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Quick Contents 
brief overview Resits Laboratory Course
fast facts End of course exam Lab Objectives
course aim Portfolio Lab Assessment
Lecture courses Attendance Marking Scheme
Tutorials & supervisions Problems and counselling Lab Records
Plagiarism Reading List Lab Reports
Study hints Notice Boards Safety
Class tests Observing Opportunities List of Experiments
Performance Assessment Timetable Minimum requirements





4/10/04 NEWS:
Click here to access list

Note about Staff-Student Committee


      Dr Martin Hendry:     Observational Astrophysics

      Dr Graham Woan:     Theoretical Astrophysics

      Dr Lyndsay Fletcher:     Stars and their Spectra

1.1 A brief Overview

This is a 30 credit module, designed to be a link between the elementary astronomy of level 1 and a combined honours degree in Astronomy and Physics, or Astronomy and Mathematics.
The class consists of lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays, together with a class tutorial or a small group supervision session, or occasionally a third lecture, on Fridays. Thus Astronomy 2 students attend on 3 days per week, throughout the two teaching periods.  Laboratory sessions are held at the Garscube Observatory: 12 sessions spread over TP1 and TP2, during which 4 experiments are completed by students working in teams.  There is also a weekend observing trip early in the second term, in which we use our stock of modern telescopes for night sky observation.

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Fast Facts
Class & Lab Head Dr M A Hendry,   Room 607,   tel  ext 5685, email:   martin@astro.gla.ac.uk
 Lectures/tutorials Mon & Wed at 11.00, in Room C407,  Joseph Black (Chemistry) Building;
Fri at 11.00 (mainly tutorials) in Room C407,  Joseph Black (Chemistry) Building
Labs Fri 14.30-17.30, Garscube Acre Road Observatory.
Six sessions in each of TP 1 & 2, beginning 5th November 2004
Entry Requirements At least 20 grade points per credit, accumulated from A1X and A1Y
Prize The top student in the year will be awarded a cash prize.
Exams Formative: Class tests (50 mins) at the end of  Week 16 and Week 23 

Summative: written paper in June (75%) + lab and tutorial exercises (25%). 

Status A2Z is a 30 credit level 2 module in the Faculty of Science.

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1.2 Course Aim & Learning Objectives

Course Aim

Astronomy 2 forms a bridge between Levels 1 and 3, consolidating the elementary material and introducing more advanced concepts in preparation for Honours.

Astronomy 2 focuses on 4 main themes: Observational and Theoretical Astrophysics, Stars and their Spectra, and Relativity and Gravitation.

On completing this course, students will have a clear understanding of:

Learning Objectives

On successful completion of this course, a student should be able to:

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1.3 Lecture Courses

The course has 4 main themes:

Observational Astrophysics

Expanding on Astronomy 1, these 10 lectures will investigate quantitatively the observational tools and methods of data collection and reduction which underpin modern astrophysical observations. Quantitative material will also be presented, to enable estimates to be made of signal-to-noise ratios associated with various relevant experiments and measurements.

Stars and their Spectra

These 10 lectures extend the basic knowledge gained in Astronomy 1 related to stellar phenomena, and will consolidate understanding of radiation laws. Methods of stellar classification will be presented in greater depth, and will include observational criteria for luminosity determination. A range of stellar phenomenology and behaviour will be presented together with basic astrophysical interpretations.

Theoretical Astrophysics

A key area of astrophysics is the interpretation of spectra from many different sources, including planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies. This requires awareness of the relevant atomic and radiation coefficients, and of the statistical distribution of photons, electrons and ions in such sources. These 15 lectures will outline the basics of the required physics, and apply them to astrophysical situations.

Relativity and Gravitation

A 15 lecture course designed to give a quantitative account of special relativity, with particular applications in astronomy. The lectures introduce the relativistic kinematics required in high energy astrophysics and present the concepts of metrics and curvature, as an introduction to general relativity and theoretical cosmology.

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The brief lecture course descriptions above will be augmented by Aims and Objectives, and course summaries, issued by the lecturer during the lecture course. Students are encouraged to use this guide and the Aims and Objectives for study and as a checklist for revision,but PLEASE NOTE: in response to feedback from students during the year, lecturers may omit or modify some material listed in the Course Component Aims and Objectives. Any such changes will be announced in the course of the year Students are advised not to restrict their study to the topics mentioned, and are expected to think about, read around, and solve problems in these topics, in order to learn how to apply the concepts in unfamiliar contexts.

