12.409 Hands-On Astronomy: Observing Stars and Planets

Spring 2002

Full Moon, November 8, 1992. MIT Campus.
Full Moon, November 8, 1992. MIT Campus. (Image courtesy of MIT.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete set of lecture notes that cover topics such as explanations for celestial coordinates and time and tips for keeping an observing notebook. There are also notes on elementary optics, electronic photography, and image processing.

Course Description

This class introduces the student to the use of small telescopes, either for formal research or as a hobby.

This course covers background for and techniques of visual observation, electronic imaging, and spectroscopy of the Moon, planets, satellites, stars, and brighter deep-space objects. Weekly outdoor observing sessions using 8-inch diameter telescopes when weather permits. Indoor sessions introduce needed skills. Introduction to contemporary observational astronomy including astronomical computing, image and data processing, and how astronomers work. Student must maintain a careful and complete written log which is graded. (Limited enrollment with priority to freshmen. Consumes an entire evening each week; 100% attendance at observing sessions required to pass.)

*Some translations represent previous versions of courses.

Donate Now

Course Meeting Times

One Session / Week
3+ hours / Session