Welcome to the Mallorca Residential School
Welcome to the Mallorca Residential School (MallorcaRS) an educational school designed to advance your understanding of the Universe we live in through practical projects exploring a variety of aspects and developing various skills in the field of astronomy.
The school takes place over a period of 6 weeks consisting of 5 weeks of home study at your own pace then culminating in five nights working at the well-equipped astronomical teaching observatory, Observatori Astronomic de Mallorca (OAM), on the island of Mallorca undertaking the residential phase of the school.
Practical astronomy in a teaching environment can be a highly rewarding experience and offers the opportunity to develop important practical skills for students undertaking science courses at any level as well as amateur astronomers wishing to advance their skillset and understanding.
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Format of the School
Once registered on the MallorcaRS you have access to an online learning environment with study planner to guide you through the initial self-study phase of the school based upon the e-book ‘Observing the Universe’. You are likely to need 10 to 15 hours per week; less if some of the content is already familiar to you, to study this e-book. The learning environment also provides an avenue for asking questions and interacting will fellow participants prior to the residential phase of the school. All MallorcaRS materials and guidance are supplied electronically via this environment.
The residential phase of the school consists of four projects (the first night consists of an induction in to the observatory equipment):
Eclipsing Binary Stars:
In this project you will select and observe an appropriate eclipsing binary star with the objective of using aperture photometry on repeated images to construct a light curve (change in brightness with time). This light curve may then be used to constrain some of the physical properties of the binary including the type of eclipsing binary, its orbital period and the masses of the two stars.
Colour-Magnitude Diagrams of Star Clusters:
In this project you will construct the observational analogue of the famous Hertzsprung-Russell diagram which is fundamental to the understanding of stellar structure and evolution. Using aperture photometry you will to measure the magnitude and colour of a sample of stars in different star clusters. The data will then enable you to produce a colour-magnitude diagram and from this determine the distance and the relative ages of the clusters.
Asteroid Light Curves:
In this project you will take multiple photometric observations of a selected asteroid throughout the night with the objective a producing a light curve. The rotation of such a non-spherical asteroid gives rise to a light curve from which you can deduce the rotation period, the ratio of the shortest and longest axes of the asteroid and the orbital distance of the asteroid.
In this project you will obtain optical spectra of several astronomical sources including stars and nebulae. You will reduce the digital data and calibrate the spectra to wavelength scale and identify the main emission and absorption features in each spectrum to infer what light emitting and absorbing processes are at work in each source.