1.4 Tutorials and Supervision

Tutorial questions are usually set every fortnight, to be handed in one week later to the Class Head for marking and assessment by the course lecturers. Marks scored in your tutorials will count as a continuous assessment element in your overall performance, and a minimum level of continuous assessment work MUST be completed in order to receive ANY credit from A2, so it is vital that you complete each assignment. The maximum score on each tutorial varies from assignment to assignment: check the website for details.  Marked scripts will be returned, usually one week after the deadline for completion of the assignment.

Students are allocated to a supervision group consisting of about 4 other students and a staff member acting as supervisor. Each group meets with its supervisor on specified Fridays (see timetable below), continuing into the third term. During these sessions students will have the opportunity to discuss any problems arising in any aspect of the course. To get the best out of these sessions, notify your supervisor in advance of the sorts of problems you want to discuss - you can do this by email, telephone or even on a scrap of paper pushed under the office door. Supervision sessions also provide a forum for more general discussions and even small presentations by the students. They are an essential part of the course: prepare for them, get involved, and you will reap the benefits.

A list of the Supervision groups for this session can be found here.

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1.5 Plagiarism

The University's degrees and other academic awards are given in recognition of the candidate's personal achievement. Plagiarism is therefore considered as an act of academic fraudulence and as an offence against University discipline.

Plagiarism is defined as the submission or presentation of work, in any form, which is not one's own, without acknowledgement of the sources. (With regard to essays, reports and dissertations, a simple rule dictates when it is necessary to acknowledge sources. If a student obtains information or ideas from an outside source, that source must be acknowledged. Another rule to follow is that any direct quotation just be placed in quotation marks, and the source immediately cited.)

Where a candidate for a degree or other award uses the work of another person or persons without due acknowledgement:

1. the relevant Board of Examiners may impose a penalty in relation to the seriousness of the offence;

2. the relevant Board of Examiners may report the candidate to the Clerk of Senate, for action under the Code of Discipline, where there is prima facie evidence of an intention to deceive and where sanctions beyond those in (1) might be invoked.

Note that the above warning is not intended to stop you discussing your tutorial problems or laboratory results with your class mates- in fact we encourage this. You should not, however, use someone else's laboratory measurements without acknowledging this, and naming the person, in your record book. Each laboratory report must be your own unaided work. Neither should you submit someone else's tutorial exercise solution as your own.

(A complete copy of the Senate's June 2002 Statement on Plagiarism is reproduced in the hardcopy Course Guide)

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1.6 Study Hints

Finally, remember there is a great temptation always to study what you know already, and to pretend that the material you haven't yet grasped will somehow be OK later: it won't! Get those areas of uncomfortable doubt cleared up, if not by reading around, then in the supervisions and tutorials.

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1.7 Laboratories

There are 12 three hour laboratory sessions covering astronomical instrumentation, data gathering and interpretation, and computing, giving a total of 36 hours laboratory work.  The first laboratory session is on November 5th 2004.

Students work in pairs and complete at least four experiments: more if time permits, and the best 4 will be used in the practical assessment.  In addition to the normal laboratory record of performance, students will be asked to submit two full reports on experiments performed during the session.  A report is due to be submitted at the beginning of terms two and three. Laboratory work contributes to the second year result, and a minimum performance threshold must be satisfied to gain ANY credit from Astronomy 2 (see Minimum Requirements). Note that the Practical score is based on 4 experiments, each worth 10 marks, and two laboratory reports, each worth 20 marks. The laboratory handbook containing details of the experiments and good experimental procedure forms the second half of this document.

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1.8 Class Tests

There will be a 50 minute class test at the end of Week 16, and also at the end of Week 23. These tests will be held during class time, and will be based on tutorial-type questions. Note that in the past A2 Class Exams were held at the end of each term; this practice is now discontinued, but the past Class Exam Papers (as well as past Degree Exam Papers) are a rich source of questions of degree standard.

The Class Tests are used for feedback; they don't contribute to your overall course grade. However, the continuous assessment element (labwork, lab reports and tutorials) does account for 25% of your grade, with the remaining 75% coming from the end of course examination.

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1.9 Performance Assessment

The following is a paraphrased extract from the current University Calendar. If you need any of the points clarified, it's best to consult your Adviser of Studies.


