Honors College

Document Type

Honors Thesis




David Batuski

Committee Members

Neil F. Comins, Shawn Laatsch, Michael Mason, Chris Mares

Graduation Year

May 2022

Publication Date

Spring 5-2022


This project uses a custom polarimeter to measure the polarization of light we receive from stars. Most bright stars emit unpolarized radiation, so measuring non-zero polarization is significant. Even highly polarized stars only have degrees of polarization around five percent. Polarized light from a star may mean 1) the star is actually a binary system, 2) the star has a significant magnetic field, or 3) the star has some other feature or variability that is atypical of the majority of bright stars. A polarimeter is used to measure polarization. As the Jordan Observatory did not have a polarimeter, the project began by designing and constructing an instrument to suit our purposes. The polarimeter needed to be small enough to fit unobtrusively on a telescope and have the precision necessary to measure stellar polarization. The polarimeter was designed, and parts were ordered for its construction. Code was written to work with the polarimeter. This code calculated polarization using the intensities of images taken at different orientations of the instrument. The performance of the polarimeter was investigated, and it proved to be a promising tool for measuring stellar polarization.