AST 114 - Lab Scripts for Spring 2017.


Print the Pre-Lab Exercises and Lab Scripts, and bring them to class. They are listed below by subject matter. This is NOT the order in which you will be doing these exercises. Make sure you know which exercise your section will do each week: CLICK ON SCHEDULE and follow your TA's instructions! [The correct Lab Scripts are also listed under the Schedule button for each date that your section meets.]

To read and print the lab scripts you will need to install the Adobe Acrobat reader on your computer, if you don't already have it. Use the link below to go and get the software to install. To get Acrobat Reader, click on:

Note that not all of the scripts listed below will be used. Some are backup Labs that may be used if bad weather or other reasons prevent the use of a regularly scheduled Lab. Check the schedule for the actual ones to print, and when in doubt, follow your TA's Email instructions or ask your TA.

Unless otherwise indicated, for each Lab there is a Prelab, which is included as the first page of each Lab's PDF file below. For each Lab, print and read the whole PDF document, AND fill out the Prelab page BEFORE you come to class that night. This gets you well prepared for that Lab, and will help you to use your time more effectively each night.

Preparatory Labs

There are preparatory lab scripts designed to give you information about what we're expecting from you in terms of academic ability, and the kind of lab reports we are expecting you to hand in:

Math Evaluation Exercise - this exercise is meant to be used as a self-assessment. The math level in this class is aimed at the MAT 114 level (general science credit math proficiency) and without these abilities history shows you will likely score a low grade. Use it to make an educated decision about whether you should be taking this class at this time in your education. This exercise is required, but will only minimally count in your grade.  [Lab Script ] (1.1 Mb). A newer version is here: [ Lab Script Spring 2016] (2.0 Mb). Your TA will always tel you which version of each Lab to use. An excellent set of on-line math tutorials is available here: [Online Math Tutorials ] (133 kb).

Graph Paper - [ click here] (232 kb) to print out sheets when needed for the appropriate lab exercises

Naked Eye Labs

Introduction to the Night Sky - For many of you this will be the first critical look at the night sky. You will become familiar with stars, constellations and how the sky moves. This lays essential groundwork for many of the other labs. [Lab Script] (0.7 Mb)

Coordinate Systems - Astronomers use a variety of coordinate systems to locate and track things in the night sky. This lab focuses on those systems and explains the features of the various systems, and asks you to use your star charts with the coordinate systems to locate things in the sky. [Lab Script] (150 kb)

Spectroscopy Lab - This lab is designed to introduce you to spectra and how they are related to light and atoms. It will teach you the different types of spectra and their origins. With this knowledge you will be able to identify different elements from the observed light of astronomical objects. [Lab Script] (6.3 Mb) [Example Spectra]   [Wolfram Spectra]  

BACKUP LAB: Using Your Field Guide and Star Charts - Based on your new-found skills from the previous two naked eye labs, you will be asked to locate and study the positions and motions of objects in the sky. Make sure you bring your star wheel, charts and field guide with you! [Lab Script] (58 kb)

BACKUP LAB: Bright Sky/Dark Sky   This lab will involve comparing the bright sky of ASU to the sky visible from another location. It will be due one week after the campus portion is performed. [Lab Script]

Telescope Labs

Introduction to Telescopes - This exercise introduces you to using telescopes and understanding how they work. It is an essential primer for the rest of the labs in this section. [Lab Script] (0.6 Mb) [Lab Script (Indoor alternative) ] (0.8 Mb)

Magnitudes and Stellar Brightness - You will be introduced to the magnitude system used to measure stellar brightnesses. Using your skills you will then estimate visually the brightness of other unknown stars. [Lab Script] (0.4 Mb)

General Observing You will be completing observations of the sky using binoculars and telescopes. [Lab Script] (56 kb). This exercise introduces you to observing interesting objects that are visible in the night-sky this semester with our telescopes. These are listed here: [Observing List], or: [OLD Observing List]

