Astronomy at College of San Mateo - Student Projects
Spring Recess
March 22-28, 2015
Memorial Day Weekend
May 23-25, 2015
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Student Projects

W Ursae Majoris
Contact binary star WUma lies ~170 ly away in the constellation Ursa Major. Students George Derugin and Ryan Dewitt took data of WUma from our observatory the local night of 3-11-15 between 8:30 and 9:52 PM.  A non-variable comparison star used to perform photometry in Maxim DL, appears at bottom of the graph.   X= time (JD)  Y= magnitude  JD converter

    WUma      George Derugin and Ryan Dewitt, CSM Observatory

M95 & M96
Galaxy pair M95 (left) and M96 (right) in the constellation Leo, are part of the local Virgo Supercluster of galaxies. Student Ryan Dewitt combined twelve, 300 second exposures to create this image taken with our 180mm TEC refractor and SBIG STXL-6303 CCD camera on 3-18-15. The field of view is 50.2 x 75.3 arcmin.   Larger Image

M95 96
        M95   M96        Ryan Dewitt, CSM Observatory

Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2
On the local evening of Feb 23, ASTR 204 student Peter Roomian took 100, one-minute images of C/2014 Q2 thru our 140mm refractor. This photo is a combination of the images, manually aligned in CCDStack. Comet Lovejoy was closest to Earth on January 7th and is still visible in backyard scopes. More info. More info. Larger image.

Lovejoy C/2014 Q2
Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2        -Peter Roomian, CSM Observatory

Fishhead Nebula

IC 1795 is a star forming region about 6,000 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia. ASTR 204 students Alex Chassy and Peter Roomian combined ten, 300 second exposures taken thru our 20" RC telescope to create this image.  Larger image.

Fishhead Nebula

LHIRES Lite spectra
With our new Lhires Lite spectroscope, students can dial in live views of the solar spectrum. These images were taken with an iPhone 5 held to the spectroscope's eyepiece. Shown here are the strong H-beta line (blue), Magnesium lines (green) and the Sodium doublet (orange).

     H beta  Magnesium lines Sodium doublet
Hydrogen, Magnesium, and Sodium lines thru Lhires Lite  -CSM Observatory

Oct. 23 Solar Eclipse
Image taken with iPhone thru 8" SCT @ f/6.3 from CSM Observatory.

solar eclipse
   Partial Solar Eclipse     Dean Drumheller, CSM Observatory

Pulsating Variable DY Peg
Photometry of short period SX Phoenicis variable DY Peg.  58 data points taken 11-07-14 UT

DY Peg     Dean Drumheller, CSM Observatory

Exoplanet Qatar-1 b
Using our 140mm f/7 refractor, astronomy student Lukas Fragodt took data of exoplanet Qatar-1 b, during transit of its parent star (GSC4240:470) the local night of 11-24-14. This graph shows 60 data points taken between 7:50 pm and 10:14 pm local time.  Download the csv data.  JD time conversion tool.

Qatar-1 b
   Qatar-1 b    Lukas Fragodt, CSM Observatory

CY Aquarii
Variable star CY Aquarii is an SX Phoenicis type variable. These stars have lower metalicity and very fast periods. Studen Nick Denton took data of CY Aquarii with our 180mm refractor the local night of Oct. 1. A period of 1 hour and 46 minutes was observed, with an expansion time of 32 minutes and contraction time of 1 hour, 14 minutes.

CY Aquarii
              CY Aquarii light curve                Nick Denton, CSM Observatory

Firecracker Galaxy
Spiral galaxy NGC 6946 lies 22 Mly away in the constellation Cepheus.  This image is a combination of 25 - 5 minute exposures taken by students Alex Chassy and Peter Roomian thru our 180mm refractor. Images processed and combined in CCDStack.  Large image.

NGC 6946
                 NGC 6946              Alex Chassy, Peter Roomian                       -CSM Observatory

NGC 891
Edge-on galaxy NGC 891 lies 23 Mly away in the constellation Andromeda. Five, 300 second images were taken by students Ryan Dewitt and George Derugin on 10-27-14, with our 140mm TEC refractor. The images were combined by George Derugin using CCDStack software. NGC 891 looks similar to images of our own Milky Way taken from Earth.
Larger image.

