5 Summary of Week 8
This final week of the course has been slightly different to the previous weeks, as it has consisted largely of data-processing steps rather than learning new material. This is typical of astronomical investigations and indeed scientific investigations in general. Instruments such as the COAST telescope are capable of producing vast quantities of data and a large part of the work of astronomers is taken up with processing images and data, and digesting the information into a meaningful form.
In this case, you have learned how to use astronomical aperture photometry to measure the brightness of your selected variable star. Along the way you have encountered some powerful techniques, such as the use of background subtraction and a reference star, to eliminate external factors and isolate the variability of interest. Part of the skill of being a scientist lies in learning such techniques and thinking of new and creative ways of applying them in other situations. You now have these methods as a part of your scientific abilities and we hope that you will find new ways to use them in other investigations.
Finally, you have published your results, combining them with others to extend our knowledge of this variable star. In this way you have taken part in a collaborative scientific investigation, going through the same steps of planning an investigation, building on previous knowledge, careful and detailed analysis, and finally sharing and publication.