BACKUP LAB: Exploring the Sun - If your TA says that your section will do this this Lab, the TA office hours will be held during the designated weeks on PSH-4th floor (room TBD) with access to the solar telescope on the 5th floor observing platform. You will use observations made 2-3 days apart to measure the rotation rate of the Sun, to better understand the nature of synodic and sidereal rotation, how the surface of the Sun moves, and how material behaves when it is ejected from the surface. [Lab Script 0.9 Mb)] [Sun Grid for plotting (0.2 Mb)]

Computer Labs

Parallax & Proper Motion - You will be introduced to the concepts of parallax and proper motion as tools to find distances and speeds. The exercise consists of a practical one to illustrate parallax, followed by a computer one to illustrate proper motion. [Lab Script] (162 kb) [Download this xls file in class] (32 kb)

Color-Magnitude Diagrams This lab introduces you to the Color-Magnitude or Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram as a diagnostic tool for studying stars and their physical properties. You will use the Starry Night software package to study the physical nature of many of the common stars in the Spring sky. [Lab Script] (0.4 Mb)

Galaxy Morphology - In this lab, you will be using images of galaxies to learn how to assign Hubble classifications based on the appearance of the galaxies. [Lab Script]

Some TA's will have you use this Galaxy Morphology page.

BACKUP LAB: Supermassive Black Hole Lab - In this Lab, you will learn about one of the deepest mysteries of the universe: much less than 1% of the baryonic mass of the universe (or less than 0.03% of its total energy density) managed to end up in supermassive black holes, from which even objects traveling at the speed of light (such as the photons or light we see) cannot escape. Yes, this very tiny fraction of mass in supermassive black holes surrounds itself with super-bright accretion disks that can outshine all of the stars other galaxies in the universe at all wavelengths, resulting in quasars and radio galaxies that are so bright that they are visible to the very edge of the universe [ (Short version 0.5 Mb)], or [(Honor's version 1.1 Mb)]. This exercise comes with a fabulous webtool that lets you fall into a Supermassive Black Hole, to give you an idea what it is to deal with infinite gravity, and how the monsters inside active galactic nuclei feed themselves: [ ]

Observatory Data Labs

Variable Stars - You will be using real data from real variable stars to try and determine their physical properties and learn something about why stars vary in their apparent brightness as seen from Earth. [Lab Script] (1.4 Mb)

Open Clusters - Open Clusters - Using many of the tools from this semester you will study Open Star Clusters in our galaxy. You will determine the clusters' age and distance using your knowledge of observational astronomy. [2016 Lab Script ] (0.51 Mb) or, if your TA tells you, please use this [ 2011 Lab Script ] (0.51 Mb)

Hubble Expansion Lab - In this Lab, you will learn how Edwin Hubble about the expanding universe, and how the Hubble Space Telescope --- named after him and launched over 60 years later --- has revolutionized astronomy and given us images of the farthest reaches of the universe, almost 13 billion light-years away from us --- so the light emitted by those most distant objects took 13 billion years to reach us. [old Hubble Expansion Lab (use if you are NOT scheduled in computer room PSH 456, 461, or 457 tonight)] (134 kb). This exercise comes with a fabulous webtool that lets you zoom into the Hubble UltraDeep Field at hyperspeed (over 10^12 times the speed of light --- THEORETICALLY!), so that you can make the journey to the edge of the universe in a few minutes instead of in 13 billion years: [ ]. Your TA will tell you if you will be using the [latest Hubble Expansion Lab script ] (349 kb; use only if your are in computer room PSH 456, 461, or 457 tonight). Or, if your TA tells you, use a simpler version of the [older computer-based Hubble Expansion Lab]. Both use this webtool plus its [Hubble Lab spreadsheet] (370 kb).

BACKUP LAB: Mapping the Milky Way - using the density of stars that you see in the Night Sky using binoculars, you will chart out where the plane of our Galaxy goes across our sky. Think of this as really charting your neighborhood! [Lab Script] (1.6 Mb)

BACKUP LAB: Cataclysmic Variables - Along a similar vein, you will use images acquired at ASU's Braeside Observatory to study the light curves of Cataclysmic Variable stars to understand that information can be derived about them and how the light curves constrain models for what they're doing. [Lab Script] (1.1 Mb)