NGC 891
NGC 891        George Derugin & Ryan Dewitt,  CSM Observatory

Double Cluster
The famous Double Cluster in Perseus lies 7.5 kly away. CSM student Lukas Fragodt combined 28, one-minute exposures in CCDStack, to create this image. CCDStack's deconvolution tool was applied. Both clusters are headed toward Earth.  
Larger image.

Double Cluster      Lukas Fragodt, CSM Observatory

M33 galaxy in Triangulum lies just 3 million light years away, and can barely be glimpsed naked eye, under dark skies. CSM student Ryan Dewitt combined 10, five minute images for this final result. M33 is in our local group of galaxies.  Larger image.

M33         Ryan Dewitt, CSM Observatory

Classified as a globular cluster, M71 lies 13,000 ly away in the constellation Sagitta. Student Nick Denton combined twenty, 5 minute images taken with our 20" RC telescope for this image.  ~27 ly across, this loosely packed globular cluster is 10 billion years old and contains about 13,000 suns.  Larger image.

   M71             Nick Denton, CSM Observatory

Bubble Nebula
The Bubble Nebula NGC7635, lies about 10,000ly away in the constellation Cassiopeia. Students Alex Chassy and Peter Roomian took this image thru our 20" RC telescope. Four, 300 second exposures were combined using CCDStack software. The stellar wind creating the bubble, comes from the 8.7 magnitude star within the bubble, near the bottom.  Larger image

NGC 7635
                 NGC 7635                             Alex Chassy, Peter Roomian   -CSM Observatory

Pelican Nebula
The Pelican Nebula is an H II region 1,800 ly away in the constellation Cygnus. This detailed image taken by students Peter Roomian and Alex Chassy is a combination of four, 5 minute exposures taken thru our TEC180 refracting telescope.
 Larger image.

   Pelican Nebula in Cygnus    Peter Roomian & Alex Chassy   -CSM Observatory

Tadpole Galaxy
The unusual Tadpole Galaxy, lies 420mly away in Draco, and results from the interaction of two galaxies. Students Ryan Dewitt and George Derugin combined ten, 5 minute images taken thru our 20" RC telescope, to create this image.

Tadpole Galaxy
    Tadpole Galaxy  George Derugin, Ryan Dewitt  -CSM Observatory

Exoplanet TrES-2b
Students Ryan Dewitt and George Derugin took data of transiting exoplanet TrES-2b the local night of 10/08/14. 36 data points are graphed here showing the transit centered ~ 8:51 local time (JD converter).  TrES-2b lies 750 light years away in Draco and is a Hot Jupiter type exoplanet. TrES (Trans-atlantic Exoplanet Survey) is a network of telescopes searching for planets orbiting bright stars.  

   TrES-2b    CSM students Ryan Dewitt and George Derugin

TT Del
Students Lukas Fragodt and Christy Conway took data of eclipsing binary star TT Del the local night of Aug 27, 2014. The graph below shows TT Del's light curve during primary eclipse. 30 data points are plotted covering ~ 62 minutes.  The ToM (Time of Minimum), or mid eclipse was Aug 28 04:25:40.8 UT.  See JD converter. Original data processing in Maxim DL, with graph done in Excel.

tt del
   Eclipsing binary TT Del   Lukas Fragodt, Christy Conway    -CSM Observatory

P Cygni Spectra

Sudent Nick Denton took spectra of star P Cygni the local night of 9-8-14. The graph below shows H-alph hydrogen line ~ 6562 Ang. and strong Helium feature to the right.

P Cygni is a very rare type of star.  It is a blue supergiant known as a luminous blue variable or LBV star, and lies ~ 6,300 light years distant. Its spectrum shows a very prominent hydrogen alpha line and a less prominent ionized helium line.  Both lines show an emission and an absorption component.

