How to Get Credit For Observing Projects in the Astronomy Lab
The Astronomy Lab is located in the Science and Technology Facilities Building on campus. Located on the College of Notre Dame, it was created in 1992 to serve as a center for research in astronomy and to help train new astronomers. The goal is to research new techniques in astronomy and to create technology that will be used in astronomy research. This article will give an overview of what the center offers and some of the different programs that are offered.
The main feature of the astronomy lab is a state-of-the art Large Telescopic Observatory or LS Toledo. This structure is a single, wide-field telescope that is capable of taking very clear images of astronomical objects like queries, other planets, other stars, and other celestial objects. It is also equipped with a robotic arm used to study the surface of the comet Hale-Bopp.
The center also features a virtual observatory that allows people on campus to observe the sky at any time, from anywhere. Over forty different constellations are visible from the LS Toledo and people can choose which ones they would like to view through the Virtual Observatory. People can even choose to observe these stars in a dark sky compliant telescope if they so choose. The Virtual Observatory is funded by a grant from the National Research Council and allows people to work at their own pace.
The second feature of the astronomy department is an introductory guide to telescope design. There are a number of different options for a telescope and the center offers a number of free workshops to help people decide which option best suits their needs. Specialized telescopes are available to help students better understand the nature of the universe and to build telescopes themselves. An eight-week course in the fall provides a good intro to this subject for students who wish to pursue a professional career in astronomy.
An independent online laboratory has been established at the College of Notre Dame as an outgrowth of the astronomy department and includes a telescope and laboratory. A large portion of the structure links up with the main campus and includes one laboratory and two classrooms. This is the place for inquisitive students to work on projects, learn about telescope design, and to develop telescopes of their own. The lab is funded in part by a grant from the Department of Education and allows students to work at their own pace within its constraints.
Students wishing to study astronomy can take advantage of both of these facilities. Those wishing to major in natural science can earn credit hours toward a degree while spending their free time observing projects in the lab. It is possible to study a second major in either of the two programs, natural sciences or physics, as long as a full-time course is completed in the facility. Those not interested in specializing in either of these fields can complete general studies as well.