Each candidate who has satisfied the minimum requirement for the award of credits shall be awarded a grade, and shall earn the 30 credits for this course, and a number of grade points that depends on the grade awarded (and also on the number of credits for which that grade is awarded). This is summarised in the table below:

A Excellent 16
B Very good 14
C Good 12
D Satisfactory 10
E Fair 8
F Poor 6
G Very poor 2

Candidates who fail to satisfy the minimum requirements for the course shall earn nothing.

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1.10 Minimum Requirement for the Award of Credits

In order to satisfy the minimum requirements for the award of grade G and above, a student must normally:

Note that normally no grade or credits shall be awarded to a candidate who does not satisfy the minimum requirements detailed above. Moreover, any student who fails to satisfy the first two conditions might be refused admission to the end of course exam.

1.11 Resits

A candidate who is awarded a grade A, B, C or D after the first examination diet will not normally be allowed to resit the examination. Any other candidate entitled to sit the end-of-course examination shall be entitled to resit the examination, but normally only once, and at the next available diet. The grade awarded as the result of a resit will be no higher than a grade D.

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1.12 End of Course Examination

This examination is held in term 3, in late May or early June, with the resit examination usually in late August or early September. Both have the same structure and consist of a single two and one half hour paper, which will be single marked by the course lecturers. Past papers are available to the students: make sure you get the relevant copies. Overall performance is determined as follows:

Written Paper 75%
Practical  15%
Tutorial 10%
TOTAL 100%

Grade D normally requires an overall score of 40%. Grade B, essential for MSci candidates, is normally set at 60%.

Please note that the scores for tutorial and practical elements are assessed on the maximum available points; students must therefore complete all the required work in order to maximise their score.

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1.13 Portfolio of Written Work

As mentioned above, the final assessment is based upon the written paper, the tutorial work and the practical. Since the latter two are elements of continuous assessment, the onus is on the student to maintain a complete record of performance in these areas. This portfolio of completed work must be submitted at the end of term 3 so that it can be examined by the external examiner. This applies to all students. You are therefore strongly recommended to keep a folder of all your tutorial work, and add to it as the year progresses: this will then constitute part of your portfolio. You can retrieve your portfolio after the end of course exam, but you will need to submit it once again if a resit is required. Laboratory record books and Laboratory Reports will be treated similarly.

1.14 Calculators

Students should note that calculators with the facility to display information graphically, or having the capacity to manipulate formulae symbolically, are banned from use during examinations. Candidates must not bring such equipment into the examination hall. Any calculators of this type found during an examination will be removed, and the examination script endorsed accordingly.

Student must comply with the following extract from the Faculty of Science General Information for Students:

Calculators or other hand-held electronic aids with a facility for either textual storage or display, or for graphic display, are excluded from use in examinations.

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1.15 Attendance

Students are required to attend all lectures, tutorials and laboratory sessions. Attendance will be taken at tutorials and labs, and taken randomly at lectures throughout the year.

If you are absent for medical reasons from one lab session, or from five consecutive lectures, you should complete a Self Certificate of Absence available from the Principal Adviser's Office in the Boyd Orr building, or from the Departmental Secretary, room 508. Please speak to the class / lab head on your return.

In the case of prolonged or frequent absence, a medical certificate must be submitted to the Principal Adviser's office. This must also be done if a student is unable to sit an examination through illness, or if an examination performance has been adversely affected by ill health. More details can be found in the Registry Handbook, or at the Registry web site:


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1.16 Problems ...

Please don't suffer in silence. If you have any difficulties with the course, whether in understanding the lectures or related to personal circumstances, please don't hesitate to broach the subject with us. You can approach the class head, the lecturers concerned, your adviser of studies or your supervisor. Don?t forget that there are professionals on the campus who can offer confidential and sympathetic advice on personal matters: the Student Counselling Service at 65 Oakfield Avenue is there to help (contact ext 4528).

1.17 Reading List

The recommended course text book:

An Introduction to Modern Astrophysics, by B W Carrol & D A Ostlie, published by Addison-Wesley ISBN 0-201-54730-9.

This book is considered an essential purchase, and all students are expected to have access to a copy.

For wider background reading, students may find the following list useful:

Principles of Cosmology and Gravitation, by M V Berry, Hilger

Introduction to Stellar Astrophysics, Vol 1: Basic Stellar Observations and Data, by Böhm-Vitense, CUP.