The red shifted emission component is from the outwardly expanding shell of hot gas. The blue shifted absorption component is from hot gas expanding towards the observer.  This classic P Cygni profile indicates that this star is losing mass at the rate of 1 solar mass every 10,000 years.”  -Professor Stanford

P Cygni
  P Cygni spectrum       Nick Denton   CSM Observatory

Lagoon Nebula
M8 the Lagoon Nebula lies 4,100 ly away in Sagittarius. An emission nebula, M8 is barely visible under dark skies. Students Peter Roomian and Alex Chassy took this image through our new 8" TEC refractor with STXL-6303 CCD camera.  Larger image

  M8 Lagoon Nebula     Alex Chassy & Peter Roomian  -CSM Observatory

Neptune / Triton
At magnitude 13.4, Triton is the brightest of Neptune's 14 known moons and has a retrograde orbit ~ 220,000 miles above Neptune. Triton is made of ~ 25% water ice, with a thin nitrogen atmosphere. Student Nick Denton took this 10 second image with our 140mm refractor and ST-10 CCD camera the local night of 9-22-14.

  Neptune/Triton   -Nick Denton, CSM Observatory

M16 Eagle Nebula
The Eagle Nebula lies 7,000 ly away in the constellation Canis Major. Student Ryan Dewitt combined four, 300 second images taken 8-27-14 with our 140mm refractor and ST-10 CCD camera to create this image. The famous Pillars of Creation are visible at center. Large image.

  M16 Eagle Nebula    Ryan Dewitt  -CSM Observatory

This image of M27 the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula was taken by ASTR 203 student Nick Denton with our 20" RC telescope the local night of 8-26-14. Ten, 300 second images were combined in CCDStack to create this image. Large image.

    M27 Dumbbell Nebula   Nick Denton   -CSM Observatory

M101 Galaxy
M101 the Pinwheel Galaxy lies 20 Mly away in Ursa Major, and is 170,000 Ly across. ASTR 203 student Nick Denton combined twelve, 300 second images taken with our TEC180 f/7 refractor, to create this image. Final adjustments and cropping in Photoshop. 

M101 Denton
  M101 Pinwheel Galaxy                  Nick Denton, CSM Observatory

M86 / Virgo Cluster
M86, the brightest galaxy left of center in this image, lies within the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, as does our Milky Way. Here we see a small fraction of perhaps 2,000 galaxies in the Virgo Cluster. This image by student Alex Chassy, was created by combining eight, 5 minutes exposures taken thru our TEC140 refractor.

Chassy M86
    M86 / Virgo Cluster   Alex Chassy, CSM Observatory

SN2014J Spectra
Here we are posting some of our low resolution spectra, beginning 01-24-14UT, of Type 1a supernova SN2014J in M82.  Data from Alex Chassy, Jackelin Amorin, Ali Emami, Dmitry Ryashchentsev, and Dean Drumheller show changes in SN2014J expansion rate, measured from the Si II (Silicon) line. (rest wavelength 6355A)

Data is dark subtracted.  ~ 8 five minute exposures are median combined. Spectra is taken thru our 140mm TEC refractor, and ST-10 CCD camera, with 200 RO diffraction grating filter. Dispersion ~16 Ang/Pixel.  All processing with RSpec.

"We observe distinct changes in the Si II region of SN2014J spectra in the form of a possible shock wave, beginning 03-08-14 UT. This shock wave is slowing down due to expansion of the supernova ejecta, which in turn results in lower density, and a temperature drop. CSM students will continue monitoring this exciting event. Watch for further posts!"      -CSM Astronomy Department

Emami 2014J

SN2014J Chassy

This image shows host galaxy M82 and SN2014J spectra (between yellow bars).

2014J  M82
    RSpec Screen shot of SN2014J spectra.

M3 RR Lyrae variables
This 2 image video of globular cluster M3 by student Peter Roomian, reveals about a dozen RR Lyrae type variable stars. Their pulsation periods range from ~5 to 15 hours. These short period variables make excellent standard candles for measuring distances out to 2.5 million light years. Peter imaged M3 with our AP130 refractor and ST2000 camera on loan from Dr. Ken Lum of San Mateo County Astronomical Society.

Comments welcome

Student Resources

NASA Julian Date converter
RSpec real time spectroscopy here