PHYS 3154
Observational Astrophysics

J. H. Simonetti
[Small Radio Telescope] [14-inch Telescope]
PHYS 3154 Observational Astrophysics
[Click for Blacksburg forecast, from NOAA]
National Weather Service, Blacksburg
Click icon for Blacksburg weather forecast,
radar, and satellite images
[Current Lunar Phase at USNO]
Current Lunar Phase
[Click for Blacksburg, Virginia Forecast, from weather underground]
(Assumes your computer clock is accurate)
Use the Quick Links at the left to navigate this site. This home page displays generally useful information on the weather, sky conditions, time, today's Sun and Moon rise/set, and current lunar phase --- almost all the images shown are links to extensive information. The course syllabus, project handouts, and PDF lectures, are available at the Canvas site for this course. This course is one of the required courses for the Astronomy Minor offered by the Physics Department at Virginia Tech.

The course centers around use of the 14-inch Optical Telescope at the Martin Observatory, and the 2.3m Radio Telescope ("Small Radio Telescope") on Robeson Hall.

EST, EDT, UTC, LST and All That
EDT begins on the second Sunday in March, and EST will resume on the first Sunday in November (see When Does Daylight Time Begin and End? at the USNO). Coordinated Universal Time is UTC = EST + 5 hours. The current UTC and LST (Local Sidereal Time) at the Martin Observatory are calculated and displayed at the right, assuming your computer's clock is accurately set.

Martin Observatory Clear Sky Clock
Top row shows the predicted cloud cover (white is cloudy, dark blue is clear). The second row shows the predicted transparency (white is opague, dark blue is transparent). Each square is a one hour interval; the red vertical lines represent upcoming midnights. The Clear Sky Clock also provides extensive Sun/Moon/twlight data for the current year (lunar phases, solar/lunar rise/set times, etc.), and provides other maps and data specific to the Martin Observatory, all originating from the USNO.
[Predicted sky conditions from]

Past Student Images and Results
Newspaper Article (Courtesy of the Roanoke Times) Showcasing Student Results, Spring 2001
Image of M51 by Adam Drake, Victor Gehman, Seth Hornstein, and Chad King (using the 0.4m telescope, PHYS 3154, Spring semester 1999).
Image of students Mark Blackmon, (Professor John Simonetti), Richard Fortgang, Katleen Hale, and Natalie Smith (some of the "pioneers" of this course from 1999) by Tatsu Takeuchi.
Current Lunar Phase provided by the U.S. Naval Observatory's Astronomical Applications Department.
Martin Observatory Clear Sky Clock provided by Clear Sky Clock.
SRT image from Haystack Observatory

Observational Astrophysics Home Page
Virginia Tech Physics Department