AY 203 - Observational Astronomy

Students using rooftop telescopes

Course details:

This lab course includes making astronomical observations, with the eye, digital devices, and spectrograph, as well as the use of various kinds of telescopes. The meeting times for the Fall 2013 semester are 7-10 p.m. on Thursday nights (section 1) and Tuesdays (section 2), starting in room 313 of Gallalee Hall. When weather and phase of the Moon permit, some sessions will be held at Moundville Archaeological Park, to take advantage of the darker skies. For more on the course, including possible activities and grading policy, see the syllabus.

Our equipment and techniques:

  • UA 16-inch reflector at Gallalee Hall
  • Location map for astronomy viewing area in Moundville
  • Floating equipment inventory

    Useful links for celestial objects:

  • Observable comets
  • Current phase of the Moon (from US Naval Observatory)
  • Get coordinates of planets, etc. (US Naval Observatory)
  • Interactive sky chart
  • Satellites visible from Tuscaloosa
  • Real-time aurora information
  • Latest satellite weather pictures
  • Asteroid occultations of stars
  • Constellation charts
  • Names, coordinates, and magnitudes of the 518 brightest stars
  • The Messier catalog of bright star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies


  • Making HR diagrams from CCD images of star clusters
  • Setting up charts to find celestial objects
  • Tracking artificial satellites

    Useful Windows downloads

  • Skyglobe 3.6 (zipped archive)
  • Printable pieces for planisphere from Lawrence Hall of Science
  • Iris image-processing program
  • Registax software for combining and enhancing webcam data
  • Cartes du Ciel free skymapping program
  • Data directory for Uranus-moons lab project
    UA Astronomy Home Page | Bill Keel's home page

    Rights, usage, and disclaimer: all original content here may be reused only with written permission of the originator. E-mail wkeel@ua.edu for details. The views, opinions, and conclusions expressed in this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of The University of Alabama or its officers and trustees. The content of this page has not been reviewed or approved by The University of Alabama, and the author is solely responsible for its content. (Yes, I know that sounds odd for a course home page, but them's the rules).

    Last changes: 8/2013