By now you should have used the robotic telescope to take some images. This project is to show you how to get the most out of those images and to link into major international projects with your observations. A well thought out project working with ROSAT, AAVSO or ALEXIS data will make a real contribution to research.
ROSAT is a major Xray satellite with many observations that require photometric observations in the visible wavebands to determine whether the variability is due to rotation or some other cause.
AAVSO is the American Association of Variable Star Observers. They are amateurs and have many programmes observing variable stars to develop our understanding of the theory. They have a great deal of experience of observing in the visible and are pleas ed to involve others. They have a Hands-On Astrophysics Journal for schools and many complementary programmes.
ALEXIS is a low energy Xray satellite with a schools programme. You can register and get access to their lists of objects which need ground based visible waveband observations.
The Bradford Robotic Telescope.
The Bradford Robotic Telescope can obtain images of almost any star in the northern sky. A typical job return is available. This includes an image of an area of the Milky Way near NGC6342 . It is assumed that you have already registered with the telescope and you have a user name and password.
The data concerning the observation consists of the job file that is shown in a typical job return a header file and a FITS image file for serious interests or a GIF version.
The job file consists of the details of the request, its scheduling and a Space Telescope Science Institute link to a picture of the same part of the sky. If you download an image and process it using the FITS viewer you can get something like stars1 you can then down load the image from the Space Telescope Science Institute and get stars2 print these out and you will see that they line up exactly. Notice that not all the stars appear to be the same rel ative brightness. Why could this be?
The FITS viewer allows you to process the images that are 16 bits deep to display the image at a level of intensity that will bring out the parts that are significant for your project.
Associated with each observation is also a header file.
The header file gives details of the system as it was configured at the time of the observation. It gives details of the weather and an analysis of the picture which to a first approximation will give you the relative brightness of all the star like ob jects in the image.
You will have to consider the filters that you are using for the different observations as well as the possible variability of the objects. This robotic telescope site is a valuable tool with many parts to it to help you in your research projects. It i s now worth considering the variable stars that were discussed earlier.
With all this information it will be possible to start making observations that could be linked to ROSAT, AAVSO or ALEXIS and plotting out the changing brightness of your target object as compared to the other objects in its field.
Don't forget that there are also support programmes available from us to help you develop your research. (Skyglobe is available from the Bradford Engineering in Astronomy Group or from Hens a gopher://micros.hensa.ac.uk:70/11/micros/ibmpc//dos//f/f688)
Good luck. Let us know how you get on. If you write up your project as if it is a research paper for publication and send it to the University. If we can, we will install it on the Web.
By now you should also be looking at astronomy information on the Web. A good place to start is the Royal Greenwich Observatory who have some information for schools.
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