University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Laboratory Information

Introductory Astronomy Laboratory Information

Constellation Quiz

Location:  The Garage Area located just to the west of the Astronomy Building (away from Alderman Road)

  Nights Times Begins Ends
Constellation Lab Mon., Tues., Wed., & Thurs.   9:00 - 10:00 PM Jan 23 May 2
Constellation Lab Mon., Tues., Wed., & Thurs. 10:00 - 11:00 PM Jan 23 May 2

 

No labs will be offered during spring recess (March 6-10).

Most 1200-level ASTR students will be required to complete the Constellation Lab activity. You are required to sign up for this lab in advance using the Astronomy Lab Registration WebsiteThis exercise consists of learning a few basic concepts about the night sky and learning how to find the bright planets, constellations and stars visible this time of year.

  • HOW TO PREPARE: It is recomended that students familiarize themsleves with the seasonal constellations visible in the current night sky. Sky maps such as those from Skymaps.com, planetarium programs such as Stellarium, or various smart phone apps are a good way to learn the constellations. 
  • WHAT TO BRING: Dress warmly; you will be outside for the whole lab. Bring a pencil, a writing surface (such as a clipboard), and a flashlight, preferably one with a red filter.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: Arriving on time is important, since the TAs will begin the activities promptly at the start of the scheduled session. The lab consists of three parts:
    • The TA will give a brief tour of the night sky and explain the basic concepts needed to complete the activity. The TAs will assume that the students have no knowledge of the night sky.
    • The students will have about 20-30 minutes to complete an activity. The activity questions will emphasize concepts and navigation on the night sky using the constellations.
    • In the last 10 minutes or so, the TA will administer a brief quiz drawn from a list of objects on the activity sheet. Students will record their answers on their sheets.
  • WEATHER CONSIDERATIONS: If the sky is cloudy, this program will not run even if the sky clears after 9:00 PM. You can call the Night Lab Status Line at 434-924-7238 after 7:30 PM (or the updated message after 8:30 PM) to find out if the lab will be run that evening.

Completing the Constellation Lab as early as possible in the semester is highly recommended. If you procrastinate, bad weather may prevent you from completing your lab before the deadline. Unless your professor tells you otherwise, NO exceptions to the deadline will be made due to bad weather. Deadlines vary by instructor so check your syllabus.

Note: No constellations quizzes will be given at McCormick Observatory.

Telescope Observing

Location:  Sign in front of Astronomy Building (530 McCormick Road)

  Nights Times Begins Ends
Telescope Observing Mon. & Thurs. 9:00 - 11:00 PM Jan 30 May 1

 

No labs will be offered during spring recess (March 6-10).

Some 1200-level ASTR students will be required to complete the Telescope Observing Lab activity. You are required to sign up for this lab in advance using the Astronomy Lab Registration Website. This exercise consists of observing and sketching four objects seen through the telescopes at McCormick Observatory.

  • HOW TO PREPARE: No prior preparations are necessary.
  • WHAT TO BRING: Dress warmly; the telescope domes are not heated. Bring a pencil, a writing surface (such as a clipboard), and a flashlight, preferably one with a red filter. Worksheets are available at McCormick Observatory during lab hours. Please note that no smoking is allowed even outside while on observatory grounds.
  • TRAVEL: Do not walk up to the Observatory. You must meet the T.A. on-duty by the Astronomy Department sign in front of the building on the appropriate night by 9:00 PM in order to receive your copy of the lab and your instructions. You should bring your car if you have one to help with carpooling to McCormick Observatory. Since parking is extremely limited at the observatory, no car with fewer than 3 occupants will be allowed to park at the observatory; therefore, if you choose to drive, carpooling is essential. Do not park in the driveway of the white house next to the Observatory. This is a private residence. Students will leave in the car they came in or will receive a ride down in the van from the TA at the end of the lab.
  • WHAT TO EXPECT: During this laboratory, you will observe and sketch four objects through binoculars, the 6-inch and 14-inch telescopes in the Student Observatory (The Doghouse), and the 26-inch telescope in the Observatory Dome. The telescope operators will point the telescopes and binoculars to various objects and provide information about what you are viewing. Once you have finished your sketches and descriptions, be sure to sign the attendance sheet and obtain the telescope operator's or T.A.'s signature. When you have finished you should submit the completed lab sheets to the T.A. at the Observatory.
  • WEATHER CONSIDERATIONS: If the sky is cloudy, this program will not run even if the sky clears after 9:00 PM. You can call the Night Lab Status Line at 434-924-7238 after 7:30 PM (or the updated message after 8:30 PM) to find out if the lab will be run that evening.

Completing the Telescope Observing Lab as early as possible in the semester is highly recommended. If you procrastinate, bad weather may prevent you from completing it before the deadline. Unless your professor tells you otherwise, NO exceptions to the deadline will be made due to bad weather. Deadlines vary by instructor so check your syllabus.

Note: No constellations quizzes will be given at McCormick Observatory.

Weather hotline: 434-924-7238

  • Updated by 6:30 PM and 8:00 PM on lab nights.

For the latest forecast from the National Weather Service, please visit the Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport forecast page.

The Sky Calendar at Sky & Telescope lists objects of interest in the current night sky.