Spectroscopy Activity

A detailed activity for studying different types of spectra in the laboratory using a spectroscope will be posted up here shortly. In the meantime many Physics texts provide such investigations so check your textbook.

If you wish to view some specimen spectra online you can visit the following sites that contain Java applets, simulations or other software-based activities:

  • Absorption Spectroscopy uses Macromedia Shockwave in a web browser to simulate spectra from discharge tubes of different elements. You can produce different absorption lines and try and identify an unknown lamp.
  • Applet: Spectrum is a simple but effective Java applet that shows the frequency, wavelength and energy of any region of the em spectrum as you drag a mouse across it. It also shows sources of the different wavebands, how we detect them and some uses of each.
  • black body Radiation Exercises: Planck Law Radiation Distributions is a Java applet that allows you to plot up to 10 Planck curves for temperatures from 3,000 to 30,000 K and compare them. It was used to produce some of the images used in this site. It also has links to applets for Wien's Law and black body: The Game where you have to try and determine the temperature of an unknown object to match a given Planck curve.
  • Diffraction Grating – The Study of Color & Light is a lesson plan using diffraction gratings, lights and diffraction glasses to study colour and spectra.
  • Hydrogen Energy Levels is a simple applet demonstrating the use of the Bohr equation to calculate the energy levels of a hydrogen atom. It shows an energy level diagram vertically from infinity to the ground state.
  • HyperPhysics hydrogen energies and spectrum has a handy applet that calculates the wavelength for different transitions in hydrogen. The page also has useful energy level diagrams.
  • IMSA Astrophysics: Stellar Spectra and Planck black body Radiation is an excellent resource with detailed theory, clear diagrams and an Excel spreadsheet where you can model Planck curves and analyse data.
  • Mini Spectroscopy "is a simplified version of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics full-featured spectroscopy software called Virtual Spectroscope." The Java applet allows you produce a spectrum from a fluorescent lamp, the Sun, a red LED, Hydrogen and three galaxies. They appear as photographic and intensity plots against a reference spectrum.
  • Project CLEA The Classification of Stellar Spectra is an excellent free simulation for Win PCs. You can download the software, a User's Guide, pre and post tests and a comprehensive Student Manual free from the CLEA site. The simulation allows you to control a telescope and spectrograph to take spectra of a large number of stars. You can then attempt to identify them by comparing with spectral standard reference stars. It includes stars of different luminosity classes. Spectra can be examined as photographic or intensity plots. This is worth spending time with. The student manual is comprehensive and a handy resource. You can use this for classroom activities or even as a practical assessment task with some prior exposure.
  • SkyServer SDSS has an excellent activity/project leading you through the classification of stellar spectra, Spectral Types using actual Sloan Digital Sky Survey data. It is accompanied by detailed instructions and relevant theory. Highly recommended. Other activities and projects can also be found by following the links from the home page.