Dave Shaffer's Astronomy Site

I'm a (semi!)-retired radio astronomer. I have lots of experience with Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). For five years (academic years from Fall 2000 through Spring 2005) I taught astronomy and physics at the Community College of Southern Nevada.

Some of what I found useful and interesting there will be featured here.

Check first my spectra of various gases.  I took pictures of these spectra because I couldn't find some of them on the web.   I used a Canon D60 (6 megapixel) DSLR to take these pictures.  I aligned the camera with the viewing aperture of a Project STAR Spectrometer spectrograph (these are great for student or personal use - you can buy them already assembled, or get a kit of 10 of them for students to assemble - go to Learning Technologies for more information).  Note that the colors seem to be a little funky in the region of 590 nanometers - compare the Xenon lines which look red with the Krypton lines which look more yellow.  I suspect these are mostly due to the way the camera's three-color sensor interprets colors which are not exactly red, green, or blue.  The line wavelength locations rather than their exact colors should be taken as a better indicator of which gas they represent!

These were used as references for unknown spectra which my students observed during an astronomy lab.  For larger images, just click on the spectrum.  (If you'd like a REALLY big image, let me know!)  You also can save it to a file on your computer.  If you use these spectra, I'd appreciate an acknowledgement.  THANKS!  I can be e-mailed at dbs@astrodave.name .

My Hobbies

Classical music - I have several hundred CDs of (largely) vocal music, much of it by composers from pre-renaissance through Bach, Handel, Haydn, and Mozart. My favorite early guys are Monteverdi, Gabrieli, and Schutz. I sing tenor in the Master Chorale of Flagstaff  (Arizona) and maintain their website.  I can play passable folk music on my guitar (mostly from the 60s: Peter, Paul, and Mary and Joan Baez, in particular).

Other interests: ham radio (my call is W8MIF), flying small airplanes, scuba diving, and photography.  See some of my flower pictures in Buds of Baderville .  The pictures I took of the Southern Nevada Musical Arts Society's (my former singing venue, when we lived in Las Vegas) 2008 Spring Concert are here.  Some more nice pictures are from my photo calendar for 2007.

How much snow did we get in January 2010?  Look here.  Then in June came the forest fires - look here.

Spectrum of a Helium Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Hydrogen Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Nitrogen Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Neon Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of an Argon Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Hydrogen Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Xenon Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Krypton Gas Discharge Tube

Spectrum of a Mercury Gas Discharge Tube