DavidJ's Lab Final:

This is page is intended for sections taught by DavidJ.

Other sections should prepare as their instructors require.

If you have to miss the lab final night for any reason, don't worry. Makeup lab finals can be arranged.

Some adjustments/corrections may be needed before the lab final.

Note for the instructor: Search on UPDATE for items which usually require updating for each semester's lab final.


  1. Student Preparation
    1. Working with the Telescope Outside
  2. Lab Final Procedure
  3. Lab Final Schedule for Students
  4. Special Instructions For Instructors

  1. Student Preparation

    1. Getting Prepped:

      1. The week of Apr11 the practice/makeup/early final week. If you need practice after reviewing the discussion below, you should certainly come. If you are just doing practice, it shouldn't take too long. We will set some telescopes in the classroom (probably) and up on the roof---weather permitting.
      2. The lab final is worth 10 % of the total mark---but you must pass it (i.e., get at least 60 %) to pass the course. But it is easy to pass---show up, be reasonably prepped, and try.

      3. Things you will have to do are specified in the subsections below.
      4. Note that all the things you will have to do have to be done quickly within about 10 minutes: 5 minutes for the inside part, 5 minutes for the outside part. So you do not have time to fumble about figuring things out while you go. For most people there will be a few minutes break between the inside and outside parts.
      5. You should go through the steps of the preparation over and over again until they are essentially memorized.
      6. You are on your own. There are NO partners and the instructor will NOT be giving help or hints---or if they do have to give a hint to get you started, you will be assessed a penalty. NO electronic devices, NO books, NO notes. You can use a planisphere for any parts of the lab final---but other than planisphere part itself, it's not likely to be useful.
      7. The inside part is really easy and should be quick and is worth 70 % of the total. Since you need 60 % to pass, make sure you can do the inside part without hitches.
      8. On the practice night, you might try working in pairs with one student testing the other.

    2. Working with a Planisphere, 35 % for the current semester:

      A planisphere and its use are illustrated in the figure below.

      What you will do with the

      1. You will set the planisphere to the test day and time.
      2. To do this, you rotate the circular sky map until the date on the sky map aligns with the clock time on the overlay: e.g., rotate Nov28/Apr23 to 8 pm.
      3. The visible sky map in the oval window is approximately the sky above the horizon on that date and time.
      4. Most of the constellations on the visible sky map will be in visible in the actual sky.
      5. You will be asked to locate 3 (THREE) of the following astronomical objects on the planisphere:

        1. Andromeda (and the Andromeda galaxy (M31, NGC 224)), Canis Major (and Sirius), Cassiopeia, Cygnus (and Deneb), Lyra (and Vega), Orion (and Betelgeuse and Rigel), Taurus (and Aldebaran and the Pleiades), Ursa Major, Ursa Minor (and Polaris).
        2. The celestial equator (a solid circle center on the NCP), the ecliptic (a dashed circle that is tilted from the celestial equator by 23.4 degrees), the Milky Way.

        This is pretty easy since the astronomical objects are labeled on the planisphere, except for the Milky Way (which is just shown as a speckled band) and Polaris which is located on the axis of the planisphere. The Andromeda galaxy is just labeled "Galaxy". Note that some of the astronomical objects may be BELOW the horizon for your time and date. You should be able to locate them anyway.
      6. You should be able so show how the planisphere oval window aligns with the actual sky.
      7. You can use the planisphere for the rest of the lab final---but it's not likely to be very useful.

    3. Working with TheSky Software, omitted (so 0 %) for the current semester:

      1. Launch the TheSky if necessary.
      2. Set File/Open/Normal.sky if necessary.
      3. Check the location is Las Vegas, Nevada with Data/Location. Change location if necessary.
      4. Check the time is the current date and time with Data/Time. Change date and time if necessary.
      5. Set to Mercator projection with View/Projections/Mercator if necessary.
      6. Set the TheSky to show the Moon and planets with View (or background)/Display Explorer/Solar system +/Moon X, planet X.
      7. Find the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn Make sure you can locate them on the planisphere by constellation they are in.
      8. Locate the Pleiades in Taurus. TheSky doesn't give the name Pleiades, but gives the brightest stars in the Pleiades: Alcyone, Atlas, Electra, etc.
      9. Set the TheSky to show the Andromeda galaxy (M31, NGC 224) with View (or background)/Display Explorer/Non-stellar +/Galactic X (which causes Andromeda galaxy to appear as a smudge on the screen) and View (or background)/Display Explorer/Non-stellar +/Label +/Messier X (which puts the label M31 on the Andromeda galaxy) or View (or background)/Display Explorer/Non-stellar +/Label +/Common names X (which puts the label Andromeda galaxy on the Andromeda galaxy).
      10. Shutdown TheSky without saving changes.

    4. Working with Telescope Inside, 35 % for the current semester:

      1. You will have to name and locate the 13 PARTS of the Celestron C8 telescopes specified in the Telescopes lab. You have to rattle them off without prompting. You should prepare by reading the relevant part of your report of the Telescopes lab.

        You will be asked to explain the function of 2 PARTS. The instructor chooses which parts you will have to explain.

      2. Telescope parts and other useful terms should be reviewed: air mass, angular resolution, clock drive, crosshairs, eyepiece, field of view, finderscope, focal length (FOV), focusing knob, fork arm, LCD keypad, light-gathering power, objective, on-off switch, optical telescope, optics, pimary mirror, Rayleigh criterion, SAO stars, Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, secondary mirror, seeing, slewing, star diagonal, star pointer, telescope tube.

