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NYU Physics Department
Observational Astronomy

Course Objectives taken from Spring 2008 Syllabus:

"Observational Astronomy is a course in technical amateur astronomy. The objectives are to learn which astronomical objects can be seen with the naked eye and small telescopes, when and where astronomical phenomena occur, and what is going on. The lectures provide the necessary background material, and lab sessions provide hands on observing activities with binoculars and telescopes when it is clear outside (about 50% of the time), and with maps, globes, and astronomical software when it is cloudy. Specific objectives include: the ability to identify bright stars and constellations; the use of astronomical atlases and handbooks; the ability to locate the planets; a firm understanding of sky coordinates, the seasons, the phases of the moon and eclipses; how to use astronomical telescopes and what can be seen with them. A detailed list of topics and the associated readings are given in the lecture/reading schedule. At the end of the course the successful student will likely be an informed and interested reader of the popular astronomical press such as Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines."


When class is held inside the lab, students use Starry Night Pro Plus software to simulate the sky. The software allows the students to study the motion of the planets and other celestial bodies over timescales that wouldn't be possible by observing the sky over the duration of the class.
The observatory is located on a rooftop. Even though we are in New York city, there are still a surprising number of things that can be easily observed through our telescopes. We have two different telescopes that we use during lab.