Dr. Dale Fixsen

Phone: 301-286-0873
E-mail: dfixsen
Office: CSS 1231
Office Hours:
Mon 2:20-3:20PM

Dr. Elizabeth Ferrara

Phone: 301-286-7057
E-mail: eferrara
Office: CSS 1231
Office Hours:
Mon 2:20-3:20PM

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This intermediate-level course for astronomy majors is designed as a hands-on introduction to astrophysical research.

The objective of this course is to introduce astronomy majors to the methods, tools, and processes that professional astronomers use in their work. Science topics include the microwave background anisotropy and its relationship to modern cosmology, as well as detection of high-energy gamma rays and the extreme physics that produces them. We will discuss detection methods, how to handle noise and backgrounds, and estimation of errors throughout the data analysis chain. The final project will be writing a journal ready paper.

With different backgrounds and specialties, the instructors demonstrate a wide range of techniques used by professional astronomers. Dr. Fixsen's expertise is the spectrum of the microwave background and far-infrared & radio studies, while Dr. Ferrara's expertise is searching for new gamma-ray source classes using multi-wavelength observations.

Lecture Date Topics Materials
1 September 9 Introduction and Overview, Astronomy Basics Notes, Lab, Homework
2 September 16 Astronomical Sources and Backgrounds Notes, Lab, Lab Data, Homework
3 September 23 IR & Microwave Astronomy Notes, Lab, Homework
4 September 30 Gamma-ray Generation and Detection Notes, Lab, Homework
5 October 7 IR & Microwave Data Analysis Notes, Lab (same as last week)
6 October 14 The Research Process Notes1, Notes2, Lab, Lab Data
7 October 21 Foreground Subtraction Notes, Lab, Lab Data
8 October 28 Gamma-ray Sources and Signatures Notes, Lab
9 November 4 Microwave Ballooning Notes, Lab, Lab Data
10 November 11 Gamma-ray Data Analysis Notes, No Lab This Week
11 November 18 Multi-wavelength Astronomy Notes, Lab
12 November 25 Science Communication and Paper Writing Notes, Paper Data
... December 2 Dedicated Time for Research Projects
... December 9 Dedicated Time for Research Projects
... Finals Week Presentation of Research Projects