BYU Astronomy Research Group Joins the Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC)

As of January 2021 BYU will be a member of the ARC Consortium (Link to Consortium) with access to the ARC 3.5-m telescope and the 0.5-m ARCSAT telescope.  The primary use of the ARC 3.5-m telescope time is for graduate student projects.  This provides a wide array of instrumentation that is currently being used to study objects in the solar system all the way to studies of the large scale structure of the Universe.

Other BYU Astronomy Facilities

In addition to our telescope time from the ARC consortium, we operate a number of our own astronomical facilities

West Mountain Observatory (West Mountain)

This is our mountain observatory at about 6600 ft above sea level.  This consists of three telescopes: 0.9-m, 0.5-m, and a 0.32-m. It is a 40 minute drive that ends in a 5 miles drive up a dirt road. The mountain itself can be seen from campus. We don't provide any tours of this facility.

Orson Pratt Observatory

The Orson Pratt Observatory is named for an early apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It is our campus telescope facility and contains a wide variety of telescopes for student research and public outreach. We operate a 24" PlaneWave telescope in the main campus dome, plus a 16", two 12", one 8", and a 6" telescope on our observation deck.  The telescopes are all fully robotic. Beyond this we have a large sections of telescopes used on public nights.

Royden G. Derrick Planetarium (Planetarium)

This is a 119 seat, 39" dome planetarium with acoustically treated walls to allow it's use as a lecture room. Recently we upgraded to an E&S Digistar7 operating system with 4K projectors.  The planetarium is used for teaching classes, public outreach, and astronomy education research projects.

Selected Publications

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BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz, Michael B. Rose, Tabitha C. Bush, and Aubrie A. Maxwell, published in Astron. J.
We have examined the previously understudied delta Scuti stars V966 Herculis and V1438 Aquilae. We find that V966 Her is a stable pulsator with a refined period of 0.1330302 days with a full Vamplitude of 0.096 mag. We also find that V966 Her has an average radial velocity of + 7.8 km s(-1), a full radial velocity amplitude of 7.6 km s(-1), and a v sin i = 63:8 km s(-1). For V1438 Aql we report a revised Hipparcos period of 0.1612751 days with a full amplitude of 0.056. The average radial velocity is found to be -43 km s(-1), with full amplitude of 9.7 km s(-1), and a v sin i 76:7 km s(-1). Due to some anomalies seen in V1438 Aql we feel that a much larger photometric and spectroscopic campaign is required to determine the true nature of this star.
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BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz, Tabitha C. Bush, and Michael B. Rose, published in Astron. J.
We present results from monitoring three delta Scuti variables. GW UMa is found to be a stable, monoperiodic, high-amplitude delta Scuti variable with a revised period of 0.20319389 days. We also report a full radial velocity curve, a near-solar metal content, and a rotational velocity of 15 +/- 5 km s(-1). From a very short time line we find that BO Lyn has a constant period change of -1.5 x 10(-10) days day(-1). We also find two potential secondary frequencies of f(2) = 15.81 and f(3) = 13.60 cycles day(-1). Finally, we report some unusual results for AN Lyn. We show that the period and amplitude are changing in phase and that this change is related to a binary companion.
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BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz and Michael B. Rose, published in Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac.
We present photometric and spectroscopic results for two reported delta Scuti stars in the field of NGC 6882/6885. We find that V381 Vul has a period of 0.1185 days and is a delta Scuti variable, as previously reported. The spectra of V382 Vul shows it to be a B3 star and therefore not a delta Scuti. All evidence points to V382 Vul being a delta Cephei star with a period of 0.1808 days. Additionally, we report five new variables and eight suspected variable stars. Of the five new variables, two are pulsators and three are eclipsing binary systems. In our search for new variable stars, we use a "robust median statistic" that is proven to be better at finding low-amplitude variables than the traditional error curve approach.
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BYU Authors: Eric G. Hintz, Michael D. Joner, and Mariya Ivanushkina, published in Publ. Astron. Soc. Pac.
We report 69 new times of maximum light for the SX Phoenicis star DY Pegasi. Combining these new times with previous published maxima, we found the data to be well modeled with a triple linear fit. However, we also determined a refined constant period change of -6.00x10(-12) days day(-1). From both spectroscopic and photometric measurements, we determined -0.8<[Fe/H]<-0.6. Using phase-averaged indices, we found =7660 and =3.89. From evolutionary models, a mass of M=1.5 M-circle dot and an age of 1.7 Gyr were determined.
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BYU Authors: E. G. Hintz, published in Second Eddington Workshop: Stellar structure and habitable planet finding, (Palermo, Italy, April 2003). Edited by F. Favata, S. Aigrain and A. Wilson. ESA SP-538, Noordwijk: ESA Publications Division, ISBN 92-9092-848-4, 2004, p. 349 - 353
NGC 6633 is a solar metallicity, young open cluster. In addition to providing useful information from an asteroseismic point of view, it has the additional attractiveness of being located in the potential field of view of the COROT space mission (indeed, it is currently included in the primary target selection list). We report on some preliminary results from a multisite photometric monitoring campaign intended to search for variability in NGC 6633. The detection of δ Scuti stars is a determining factor in the choice of this open cluster as target of the COROT Seismology program. We report the detection of new δ Scuti stars together with other types of pulsating variables (γ Doradus, SPB, Ap stars, etc.) and some bianry systems. 
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BYU Authors: E. Hintz, published in Mon. Not. Roy. Astron. Soc.
We present the results of a three-continent multisite photometric campaign carried out on the Algol-type eclipsing binary system RZ Cas, in which the primary component has recently been discovered to be a Sct-type pulsator. The present observations include, for the first time, complete simultaneous Stromgren uvby light curves together with a few Crawford Hbeta data collected around the orbital phase of the first quadrature. The new observations confirm the pulsational behaviour of the primary component. A detailed photometric analysis, based on these observations, is presented for both binarity and pulsation. The results indicate a semidetached system where the secondary fills its Roche lobe. The appearance of the light curves reveals the presence of the mass stream from the secondary component and a hotspot where this stream impacts on the surface of the primary star. There are also some indications of chromospheric activity in the secondary. On the other hand, the pulsational behaviour out-of-primary eclipse can be well described with only one frequency at 64.1935 cd(-1) similar to the main peak found by Ohshima et al. The existence of multiperiodicity is not confirmed in our data. Concerning the mode identification, our results indicate non-radial pulsation in a high radial order (n = 6), with l = 2, | m | = 1, 2 as the most suitable. However, additional effects must be taken into account in the predictions. Moreover, the pulsation amplitude in the u band is larger than in b and v, which is unusual among the delta Sct-type variables. This can be explained as due to pulsation in a high n value and close to the blue edge of the delta Sct region. On the other hand, the early data of Ohshima et al. have also been analysed and similar results are found concerning the frequency content and pulsational amplitude. Finally, a revision of all the photometric out-of-primary-eclipse data sets available in the literature is made together with some additional unpublished data leading to interesting findings relative to changes taking place in the pulsation amplitudes and frequencies from season to season. Furthermore, multiperiodicity is probably present in some epochs.