Astronomy at College of San Mateo - Student Projects

Student Projects

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

Oct. 8 Lunar Eclipse
CSM student and Astronomy Outreach Club member, Alex Chassy took this image of the October 8 total lunar eclipse. The photo was taken thru a 10" Dobsonian telescope with an iPhone 5 camera. The image was taken ~ 3:45 am, just after totality began.

 lunar eclipse
Total Lunar Eclipse,   Student Alex Chassy

P Cygni Spectra

Student 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 a 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

M15 Globular Cluster
The globular cluster M15 lies 33,000 ly away in Pegasus, contains about 100,000 stars, and spans 175 ly across. Students Alex Chassy and Peter Roomian combined thirty, 60 second images taken with our 20" RC telescope on 8-27-14. Large image.

M15 Globular Cluster    Alex Chassy, Peter Roomian  -CSM Observatory

M20 Trifid Nebula
Messier 20 lies fairly low in the summer sky, 5,200 ly away in Sagittarius. Its name means "divided into three lobes." Students Lukas Fragodt and Christy Conway took 24, 300 second exposures the local night of 8-28-14, to create this image. Large image.

 M20 Trifid Nebula   Lukas Fragodt and Christy Conway   -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

M27 Dumbbell Nebula

ASTR 203 students, Lukas Fragodt and Nick Denton imaged planetary nebula M27 on 8-20-14 using our 140mm f/7 refractor. M27 is about 1.4 light years across and lies 1,300 ly away in the constellation Vulpecula. This image combines nine, 300 second exposures using CCDStack software with final adjustments in Photoshop.

M27                   Lukas Fragodt, 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

Sunspot groups 2034 & 2032
Our sun is currently active with daily displays including sun spots and solar flares. This observatory image taken 04-18-14, shows sunspot groups 2034 (lower left) and 2032 (upper right). We used an 8" SCT telescope @ f/6.3 and Philips SPC900 webcam to image, and Registax software to stack the best 100 video frames. Good seeing conditions reveal the umbra and penumbra in the sunspots.

 Sunspot groups 2034 (lower left) and 2032 (upper right)       -Dean Drumheller, 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

SN2014J Drumheller

Dima 2014j

Emami 2014J

J Amorin 2014J

SN2014J Chassy

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

2014J  M82
    RSpec Screen shot of SN2014J spectra.

Veil Nebula
This small section (15.6 x 23.4 arcmin) of the Eastern Veil Nebula was imaged on 11-5-13 by Special Projects student Alex Chassy. The Veil lies ~1,400 ly away in the constellation Cygnus. Fifteen, 300 second exposures taken with our 20" RC and SBIG ST6303 camera, were combined to create this detailed image.

Veil Nebula
  Veil Nebula   Student Alex Chassy, CSM Observatory

Quasar 3C 273 Red Shift

Using the program RSpec, CSM Observatory recently measured the redshift of distant quasar  3C 273 ~2.5 bly away in Virgo. (3C 273 is also a blazar) Data was taken thru our 140mm TEC f/7 refractor with ST-10 CCD camera the local night of 7-9-13. We used a low resolution Star Analyzer SA-100 diffraction grating and 4x300 second images were median combined, for analysis in RSpec. H-alpha emission line was observed at 7589A (standard H-alpha = 6563A) to yield a redshift, z of .1563. (observed wavelength - standard wavelength / standard wavelength). 3C 273's redshift, z is listed as .1583. Thanks to RSpec developer Tom Field for help in establishing this procedure, to be used by students during Fall semester.

3C 273
 Quasar 3C 273, Rspec graph       Dean Drumheller, CSM Observatory

NGC 4565
This image of edge on galaxy NGC 4565 in Coma Berenices was taken by Alex Chassy with our 20" telescope. 4565 lies 42 mly away, is magnitude 10.4, and contains more than 200 globular clusters. Larger image

ngc 4565
  NGC 4565   Alex Chassy, CSM Observatory  

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

M13 test fits file