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Spectroscopy - practical guide


Spectroscopy - practical guide
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Succesfully Starting in Astronomical Spectroscopy - A Practical Guide.

This book has been written by François Cochard, general manager of Shelyak Instruments. It is also available in french : Guide pratique pour (bien) démarrer en spectroscopie astronomique

This is a practical guide to help you starting ins Astronomical Spectroscopy.

ISBN : 978-2-7598-2026-9
255 pages
EDP Sciences - PROfile

You have decided to jump into astronomical spectroscopy, or you are thinking about it. If you wish to understand how to start, to go deeper, or simply increase your knowledge and improve your results, then this book is made for you!

Amateur interest in Astronomical spectroscopy is on the rise. More and more amateur astronomers are diving into the adventure. Getting a star spectrum, today is easily feasible, with modest equipment – if you have a method, and go step by step. This book is a guide; it is very practical. It addresses all the issues required to quickly assist you in obtaining quality spectra with a slit spectroscope. We talk about astrophysics and optics, but it is not an astrophysical or optical course. No prerequisite is needed.

A big part of the book is dedicated to the setup of your equipment and to obtaining spectra in the field. This is often where beginners face problems: one needs to make several devices (telescope, spectroscope, camera…) work together. Little by little, you’ll learn how to get your first spectra, to perform data reduction, and to look at your spectra with more and more expectations – up to the moment when you realize that you’re doing real science.

« The book you are about to read is remarkable in the sense that it makes the foundations of astronomical spectroscopy accessible to all and provides practical advice for its application. It will without doubt give you the desire to embark on this great adventure, and provides you the means to achieve it. »
extract from the preface written by Claude Catala, President of the Observatoire de Paris


Table of Contents :



Chapter 1 • Entering the Realm of Amateur Astronomical


1.1 Spectrography, Spectrometry, Spectroscopy

1.2 What Does a Spectrum Look Like ?

1.3 The Missing Link

1.4 Short History

1.5 Amateur Spectroscopy Today

1.6 Starting Spectroscopy


Chapter 2 • Light

2.1 Light is a Wave

2.2 Light is a Particle

2.3 Making Light

2.4 Shifting a Spectrum

2.5 What a Human Eye Sees

2.6 Atoms and Molecules


Chapter 3 • What Light Tells us about Stars

3.1 The Light of an Ordinary Star

3.2 Each star has its Own Spectrum

3.3 Observing at Di#erent Resolutions

3.4 Limiting Magnitude

3.5 A Moving Sky

3.6 Time Evolution

3.7 Not only Stars

3.8 Basic Chemistry


Chapter 4 • What can I Observe with my Instrument ?

4.1 The Basic Questions

4.2 Many Types of Observations

4.3 What Physical Phenomena to Observe ?

4.4 Start with Low Resolution

4.5 Start with Di#erent Spectral Types

4.6 Organize your Observation


Chapter 5 • Optical Principles of a Spectroscope

5.1 Re#ection, Refraction and Diffraction

5.2 Prism and Grating

5.3 Refresh of Geometric Optics

5.4 Refracting and Re#ecting Telescopes

5.5 Architecture of a Spectroscope

5.6 A Real Example: Alpy 600

5.7 Another Example: Lhires III

5.8 Guiding Stage

5.9 Calibration Light

5.10 Échelle Spectroscopes

5.11 Fibre Optic


Chapter 6 • Main Parameters of a Spectroscope

6.1 Resolution and Resolving Power

6.2 Focal ratio (F-ratio)

6.3 Magni#cation and Sampling

6.4 Resolution and Dispersion

6.5 Spectral Range

6.6 Spectral Domain

6.7 E#ciency

6.8 Mechanical Backfocus and Fastening

6.9 Telescope and Sky Quality

6.10 Ajusting the Con#guration

6.11 Keep it Simple !


Chapter 7 • CCD Cameras and Acquisition Softwares

7.1 A Wide Variety of Choices

7.2 Image Detector or Light Detector ?

7.3 Acquisition Software

7.4 Some Simple Manipulations


Chapter 8 • Adjusting the Spectroscope

8.1 Which Light Source ?

8.2 Install the Acquisition Camera

8.3 Focusing and Orientation

8.4 Blue on Left, the Red on the Right

8.5 Choice of the Range of Wavelength

8.6 Setting up the Guiding Camera


Chapter 9 • Physical Measurements and Data Reduction

9.1 Your mission: the Spectral Profile

9.2 Do not put the Cart before the Horse

9.3 Intensity and Wavelength

9.4 Distinguishing Technicalities and Science

9.5 Systematic and Random Errors

9.6 Signal-to-Noise Ratio

9.7 The Steps to Reduce the Data

9.8 Catalogues of Reference Stars

9.9 An observation is a Set of Images


Chapter 10 • First Spectroscopic Observation: The Sun

10.1 Reference Images

10.2 Data Reduction

10.3 Wavelength Calibration

10.4 Correction for the Instrumental Response


Chapter 11 • Mastering the Telescope

11.1 Mastering the Mount

11.2 Calculation of the Image Field

11.3 Understand the Telescope Motion

11.4 Pointing at a Star

11.5 Autoguiding


Chapter 12 • Installing the Spectroscope on the Telescope

12.1 Stiff Mechanical Match

12.2 Orientation of the Spectroscope

12.3 Balancing and Cables Management

12.4 Plugging in

12.5 Focus Guiding and Telescope

12.6 Last Checks

12.7 At the Beginning of the Night


Chapter 13 • Spectroscopic Observation of another

13.1 Starting the Observation

13.2 The Reference Star

13.3 Point to the Target Star

13.4 Take all the Reference Images

13.5 Data Reduction

13.6 Going Beyond


Chapter 14 • Quality of the Spectrum

14.1 Read the Outcome of the Calculation

14.2 Compare with other Observers

14.3 Verify the Wavelength Calibration

14.4 Non-uniform Intensities in the Observations

14.5 Measure of the SNR

14.6 Level of the Signal for your Instrument


Chapter 15 • Ready for the Adventure

15.1 The Typical Observing Session

15.2 Improve your Observations

15.3 Improve the Quality of the Data

15.4 Improve your Productivity

15.5 Share your Results

15.6 Spectra of Professional Quality


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