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Paper: A CCD Spectrometer for One Dollar
Volume: 443, Earth and Space Science: Making Connections in Education and Public Outreach
Page: 425
Authors: Beaver, J.; Robert, D.
Abstract: We describe preliminary tests on a very low-cost system for obtaining stellar spectra for instructional use in an introductory astronomy laboratory. CCD imaging with small telescopes is now commonplace and relatively inexpensive. Giving students direct experience taking stellar spectra, however, is much more difficult, and the equipment can easily be out of reach for smaller institutions, especially if one wants to give the experience to large numbers of students. We have performed preliminary tests on an extremely low-cost (about $1.00) objective grating that can be coupled with an existing CCD camera or commercial digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera and a small telescope typical of introductory astronomy labs. With this equipment we believe it is possible for introductory astronomy students to take stellar spectra that are of high enough quality to distinguish between many MK spectral classes, or to determine standard B and V magnitudes. We present observational tests of this objective grating used on an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain with a low-end, consumer DSLR camera. Some low-cost strategies for reducing the raw data are compared, with an eye toward projects ranging from individual undergraduate research projects to use by many students in a non-majors introductory astronomy lab. Toward this end we compare various trade offs between complexity of the observing and data reduction processes and the usefulness of the final results. We also describe some undergraduate astronomy education projects that this system could potentially be used for. Some of these projects could involve data-sharing collaborations between students at different institutions.
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