Lab Course: Sun

The instruments at the TURM and TURMX Observatory are regularly used by students as part of the advanced lab course in physics (Fortgeschrittenenpraktikum Physik). 

During the summer semester, we offer a lab activity on the physics of the solar atmosphere using the solar telescopes on Uhrturm at the heart of the downtown campus of TU Darmstadt. The focus is on the study of the structure and dynamics of the solar atmosphere. This includes transient localized features in the solar atmosphere – like sun spots, faculae, filaments, and prominences – that appear in different layers of the solar atmosphere and become visible through observations in different narrow wavelength bands. In addition to these features we study the so-called limb darkening, which provides information on the temperature gradient in the photosphere, and we measure the differential rotation of the sun by tacking surface features over a timespan of a few days.

The students operate the complete observatory themselves, from the preparation of the dome and the instruments for the observation to the data taking with four different telescopes in three different wavelength bands. Everything is operated remotely, i.e., the students control the instruments interactively from an arbitrary desktop computer. The raw data, which consists of short movie sequences recoded by the specialized cameras at the solar telescopes, goes through an automatic post-processing pipeline. The best frames are selected and uploaded to the solar browser automatically.

As part of their report, the students create a short news piece that highlights one the results of their observations. Below you will find the most recent news pieces by the students.