Today we will use more of a hands-on approach to learn about stars and their properties. A major topic of the last lab was the evolution of stars. Stars, like people, have lives. They are born, they live out their lives and then they die. Of course, stars do it on much longer time scales. You may be wondering how astronomers know this and whether it can be proven that stars evolve. One of the questions you answered last time was "How do we know stars evolve?" Well, they must.......

In this lab you will operate a virtual observatory to obtain images of stars and nebulas. You will study these images and determine some properties of stars. In the process you will learn how astronomers know that stars evolve. The images that our virtual observatory uses come from "The Digitized Sky Survey". Many of the images were recorded by the world famous Oschin Schmidt Telescope at Palomar, California. This f/2.5 telescope has a 1.26 meter (48") aperture with a focal length of 
3 meters. Keep these numbers in mind when you go to the campus observatory to complete your observing project with a real telescope.

Oschin Schmidt Telescope


  1. Read the background material by clicking on the topics listed on the menu on the left side of this page. For a given topic there may be multiple pages each of which can be accessed using the navigation buttons arranged across the top of each page.

  2. Click on the menu item "Problems". A window should open at the bottom of your screen with the questions.

  3. Use the virtual observatory to obtain images of the objects listed on problems page. Answer the questions from the problems page using the images you have acquired.

  4. Read the section on collapsed stellar cores and answer the relevant questions on the problems page.

  5. Answer the questions by filling in the form fields on the computer. Hit the button labeled "Submit" when you are done. A confirmation page will appear with all your answers imbedded. Be careful not to close the problems window until you are finished and want to submit or your answers may be lost and you will have to reenter your answers.

  6. Check over the confirmation page to make sure that you are happy with your answers. If you need to change your answers go back to step 5 and re-submit. We will only grade the last form you submit.

    Good Luck!