2008 Student Research Conference:
21st Annual Student Research Conference

Development of a Low-Cost Spectrograph for Observation of Variable Stars
Thomas J. Vonderharr
Dr. Matthew M. Beaky, Faculty Mentor

Most of what we know about the fundamental parameters of stars comes from observations of their spectra. Many stars vary in brightness over time, yet their spectra have only been observed once. Because observing time on large telescopes is limited, spectroscopic monitoring of variable stars is a field where amateur astronomers with smaller telescopes can make significant contributions. Commercial stellar spectrographs often exceed the budget of amateur astronomers. To create a simple, inexpensive spectrograph, many problems must be overcome to make it practical. Spectra must be aligned to the digital camera as well as be calibrated to translate pixel values from images into wavelength values. They must also be adjusted for the camera's varying response to light at different wavelengths. This presentation will describe our efforts to design and build an efficient and inexpensive spectrograph for monitoring variable stars that addresses these issues.

Keywords: variable stars, spectroscopy, spectrograph, astronomy, CCD, spectra

Topic(s):Physics

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 42-1
Location: VH 1416
Time: 1:15

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