Future Directions

The future is certainly bright for amateur spectroscopy. As far as the SGS is concerned, grating carousels are now available that contain a 1200/1800 line grating combination, providing greater dispersion of the spectrum. The unit comes standard with a 150/600 line grating combination. This definitely improves the identification of lines by spreading the spectrum out by a factor of two to three compared to the 600-line grating. Of course, this comes at the expense of sensitivity

Figure 11.8. Dale Mais in his observatory, only 12 miles from Mount Palomar.

since you are spreading the light out more. In addition, user-friendly and versatile software for the amateur spectroscopist would be most welcome. While IRAF is the current standard for this type of work among professionals, its requirement of a UNIX or Linux operating system, along with what I understand to be a difficult package to learn at best, will make this software little used by the budding spectro-scopist. The package VSpec definitely fills a void in this regard. It is Windows-based and very powerful, and nearly all amateurs involved in spectroscopy use it.

Spectroscopy is much more involved than other areas, such as photometry, where amateurs are making scientific contributions. It is relatively early in the amateur spectroscopy arena and how this field will develop remains to be seen. One thing is for certain: amateurs will not make contributions in this area unless they do so in collaboration with a professional. To this end, for those interested, I suggest two different groups where you can learn more:

1. The Society for Astronomical Sciences, http://socastrosci.org/Default.htm

2. The Working Group for Professional-Amateur Collaborations, a committee of the American Astronomical Society, http://www.aas.org/wgpac/.

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