Astrophysical Techniques, Kitchin, Hilger

Astronomical Observations, Walker, CUP

Astronomy - Principles and Practice, 3rd Ed, A E Roy & D Clarke, Hilger

Special Relativity, French, Chapman & Hall

Stars and their Spectra, Kaler, CUP

Fundamental Astronomy, Second Enlarged Edition, H Karttunen, P Kröger, H Oja, M Poutanen and K J Donner, Editors, Springer Verlag

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1.18 Notice Boards and Website

Information on all aspects of the class is available on the notice boards: (i) in the foyer of the Garscube Observatory; and occasionally (ii) in the glass fronted cupboard in the corridor on level 6, Kelvin Building. Since there is no 'dedicated' notice board outside the A2 Lecture Theatre, you should regard the course website as the main source of information - and your first point of contact for news updates - about A2Z. Get into the habit of checking the course website regularly; you will find links to fresh items of news on the homepage. (Important news items will also be sent by email to all class members, so check your emails regularly too!).  The set work for tutorials will be displayed on the website, as will the lecture timetables and information concerning the laboratory sessions.

1. 19 Observing opportunities

Weather permitting, voluntary night observing sessions - in conjunction with Astrosoc - may be organised periodically at the Garscube Observatory: keep an eye on the website and your email for further information. There will be an observing trip in February 2005 to a remote, dark site in the north of Scotland at which students will be able to use state-of-the-art telescopes: more information about this trip will be provided early in the new year.

1.20 Student - Staff Committee

Astronomy 2 elects one representative to the departmental Student - Staff Committee. Nominations will be called for in October, and the representatives elected before week 5. Agenda and minutes of the committee meetings will be posted on the notice board and website.

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1.21 Student facilities

The department provides common room on level 4, open to staff and all students enrolled in departmental courses. The common room has vending machines and can be used for study, though it isn't quiet. The student library is located in room 332 and has a small study area, in which a copy of every course textbook can be found. Access information is displayed on the main notice boards throughout the building, and in the common room itself.

Astrosoc is the student astronomical society, which undertakes to arrange social events and invited talks on burning issues of relevance to modern astronomers. Why not liven up your academic life, and participate socially? Don't forget the other student organisation within the department: Physoc. Membership of these two sociable societies should brighten up many aspects of your departmental career!

1.22 Future Moves

We hope you will continue with your astronomy studies. Astronomy is offered as a Combined Honours degree with either Physics or Mathematics, each at BSc or MSci level; for details about entrance requirements, see the relevant part of the general section in the Departmental Handbook.

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1.23 Provisional Timetable

All Monday and Wednesday lectures are at 11.00, in Room C407 of the Joseph Black (Chemistry) Building.  Friday tutorials (and occasional lectures) are also in Room C407.  (Directions to this room is given here).  Friday Supervision Group meetings are in the Office of your supervisor.

Astronomy 2Z Timetable

Session 2004-2005

27/09 - 01/10
No Lecture
OA: 1
No Lecture
OA: 2
No Lab
04/10 - 08/10
RG(I): 1
No Lecture RG(I): 2 No Lecture SUP
No Lab
11/10 - 15/10
OA: 3 No Lecture RG(I): 3
No Lecture OA: 4
No Lab
18/10 - 22/10
RG(I): 4
No Lecture RG(I): 5
No Lecture SUP
No Lab
25/10 - 29/10
OA: 5 No Lecture RG(I): 6 No Lecture TUT: RG(I)
No Lab
01/11 - 05/11
No Lecture
No Lecture RG(I): 7 No Lecture SUP
08/11 - 12/11 OA: 6
No Lecture RG(I): 8
No Lecture TUT: OA
15/11 - 19/11 OA: 7 No Lecture RG(I): 9
No Lecture SUP
22/11 - 26/11 RG(I): 10 No Lecture RG(II): 11 No Lecture OA: 8
29/11 - 03/12
RG(II): 12
No Lecture RG(II): 13 No Lecture SUP
11 06/12 - 10/12
OA: 9
No Lecture RG(II): 14 No Lecture TUT: OA+RG
13/12 - 17/12
No Lecture
No Lecture
RG(II): 15
No Lecture
OA: 10
Christmas Break
10/01 - 14/01
17/01 - 21/01
15 24/01 - 28/01 TA: 1
No Lecture TA: 2 No Lecture SS: 1 LAB
16 31/02 - 04/02
TA: 3 No Lecture SS: 2 No Lecture Class Test
17 07/02 - 11/02
SS: 3
No Lecture TA: 4
No Lecture SUP
Field Trip
18 14/02 - 18/02
SS: 4
No Lecture TA: 5
No Lecture TUT: TA
19 21/02 - 25/02
TA: 6  No Lecture TA: 7 No Lecture SUP
28/02 - 04/03
TA: 8 No Lecture SS: 5 No Lecture TUT: SS
07/03 - 11/03
TA: 9 No Lecture SS: 6 No Lecture SUP
14/03 - 18/03
TA: 10 No Lecture SS: 7 No Lecture TUT: TA
Easter Break
23 11/04 - 15/04
TA: 11
No Lecture TA: 12 No Lecture Class Test
No Lab
24 18/04 - 22/04
SS: 8
No Lecture TA: 13
No Lecture SUP
No Lab
25 25/04 - 29/04
SS: 9
No Lecture TA: 14
No Lecture TUT: SS
No Lab
26 02/05 - 06/05
No Lecture TA: 15 No Lecture SUP No Lab
27 09/05 - 13/05
SS: 10
No Lecture No Lecture
No Lecture No Lecture
No Lab
*catch-up lab
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Observational Astrophysics         OA                Dr Martin Hendry         10 lectures        Room 607    ext5685

