Chat times for 2017-2018
Weds 4:30pm-6pm ET/1:30pm-3pm PT

Dr. Christe Ann McMenomy

Course Materials Under Revision for 2017-2018

Laboratory Requirements and Equipment

 Labs are not required for completion of the course itself; you may do as many or as few as you like. However, you must complete of 12 lab assignments to receive lab credit for the course. Because astronomical observation depends on weather conditions, you may make arrangements to complete labs over the summer if you unable to do so by the end of May, when courses conclude.

Some lab assignments will be available from the web site at the start of the session; the rest will be added through the course of the year to take advantage of current astronomical events. Most labs will be associated with specific topics, and you are encouraged to complete the lab and send in the report during the assignment period. If necessary, you may make arrangements to complete the labs out of sequence if you have trouble obtaining equipment, or the weather doesn't cooperate.

IMPORTANT!!!! For safety reasons, both you and your parents must read the safety procedures before starting the lab sequence. Your parents must sign and send a copy of the lab permission letter to me before I can accept any lab reports from you for credit.

Lab Equipment

  • The best telescope that you can afford.
  • Binoculars, if possible.
  • The current edition of Sky and Telescope magazine, access to online sky observing information, or a planetarium program like Starry Night or SkySafari.
  • Lenses or magnifying glasses
  • Diffraction grating (will be supplied with course for those signing up to do the lab section)


Lab equipment may be borrowed from schools or purchased. Sky and Telescope and Astronomy magazines carry numerous advertisements for manufacturers. You may also want to check my growing list of mail order suppliers.

Another good source of advice on making or using astronomical equipment is the local amateur astronomy club. These are often associated with colleges or businesses, or with larger astronomy interest organizations, such as the Pacific Astronomical Society. Such groups will sponsor observing sessions, and their enthusiastic members will be happy to explain how their equipment works at regular meetings, and even sell you their old stuff as they trade up to bigger and better scopes.