Harvard University

Astronomy Lab and Clay Telescope


Astronomy Lab

The Astronomy Lab is located in Room 804 on the 8th floor of the Science Center. There is a small computer lab with 3 Macs and 3 PCs for data analysis. The computers have programs that include but are not limited to: IDL, IRAF, MaximDL, Microsoft Office, The Sky and the non-linear regression plotting program, NLReg.

The lab can also be used as a teaching or review session space, and can accommodate 20-25 students.


Observing the Sun

Spectrograph with the SBIG CCD attached

Many classes take advantage our 'mini' solar observatory and make daytime observations of the sun. Observations can be made with the small Celestron telescope using appropriate filters or using the rooftop heliostat. A SBIG CCD can be attached to the telescope or used to image spectra lines.


The light path of the heliostat allows for many different observations of the sun. If the light is directed onto the table, you can search for sunspots. Alternatively, if the light is directed into the slit of the spectrograph, you can use the eyepiece to visually look at the sun's spectrum! The CCD can also be attached to the spectrograph so images of the spectra can be taken.

Searching for sunspots!


The heliostat can be controlled very easily once the mirrors are properly aligned with the sun. The heliostat controls move the mirrors so that the light path can be corrected as the sun appears to move through the sky.

Heliostat Documents

Using the Heliostat pdf html