Relativity and Gravitation - I     RG(I)              Dr Declan Diver           10 lectures        Room 606    ext 5686

Relativity and Gravitation - II   RG(II)             Prof John Brown            5 lectures         Room 609   ext 5182

Theoretical Astrophysics (TA)                          Dr Graham Woan         15 lectures         Room 617    ext 5897

Stars and Their Spectra (SATS)                       Dr Lyndsay Fletcher      10 lectures        Room 618    ext 5311

Astronomy 2 Laboratory
Laboratory Head Dr Martin A. Hendry       room 607     ext 5685
Laboratory Technicians Mr Matt Trainer, Mr Colin Hunter
Demonstrators  To be confirmed


2.1 Timing & Location

The class meets on six Friday afternoons in TP1 and TP2 at the Observatory at Acre Road, off Maryhill Road. Attendance is from 2.30 to 5.30 p.m. The dates for each term will be notified in the A2Z timetable. There will be a catch-up lab at the end of each term's lab allocation, so that students can finish off experiments, if necessary.

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2.2 Objectives of the course

The aim of the class is to introduce various techniques of astronomical measurement and of data analysis. It is intended that the class will develop further your skills for making measurements, for analysis of data, for working co-operatively with others and for the presentation of written reports.

Specifically, the practical sessions are designed to

Note that the labs are not merely an adjunct to the lectures, but are instead a valid, independent teaching medium in which new concepts can be introduced in a practical way. Given the timing of the labs, some material may be required to learned in advance of its presentation in the lectures. The best way to tackle such labs is to prepare before starting the exercise, and so students should find out in advance to which experiment they will next be assigned.

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2.3 Laboratory Assessment

Working in pairs

You will work in pairs and are required to complete a minimum of four experiments from the list given below with three afternoons allowed for each. It is expected that each member of a pair will co-operate with the other to ensure that the work is shared equitably and carried out efficiently This will help develop the personal skills and attitudes which are required to operate within a group.

There have been occasional cases in the past in which a student has only attended on one of the three afternoons allocated to an experiment but has handed in a report for the experiment and claimed credit for having carried out the work. This is clearly not satisfactory and it will be necessary for each student to demonstrate that he or she was present during the carrying out of an experiment and participated fully in it before being able to claim credit for it. However, due allowances will be made for illness or other unavoidable circumstances which might cause absence from the practical class.

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Laboratory Records

You each must have a suitable lab book, namely a bound A4 book including graph paper. The experiments performed have to be written up fully as lab records, using your lab book. This book will be used to record ALL data, to graph results and to record conclusions. Although it does not have to be pristine, it must however describe clearly all measurements undertaken, including a full disclosure of all data and equipment used, and must state equally clearly the results and conclusions of the experiment you performed. Sufficient theory should be included to make the account clear and understandable; you may wish to make additional notes relevant for the laboratory report.

