VP ASL-Astro

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The ASL-Astro experiment is part of the course "advanced physics lab" (VP, Vorgerückten-Praktikum), and registration for the experiment is similar to a standard VP experiment. After registration the ASL supervisor at the institute will contact the students for having a first discussion and introduction into astronomical observations.

Because of the strong weather dependency of the observations the number of students per semester is limited and admission is based on the subscription date at the VP office. The subscription is usually valid for the complete semester, whereas in parallel the students can subscribe for other standard VP experiments (but not for another ASL experiment).

Aim of the experiment

The students will learn the basics of optical astronomical observations, in particular photometry, astrometry, and astrophotography. They will be introduced to different observation and calibration strategies, and they will learn to reduce their data using basic scientific data reduction techniques and software commonly used in astronomy.

Specific astrophysical observations

The range of astrophysical experiments strongly depends on the weather, the season (i.e. availability and visibility of observing targets), and the available instrumentation. The ASL supervisor will typically propose a suitable range of experiments to the students. With the aid of the supervisor the students can also suggest their own ideas and develop a specific observing plan.

Typical experiments will be based on:

  • photometry of solar system planets, star clusters, and deep sky objects
  • Hα observations of galaxies and nebulas
  • determination of planetary masses
  • morphology of galaxies / Messier observations
  • determination of comet orbits


Observations will be carried out using the 50 cm telescope (corrected Dall-Kirkham design) located on the roof of the HPP building. The telescope is installed on a computerized equatorial mount, and as a CCD detector a SBIG STX-16803 camera is used, which can be equipped with various broad-band and narrow-band filters.


VP office

Natalia Engler (ASL-Astro supervisor)


Page URL: http://www.astro.ethz.ch/education/vp-asl-astro.html
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