Rutgers University Department of Physics and Astronomy

Observational Optical Astronomy
Physics 344 --- Fall 2016

Course Information:

This course provides an introduction to the tools and techniques of modern observational astronomy at visible wavelengths. We will use the 20-inch optical telescope of the Schommer Observatory to carry out astronomical imaging and spectroscopic observations, and analyze these observations using professional image-processing software.

Professor Sheehan Ahmed, 332W Physics & Astronomy Bldg,
Office Hour: Wednesday 3:00 - 4:30 PM. Alternatively, call or email for an appointment.

Mr. Jack Hay, Serin 331,
Office Hour: Thursday 3:30 - 5:30 PM

Lecture: Th period 7 (6:40 - 8:00 PM)
Observing: Su, M, Tu, W, and F nights
Location: 401 Physics & Astronomy Bldg, Busch Campus (enter the door facing Allison Rd and take the stairs to the 4th floor)
OPTIONAL Text: Observational Astronomy, 2nd edition by Birney, Gonzalez, & Oesper, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-85370-5

Image: Composite image of M33 taken with the 0.5m telescope of the Schommer Observatory .


Current Course News

Students in this course can access the Physics Department LAWN with their laptop. Your web browser will be directed to a login screen. Select the "Authorized Rutgers NetID" option from the "Status:" line and then enter your NetID and password.

Observing Schedule

Assignments to the observing sessions are below. Let me know if you have a problem with your day/time.

Day Time Student 1 Student 2 Student 3
Sunday 7:00 - 9:00 Nakul Gangoli Sharan Ramesh Leandro Fosque
9:00 - 11:00 Bojun Zhou Jiaoyue Yuan Joshua Vigoureux
Monday 7:00 - 9:00 Snigdaa Sethuram Alexander Livernois Genci Pustina
9:00 - 11:00 Eric Kenol James Digioia Michael Makmur
Tuesday 7:00 - 9:00 David Jaronsky Danette Quinones-Silva Nitika Yadlapalli
9:00 - 11:00 Jason Torres Jean Fermin Calen Fields
Wednesday 7:00 - 9:00 Richard Ivory Andrew Malynovsky Celina Tang
9:00 - 11:00 Ryan Degregorio Louis Wechter (make up)
Friday 7:00 - 9:00 Harry Oslislo Adrian Casper (make up)
9:00 - 11:00 (make up) (make up) (make up)

Observing predictions for the Schommer Observatory. In the "cloud cover" line, dark blue is good and white is bad.


  • Lab 4: Observing with a CCD: Photometry of the Galaxies M31 and M32 Due: Thursday, November 10.
  • Lab 5: Measuring the Transit of an Exoplanet Due: November 17.
  • Lab 6: Stellar Photometry and the Color-Magnitude Diagram Due: December 8.
  • Lab 7: Nebular Spectroscopy Due: Not due. Just to look over.

    Manuals and Handouts

    Lecture Slides

    Students with Disabilities

    Students with disabilities are welcome in this class. Please show me your Letter of Accomodations early in the semester so that we can make the necessary arrangements for you to have a successful learning experience. More details on the process are at

    Please send any comments on this page to shahmed at

    Revised November 3, 2016