There is sufficient time allocated within the laboratory sessions to enable you to complete a lab record; you will not normally be allowed to proceed to another experiment without presenting a definitive record of an experiment. Remember the key points:

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Marking Scheme

The marking scheme for a lab record is usually as follows:

Mark Guide to Lab Record Grading Criteria
0-3 lab not completed or largely incomplete; inadequate performance.
4-5 lab substantially complete, adequate results, but below average interpretation of results; rushed attempt, with for example, poor quality data not recognised as such
6-7 lab completed, with a competent set of results, and a reasonable attempt at interpreting the data and quantifying errors
8-10 a very good lab performance producing a sound result; clear understanding evident, in addition to careful data taking and a thorough quantification of errors. Placing results in a wider context, and optimal performance of the experiment earn higher marks.

Note that the neatness or otherwise of the lab record will not feature significantly in the assessment; as long as the lab is legible, the criteria above will be applied to the content, rather than the presentation. If you have any queries about the mark you received for a particular experiment, don't hesitate to raise it with the lab head.

Laboratory Reports

Two of your completed experiments must be written up fully as reports as part of the "continuous assessment" element of the course; guidelines about what is expected from the reports are included in this document. Normally one report will be required per term. Each lab report is marked out of 20.


There will be two demonstrators and the lab head at each session. Please don?t hesitate to ask if there is anything unclear about the experiment. The staff will come round each experiment periodically and ask to see your lab record, so please keep it up to date. Demonstrators will judge whether or not an experiment has been completed on the basis of your lab notes; the record books will be marked by the class head, though you may be allowed to proceed to another experiment before this happens, depending on the prevailing circumstances.

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Laboratory Sheets

Detailed descriptions of each experiment are maintained as Laboratory Sheets, available from the demonstrators. Since apparatus is continually being updated and improved, the lab sheets are held centrally to avoid inappropriate notes being distributed. Please retain your lab sheets for future reference, but don?t use them to record data!

2.4 List of Experiments

An up-to-date list of the experiments available at the Observatory can be found here.

2.5 Safety

Students must be aware at all times of the need to work safely in the Observatory. All students are required to read:

  1. the Code of Safe Practice for Undergraduate Students, which can be found here;
  2. the guidelines on Safety in the Observatory, reproduced below
Students will be required to sign that they have received these documents, and have agreed to abide by them.  (Some experiments may require students to use the Observatory Darkroom for photographic development work, although these experiments – using photographic plates – have generally become obsolete with the introduction of modern electronic detectors.  Additional guidelines on Safety in the Darkroom will be given out to students as and when they are required).

2.6 Safety in the Observatory

The attention of students is drawn to the following points. Many of these are pure common sense; that does not diminish their significance but makes non-observance of them more reprehensible.

The First Aid Officer is Colin Hunter, in the Workshop tel ext. 30.

The First Aid Box is also located in the Workshop.

1. Care must be taken when using any electrical or electronic equipment. This is particularly necessary when using high voltage apparatus, e.g. photomultipliers.

2. Under no circumstances may the sun be viewed directly through any optical aid, however small - telescope, coelostat, etc. Even momentary direct exposure of the eye to focused solar radiation will lead to permanent damage to eyesight, even blindness. So never look directly at the sun through a telescope.

3. The use of photographic chemicals in the darkroom requires caution. Some are poisonous, some corrosive and some may produce skin irritations. Before using any chemical, make sure you are familiar with the accompanying instructions. Use the safety gloves and glasses provided.

4. Equipment in the workshop is not to be used by students. In fact students should regard the workshop as out of bounds unless they have the express permission of the laboratory supervisor or whoever is on duty at the time, or in an emergency request for first aid.

5. Telescope / Coelostat Domes

(i a) Telescope Dome: go up and down the stairs carefully, avoiding the upper floor beam with you head.

(i b) Coelostat Dome: in gaining access to the roof, make sure the ladder is secure. Take care with respect to the restricted headroom. Hard hats are available and should be worn.(ii) Make sure that the hooks holding the hatches are secure, and do not use the hatches as a handrail. The hatches must not be left open when the telescope/coelostat is being used or adjusted.

(iii) Keep your hands clear of the rail when the dome-turning motor is in operation. In case of difficulty press the red button to stop the dome-turning motor.

6. Please note the location of the fire exits in the Garscube Observatory:

(i) in the library

(ii) at the end of the corridor between laboratories E and F.

