In this course, students pick a topic in astrophysics, collect data at an observatory, and then reduce and interpret the data in teams.
This course is a data reduction and research course that allows the students to travel to Mt. Hopkins Observatory in Arizona on a spring break field trip. In the couple of weeks before the field trip, the students learn (on real data, and using software used in professional astrophysics) how to reduce photometric and spectroscopic data in optical light.
The students spend the rest of the semester reducing the data (via techniques learned in-class prior), interpreting the data, and answering some research question that they devise. It's entirely team-based, so they are constantly interacting with each other as they are reducing the data, interpreting the result, and looking through previous research on the object.
The students wrote a research paper in the same style as papers in normal astrophysical scientific journals and gave a 15 minute presentation on the last day of class
This is a very specialized course and this sort of project is only applicable in certain situations. However, it lets the students conduct research, and is a very good immersion into actual research work.