Physics 134 – Observational Astrophysics – Spring 2012

Meeting time: TTh 2-3:15 in 2302 Broida

Prof Philip Lubin

Office – 2015 C Broida

Class contact email address –

TA: Bill Wolf

Office Hours: Tuesdays 3:30 – 5:00 and Wednesdays 12:00 – 1:30 in the Broida 2302


Class Gmail account:

User: ucsb.physics134

Pass: given in class

Stellarium – – this is very useful in planning your observations.


Events and Links

Physics Department Colloquium: Tuesdays at 4:00 in Broida 1640

Astro Colloquium: Wednesdays at 4:00 in Broida 3302

Astro Lunch Colloquium: Fridays at 12:00 in Broida 3302

LCOGT Colloq usually Thur 4-5 at the LCOGT facility – BUT van to colloq leaves from Physics lot at 3:45 and you must sign up to get room on the van. Van returns you to Broida after talk.

Physics Dept Colloq schedule

Astro web event schedule

LCOGT Colloq Schedule (must sign up for van)

KITP Schedule

LCOGT – Las Cumbres Observatory

Sedgwick LCOGT Observatory

Sedgwick Weather log



LCOGT Tour: Tuesday June 5, in class
Rachel Ross, of LCOGT will be arriving at 1:45 behind Broida in the service entry (between Broida
and the machine shop). Look for the giant van that says LCOGT on it. I will also be there in my car,
so we will be sure to have room for everyone. We will leave promptly at 2:00 PM for the tour of
the facilities, and we will have you back by 3:15 PM. You are all expected to be there, and it should
be quite interesting.


Star Party at BOS: Thursday, June 7 6:30 – ?

The star party at Sedgwick is slated for the evening of Thursday, June 7. We will meet (again) behind
Broida in the service entry (between Broida and the machine shop). YOU NEED TO SIGN UP FOR THIS
There is a document in the class google
account documents called “Sedgwick Trip Drivers” where you should indicate if you are coming. So
far we have around 12 people signed up, and there is plenty of room for more passengers. I’ll send
out driving directions once I have them.


Some safety and logistics information from Rachel: “Bring warm clothes (it should be a bit warmer
this time of the year but on this past Friday it was freezing), water, snacks.  Wear good, closed-toed
shoes.  Bring a flashlight for the walk.  Remind the students that there is plenty of wildlife on the
reserve including mountain lions, coyotes, tarantulas, rattlesnakes, and more (I’ve only ever heard
the coyotes from a distance and seen tarantulas run away from groups).  If anyone has allergies,
bring the appropriate medication as there is a lot of various types of grasses, trees, and other plants.
There are also no facilities on the hill but there are down below.  Walking up to the observatory is a
short walk but there is a fairly steep part (but it is quite short).”


There will be some safety waivers that I will make available before we head out that you’ll have to
sign. I’m still waiting back on knowing what time you can expect to be home.


Mandatory Assignments and Presentations

As usual, you should have completed your short paper on something of interest by 5:00 each Tuesday

and submitted it in the class drive. Additionally, here is an exercise involving blackbodies and color
indices. Have your code file and results for this assignment in the class drive (in the appropriate
directory) by 5:00 on the Friday of finals week.

Exercises here:



We will also be having a few concluding assignments regarding your projects. As a reminder, you
should have two or three science-oriented observing projects and no more than one astrophotography
(pretty picture) project (three projects in all). On Thursday, June 7, in classeach student (or pair, if it
is a group project) will give a 5 minute presentation on ONE of his/her SCIENCE projects.
 This is not
optional, and I will be keeping track of who presents, so be extra sure to be in attendance.


Also, you need to complete a written (typed) report of all three of your observing projects by 5:00 on
the Friday of finals week
. What all is expected is detailed in Gil’s document “phys 134” in google docs
(also on the class drive, I believe). Most of the requirements are also listed on the whiteboard in the
lassroom, I believe.


If you are confused about parts of this, please contact your professor or me. If you are lost, please let
us know sooner rather than later. Please organize all of this into a directory on the class drive for
yourself. There will be no in-class final, so this “portfolio” of sorts will serve as your final project.


Ongoing Information

Class Notes

The most up to date version of the class notes (different than the observation instructions, below)
can be found here.  Copies should be available on the class drive, but they cannot be guaranteed
to be up to date. The version on Dropbox is, by default, always the most up to date version. If you
see mistakes or typos, please let Bill know, or better yet, just correct them yourself and re-typeset
the document!

Also available here:



Astroart Labs

To do the Astroart Labs, follow the tutorial given here. You should be able to do labs 1-3,5, and 6,
but please do check out the others and read what they have to say. A few of the commands
mentioned have been deprecated since this was made, but you should be able to find your way
around anyway. The images needed are present in the Astroart Labs directory on the class drive.
If they are corrupted, you can recreate them with the zipped files present.


Observing with LCOGT’s BOS Telescope

See the quick guide linked below. After your observation is made, the relevant FITS files will be put
on to the class dropbox account (same login information as the Google account). Simply download
your files to your directory on the class drive and begin working with them as you please.

Observation Instructions

To add an observation, click on the “Google Calendar” button, log in on the class gmail account,
and make your edits there. Be careful not to disturb other observations!