7. Please note: the first aid box is in the workshop; the first aid officer is Colin Hunter, workshop technician.

8. Every experiment has an accompanying instruction sheet. Comments on safety relevant to that experiment are included in the sheet. Study the sheet carefully before beginning the experiment.

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The writing of laboratory reports should be treated as an important part of the work of the practical class. Not only does it describe the work which you have carried out and allows the assessment of its quality, but it also provides an essential training in the writing of papers and reports for any subsequent professional career. It is just as an important communications skill as having the ability to present a clear and well reasoned talk and should be treated as such.

Laboratory reports should normally be word-processed using facilities either at the observatory or in the departmental open access cluster. A combination of Word for Windows and Excel should provide the author with an appropriate range of tools (such as text & mathematics typesetting, data tables, graphs etc) for a professional presentation of experimental work undertaken in the laboratory.

It is difficult to provide precise rules for the writing of the laboratory reports for this class because of the wide diversity of experiments but there are some well defined guidelines which can be used and which may serve you well elsewhere at university and after you leave. In the paragraphs below is a suggested layout which satisfies the crucial requirements for a good report:

The first and most important of these is that the report must be written in a way that allows an understanding of the experiment by a person who has no detailed knowledge of the experiment but who has appropriate basic knowledge of the subject. The question to ask yourself is "Could another student in my class carry out this experiment from my report? Am I providing all the necessary information?." This is the essential feature of any satisfactory report but it does not mean that you can simply reproduce the instruction sheets provided for the experiment. Along with the results obtained, this feature of your report demonstrates the extent to which the experiment was understood.

Abstract or Overview

The report should usually begin with a brief but sufficiently complete description of any underlying theory so that the reader can understand the basic principles of what was done. This can assume a reasonable basic knowledge of Astronomy and will be very brief in some cases but it is normally an essential preliminary to the description of the experiment itself. It also serves the important purpose of getting the readers mind into tune with the theory and methods involved in the experiment.

Experimental Apparatus and Method

The next part will usually contain a description of the apparatus and the way in which the experiment was performed. There is no need to give a list the pieces of apparatus involved but this part should be sufficiently complete that, even without any prior knowledge of the apparatus or experiment, the reader will understand clearly what was done. There is no point in saying, for example, "The fringe positions were measured using the microscope" when neither the fringes or microscope have already been introduced. Diagrams are often essential and certainly should be used whenever possible to make the explanation clearer. Although it might seem that these requirements will demand a large section, there is also the need to have the report as brief as possible so that all unnecessary detail has to be minimised. The essential guideline should be "Would I understand what was done in the experiment from reading the report?" and this is what you must apply.


The results obtained and the analysis which gives the final results and conclusions should be in the next section. There should be enough numerical information to allow the reader to reproduce the analysis but there is no need to give the arithmetical details. It is reasonable to assume that the reader will have a calculator. Error analysis should be carried out whenever possible and, if appropriate, comments should be made about the most important sources of the uncertainties in the final results. At all times, the report should demonstrate that the experimental uncertainty in each measurement was considered and that all reasonable efforts were made to assess it and to minimise it.

Conclusions and Discussion

The final part gives the conclusions and any relevant comments on the experiment, including its weaknesses and limitations. Putting your results into a broader context should be done here (eg do your results agree with published data, and if not, why not?).

Obviously, there can be many variations on what has been described. If the experiment has more than one part, the pattern above might be repeated separately for each. Some experiments are computer based. In this case, there might be a large section on the theory behind the analysis carried out, a very small or even no section on the apparatus followed by a large section on the analysis. Use your common sense and, again, always think about how easily you would be able to read the report and understand it.

Do not simply reproduce word for word the contents of the lab sheets!

The normal style of reports is in the third person and this should be used. However, it should not be written as a set of instructions. It is to be a description of what you did and not a recipe.

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2.8 Coffee Break

There will be a short coffee/tea break in every lab, usually around 4pm. Drinks and biscuits are on sale at the Observatory.  There is also a small shop close to the Observatory (turn right at the junction with Acre Road) if you want to purchase other items.

2.9 Video Presentations

In the third term, after completion of the Laboratory Programme, students will have the opportunity to give an informal presentation of their lab work.  We will video this, so that students can review their performance (but the tapes will be erased!).  This will be an entirely optional exercise, so don't worry, but it will be a useful one for future parts of your course.  Details will be given nearer the time.

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last updated 24/09/04

M.A. Hendry, Class & Lab Head