The Tenth NEON Observing School
Asiago, September 9-22, 2012
The 10th NEON observing school took place at Asiago
Observatory (Italy) from Sept. 9th to 22th.
Twenty students of 13 different nationalities performed small research
under the guidance of experienced
These programs covered all aspects of a real observing program,
starting from the preparation of the
observations to the extraction of the scientific results,
including the set-up of the instruments, and
the Astronomical Virtual Observatory Databases to see if other
data were available
on the corresponding topic.
Strong attention was also payed
to interesting Targets of Opportunity!
The practical work was introduced by a series of lectures on
fundamental observing techniques:
Telescope optics, by R. Hook (ESO)
Photometry, by E. Iodice (Naples)
Spectroscopy, by M. Dennefeld (IAP-Paris, University of Paris 6)
The group led by L. Morelli
(Padova), comprising A. Anuar Khan (Spain), H. Finley
T. Kopytova (Germany-Russia) and L. Puspitarini
studied the formation and evolution of galaxies, through photometry and
spectroscopy of an archetype spiral galaxy, NGC 7331.
They separated the blue, star-forming regions in the disk, from the
redder, dustier bulge.
They obtained the rotational pattern with Afosc on the 1.82m telescope,
and estimated the age and metallicity of the object.
This work needs to be completed by a similar study of elliptical
The group was also lucky to be able to observe, and classify the
Supernova 2012eu in an anonymous galaxy,
showing it was a type Ia about one month past maximum.
This result has been published
in the IAU electronic circular CBET 3231
The group of M. Valentini (Liege),
M. Cortes (Spain), N. Ozel (Belgium),
E. Pomante (Italy) and A. Rajpurohit (France-India), studied the red
clump on the open cluster NGC 2052.
From photometry, they obtained the distance of the cluster and derived
the mass of the stars.
Multi-colour photometry was used to derive their temperatures, further
complemented by spectroscopy.
Synthetic spectra were then produced for comparison with the data
and determination of abundances
various elements like Fe, Na, Ca, etc...
This group was also lucky to be able to observe a Supernova, SN2012et,
which was classified as a Ia a few days before maximum (CBET 3227)
The group of J. Mendez (IAC-La
Donati (Italy), B. Gompertz (UK), J. Japelj
and Y. Rashed (Germany-Irak), studied the bar in the galaxy NGC
The ellipticity, position angle, inclination, etc... were obtained with
Spectroscopy was obtained with the 1.82m telescope in the region of the
Mg triplet around 5150A
to obtain the dispersion velocity.
Long slit spectroscopy at different position angles yielded the
with a final result of a rotational velocity of 41km/s/Mpc.
The uncertainty is however large, due to a poor S/N ratio, and clearly
a larger telescope is needed
to refine this result.
The group of P. Francois
(Paris), including G. D' Ago (Italy), B. Deka (Poland), G.
Latev (Bulgaria) and J. Polshaw (UK),
investigated the chemical history of the Milky Way.
Old, metal-poor stars were selected for abundance analysis: only
dwarf stars were retained, as their composition is
assumed to be the closest to the gaz out of which they had formed.
The stellar parameters being known from photometry,
the spectra obtained were compared to Kuruc'z models to derive the
While no change in Ca abundance with time was noticed, a strong change
of Mg abundance was put into evidence.
Other elements like Ti and Ba would be needed to complete the
Finally, the group of A. Siviero
(Asiago), with Ch. Battistini (Italy), I. Gezer
(Turkey), S. Murphy (UK)
and R. Szakats (Hungary), studied the nature of Symbiotic stars through
Photometry was done, although the presence of emission lines perturbs
the colour-colour diagram.
Spectroscopy was obtained for AG Dra, AX Per, CI Cyg, PU Vul, etc...
each student fully observing at least one object.
Although no new outburst was put into evidence, the various types were
well identifed: slow novae, WD+ late giant, etc...
The school was lucky enough that a new nova-candidate was announced
during the observations,
which was then classified by us a Dwarf Nova in Pegasus (CBET 3228).
The intense data reduction work was alternated with complementary
lectures, such as:
-The evolution of telescope optics (M. Dennefeld),
-Polarimetry (E. Giro) or
-Integral Field Unit spectroscopy (L. Coccato)
A tutorial was also given by A. Pizzella on " How to write a (good)
telescope time proposal",
and the students had to put this in practice by submitting, at the end
of the school,
in addition to the presentation of their scientific results,
a telescope time request to complete the work they had done
during the school.
Despite very intense work during the whole school, some relaxation
events had also been planned,
and this was nicely completed at the end of the school
by the traditional "Descent of the Herds" when cows are going down to
the valley for the winter.
Asiago is definitely a nice
place to live...and to work!