    5. Working with Telescope Outside, 30 % for the current semester:

      1. If weather or some other condition (e.g., roof repairs) doesn't permit this part outside, a modified version will be done inside. Check weather at National Weather Service (NWS) 7-day forecast, Las Vegas, NV

      2. You should check the sky with with the sky map shown below.

      3. You should prepare by reading over Lab 3: Telescopes and and by actual practice with the C8 telescopes, in the practice week session.
      4. For slewing uses the arrow keys. They only work for slewing. The key motor speed determines the slewing rate. Go motor speed/9 for fast slewing appropriate for moving many degrees across the sky. Go motor speed/5 or 6 or 7 for slow slewing appropriate for centering an object.
      5. In working with the LCD keypad menu, remember that back key moves you up the categories. Repeated backs will take you to the top category NexStarSE Ready which is usually a good place to start any new set of instructions.
      6. You will asked to find and center 2 OR 3 astronomical objects. The SKY ALIGNMENT may or may NOT be set on the C8 telescopes. It is the instructor's choice on whether it is to be 2 or 3 astronomical objects, but he/she treat everyone the same.
      7. If it is NOT, the instructor will merely point out the 2 OR 3 astronomical objects and you must put the astronomical objects in the field of view (FOV) doing all the finding and centering steps yourself.
      8. If the SKY ALIGNMENT is set, you can select the astronomical objects from the LCD keypad and let the automatic slewing do its work. The C8 telescope SKY ALIGNMENT is NOT perfect. So you will almost certainly have to do the precise finding and centering using the star pointer and the finderscope. Precise centering usually requires switching to a slow slew rate. When you want to slew by many degrees you have to switch back to a fast slew rate.
      9. The 2 OR 3 astronomical objects could be the Moon, planets (e.g., Jupiter or Saturn), named stars (e.g., Sirius, Mizar, or Polaris), and named objects (e.g., the Pleiades).

      10. Just to remind how you find astronomical objects consider the instructions:
        1. To find a Solar System object: 1-solar system/scroll.../object/enter. Note scroll up is 6-scroll-up and scroll down is 9-scroll-down in any list of entries. Hold down 6-scroll-up or 9-scroll-down for fast scrolling.
        2. To find a named star: 2-stars/scroll.../Named Stars/enter/scroll/object/enter.
        3. To find a named object: 7-menu/scroll.../Named Objects/enter/scroll/object/enter.???

        The instructions above are for the newer LCD keypads for C8 telescopes. The instructions for the older LCD keypads---which are probably all gone now---are almost the same---in fact, virtually the same, mutatis mutandis.

  2. Lab Final Procedure

    1. The lab final is in the the week of Apr18.
    2. The lab room will open a 7:00 pm or a bit earlier if any students are around.
    3. Last-minute practice with the planisphere and inside C8 telescopes can be done before 7:30 and/or your scheduled lab final time.
    4. We sometimes run ahead of schedule, and so coming early might pay off in leaving early.
    5. At 7:30 pm the lab final will start.
    6. Four students will be done in half-hour periods. You do not have to arrive before your scheduled period, unless you want to make use of the last-minute practice starting some time before 7:30 pm.
    7. Students will be go with instructor one at a time to the storeroom for the planisphere and inside telescope parts. This is to be really quick: 3 to 5 minutes. Any flailing and we just move on.
    8. After the inside part, the instructor and students troop to the roof quickly and then simultaneously on 4 setup C8's the students each find their 2 astronomical objects. They have to show the instructor that they have found them. There is finite time to do this---10 minutes at most. The outside part must end at the end of the half-hour period. If there is a second instructor, he/she will be on the roof waiting for the students to arrive.

      If the instructor has an assistant, the students can be sent up as they are ready and the assistant will give them the outside part using 1 or more C8's.

    9. The planisphere part is worth 35 marks. This part will be marked generously. One mistake or one flailing will not cost you.
    10. The inside telescope part is worth 35 marks: 20 for naming the parts and 15 for briefly describing the functions of two parts CHOSEN by the instructor. Naming the parts will be marked generously. Describing the functions will NOT be marked generously---the instructor is expecting the main function stated quickly and concisely. For example of a super-perfect answer: "The star diagonal bends the light beam by 90 degrees from the optical axis of the telescope using a prism in order to permit easier viewing."
    11. The outside telescope part is worth 30 marks: 15 marks per object. This will be marked generously.

  3. Lab Final Schedule For Students

  4. Note the day and time of your scheduled lab final.

    Do NOT be late.

    If you arrive before 7:30 and/or your scheduled time, you can usually do some last-minute practice.

    Sometimes, we run ahead of schedule, and so some students can finish up early sometimes.

    1. Night 1: Apr20 W, Lab Section 08

      1. 7:00 or so: Last-minute practice time.

      2. 7:30
        1. Coren Thomas
        2. Heitung Wong
        3. Erin Riek
        4. Joshua Gray

      3. 8:00
        1. Je Huer
        2. Hoiman Kuan
        3. Michael Lasso
        4. Benton Minedew

      4. 8:30
        1. Allan Quan
        2. Chase Reviea
        3. Jad Saddi
        4. Arien Rollins

      5. 9:00
        1. Chunghin Tam
        2. Alexander Webb
        3. Open slots, but this must be by appointment.

      6. 9:30
        1. Open slots, but this must be by appointment.

      7. 10:00
        1. Open slots, but this must be by appointment.

  5. Special Instructions For Instructors

    1. Check as needed:
      1. Usual Startup Procedure
      2. Usual Shutdown Procedure

    2. As usual for outdoor labs, check the weather online at NWS 7-day forecast, Las Vegas, NV in advance and by personal visual inspection at/during the lab period.

      In case the weather is not good for observing, you need to have an alternate indoor test ready. Yours truly suggests ????---well we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

    3. You will need to set up the C8 telescopes on the roof before the lab period and review their usage well in advance if needed. See Telescope Operating Procedure and List of Tricks for C8 Telescopes.