|Fall 2005||ASTR 110L, Sec. 2||Name: ________________|
First, collect the data. We have made observations of beta Lyrae on four nights (10/05, 10/26, 11/02, & 11/09); weather permitting, we will try to make two more. Copy the dates, times, and average magnitudes for each night from the observing worksheet to the table above. Eight more observations (made by Mike Nassir) will be provided in class; there will be two observations on pink paper, another two on purple paper, and four individual observations on white paper. Make sure the dates of the observations on white paper are all different. Copy the dates, times, magnitudes, and observer's initials to the table above.
Second, plot magnitude versus date on the top graph provided with this handout. Plot each magnitude and date as accurately as you can, taking account of the time the observations were made. Don't expect to see any obvious pattern in this graph; the star has gone through many cycles this semester, and our observations catch the star at random points in its cycle.
Third, for each observation, calculate the number of days since 9/01 at 0:00 HT. Express your answer to the nearest tenth of a day, and write this number in the Days column.
Fourth, for each observation, divide the number of days since 9/01 at 0:00 HT by the period of beta Lyrae, which is 12.94 days, and keep only the part after the decimal point. Write this number in the Phase column, rounding it to two significant figures.
Fifth, plot magnitude versus phase on the bottom graph provided with this handout. Plot each point twice; once with the phase you computed, and again after adding 1 to the phase.
As you plot these points, you should gradually see a regular pattern of variation emerge; this is the ``light curve'' of beta Lyrae (repeated because each point is plotted twice). Why does this graph display a regular pattern, while the first one did not? The answer has to do with the fact that a star like beta Lyrae varies in a regular and predictable way, repeating the same behavior again and again. Because of this, we can make observations over a long period, calculate where in the star's cycle each observation falls, and put them together to see how the star varies over the course of its cycle.
Joshua E. Barnes
Last modified: November 29, 2005