Astronomy at College of San Mateo - Student Projects

Student Projects

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

The Crab Nebula M1 lies 6,000 light years away in the Constellation Taurus, and has a radius of 5.5 light years. Student Jackie Amorin combined 10, five minute exposures taken with our 20" RC telescope to create this image.

M1 Amorin
   M1 Crab Nebula    Jackie Amorin, CSM Observatory

Barred spiral
 galaxy M77 lies 47 million light years away in the constellation Cetus. Special Projects student Alex Chassy took this image with the 20" RCOS telescope and SBIG 6303 camera. Eight, 300 second exposures were combined for the final image, showing the galaxy's core and faint outer arms. Processing was done in CCDStack.

M77 Chassy
  M77 in Cetus     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

Lunar Eclipse
This 04-14-14 lunar eclipse image was taken by CSM Astronomy professor Darryl Stanford, just after totality during a moment of clear skies.
Camera: Sony DSC-HX300, ISO 1000, f 6.3 at 3 seconds. Image was taken on campus.

Learn about upcoming lunar eclipses.

04-14-14 Eclipse
  4-14-14 total lunar eclipse, just after totality.   CSM campus.     Image: Professor Darryl Stanford

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.

M42 Orion Nebula
Student Ali Emami took this image of M42, a diffuse nebula located in Orion's belt. Ali joined twelve, 300 second exposures taken thru a 130mm refractor and ST2000 CCD camera.  Processing done with CCDStack.

Emami M42
   M42  Ali Emami, CSM Observatory

BU Vul
Type G0 10th magnitude star BU Vul, is an Algol type (detached) eclipsing binary in the constellation Vulpecula. Using Maxim DL photometry tool, student Ali Emami created this light curve (Excel) using 60 data points from images taken 11-08-13 UT. The ephemeris generators at Rolling Hills Observatory and Mt. Suhora Astronomical Observatory were used for target selection.

bu vul
   BU Vul eclipsing binary   -Ali Emami, CSM Observatory

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
CSM telescope/camera information here.
RSpec real time spectroscopy here