Dennis Dawson's lab manual gives students the thrill of learning basic astronomy concepts through first hand experiences versus taking the traditional approach of rehashing preconceived observations and analysis done by astronomers. To overcome the need for access to remote observatories, Dawson has cleverly created exercises that are developed around the use of equipment that students would likely have on hand or could construct inexpensively. Students acquire the necessary commitment to understanding basic concepts, basic experimental procedures, the concept of experimental uncertainty, and the discipline of drawing conclusions from information gained first hand.
This lab manual teaches basic astronomy concepts and experimental procedures through direct experience. No expensive equipment is required. In the first section, Dawson (Western Connecticut State U.) introduces such topics as the scientific method, experimental variables and controls, measurement accuracy, keeping an observer's log, and basic angles and trigonometry. The main body of the text is organized into single day and single night, multiple day and multiple night, and indoor experiments. The hole- punched pages are perforated for transfer to a three ring binder. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Reference Guide to Experimental Methods. SINGLE-DAY (D) OR SINGLE-NIGHT (N) EXPERIMENTS. Exercise 1: Using a Planisphere (N). Exercise 2: Altitude and Azimuth (N). Exercise 3: Apparent Magnitudes of Stars (N). Exercise 4: The Number of Stars Visible to the Naked Eye (N or MN). Exercise 5: Use of an Inclinometer (N). Exercise 6: Construction and Calibration of a Cross-Staff (D). Exercise 7: Observing an Eclipse of the Moon* (N). Exercise 8: Exploring the Winter Sky* (N). Exercise 9: Exploring the Spring Sky* (N). Exercise 10: Exploring the Summer Sky* (N). Exercise 11: Exploring the Autumn Sky* (N). Exercise 12: Observing Double Stars* (N). Exercise 13: Astrophotography: Star Colors (N). (* = requires binoculars or a small telescope). MULTI-DAY (MD) OR MULTI-NIGHT (MN) EXPERIMENTS. Exercise 14: Measuring the Moon''''s Orbital Motion (MN). Exercise 15: Spectra with a Grating or Compact Disk (MN). Exercise 16: Observations of the Setting Sun (MD). Exercise 17: The Moon''''s Phases (MD). Exercise 18: Shadow-Stick Astronomy (D, N). Exercise 19: Observations of Jupiter''''s Moons* (MN). Exercise 20: Observing Sunspots by Projection* (MD). Exercise 21: Observations of the Moon''''s Features* (MN). Exercise 22: Apparent Motion of a Bright Planet (MN). (* = requires binoculars or a small telescope). INDOOR EXPERIMENTS. Exercise 23: Spectral Classification. Exercise 24: The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram. Exercise 25: Cepheid Variable Stars I: Creating Light Curves. Exercise 26: Cepheid Variable Stars II: Investigating Pulsation. Exercise 27: Spiral Structure in the Milky Way. Exercise 28: Astronomy on the Internet. LAB REPORT CHECKLIST.