Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Space Studies

First Advisor

Paul S. Hardersen


Stellar spectral classification is one of the first efforts undertaken to begin defining the physical characteristics of stars. However, many stars lack even this basic information, which is the foundation for later research to constrain stellar effective temperatures, masses, radial velocities, the number of stars in the system, and age. This research obtained visible-λ stellar spectra via the testing and commissioning of a Santa Barbara Instruments Group (SBIG) Self-Guiding Spectrograph (SGS) at the UND Observatory. Utilizing a 16-inch-aperture telescope on Internet Observatory #3, the SGS obtained spectra of GSC 4461-698 and GSC 4466-870 in the low-resolution mode using an 18-μm wide slit with dispersion of 4.3 Å/pixel, resolution of 8 Å, and a spectral range from 3800-7500 Å.

Observational protocols include automatic bias/dark frame subtraction for each stellar spectrum obtained. This was followed by spectral averaging to obtain a combined spectrum for each star observed. Image calibration and spectral averaging was performed using the software programs, Maxim DL,Image J, Microsoft Excel, and Winmk. A wavelength calibration process was used to obtain spectra of an Hg/Ne source that allowed the conversion of spectrograph channels into wavelengths.

Stellar emission and absorption lines, such as those for hydrogen (H) and helium (He), were identified, extracted, and rectified. Each average spectrum was compared to the MK stellar spectral standards to determine an initial spectral classification for each star. The hope is that successful completion of this project will allow long-term stellar spectral observations to begin at the UND Observatory.