8873,
Office Hour: Wednesday 3:00 - 4:30 PM. Alternatively, call or email for an appointment.

Mr. Jack Hay, 228 ARC,
Office Hour: Thursday 3:30 - 5:30 PM

Lecture: Th period 7 (6:40 - 8:00 PM)
Observing: Su, M, Tu, W, and F nights
Location: 401 Physics & Astronomy Bldg, Busch Campus (enter the door facing Allison Rd and take the stairs to the 4th floor)
OPTIONAL Text: Observational Astronomy, 2nd edition by Birney, Gonzalez, & Oesper, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-85370-5

Image: Composite image of M33 taken with the 0.5m telescope of the Schommer Observatory .


Current Course News

Observing for Lab 4 is underway. Lab 5 is also available and you should look at it and begin searching for the best transit that occurs on your assigned nights in October 16 - 28.

Cloudy weather is forecast through at least Monday night (never mind the possibility of a hurricane). So observing for Lab 3 is done (if you didn't take bias and flat images, contact me). Use the image /home/ph344/lab3/m39-30.FIT for part V of the lab. The date and time when it was taken are in the header. The weather conditions were clear. Use the images in home/ph344/lab3/sep24tp for part VII. The images img.00000033.UCAC_2.0_Star.FIT and img.00000038.UCAC_2.0_Star.FIT contain the asteroid Eunomia (it is the brightest object). These unguided images were taken through light cloud.

Students in this course can access the Physics Department LAWN with their laptop. Your web browser will be directed to a login screen. Select the "Authorized Rutgers NetID" option from the "Status:" line and then enter your NetID and password.

Your RU ID card should now give you access to the building door facing Allison Road, the classroom (Serin 401; the door at the top of the stairs on the left-hand side of the lobby), and the observatory. If your keycard does not work, see Ms. Pamula in room 217 of the Physics & Astronomy Building during regular working hours. Note that a graduate class meets in the classroom from noon to 1:20 PM on Wednesdays and a seminar from 1:30 - 2:30 PM on Thursdays.

I have emailed VNC account names and session numbers to everyone in the class. If you did not receive yours, please email me.

Observing Schedule

Assignments to the observing sessions are below. Let me know if you have a problem with your day/time.

Day Time Student 1 Student 2 Student 3
Sunday 7:00 - 9:00 K. Feigelis N. Fiorino
9:00 - 11:00 P. Faul
Monday 7:00 - 9:00 V. Agostinelli T. Reinhardt J. Rivera
9:00 - 11:00 R. Galinkin
Tuesday 7:00 - 9:00 J. Bradli M. Rutala I. Vallone
9:00 - 11:00 J. McKeegan S. Ray
Wednesday 7:00 - 9:00 J. Patel W. Qawasmi M. Ramekar
9:00 - 11:00 I. Chio J. Curro D. Dutko
Friday 7:00 - 9:00 S. Bruman A. Ioakimidis
9:00 - 11:00 A. Moskowitz G. Pustina

Observing predictions for the Schommer Observatory. In the "cloud cover" line, dark blue is good and white is bad.


Manuals and Handouts

Lecture Slides

Please send any comments on this page to pryor at

Revised November 19, 2015