(707) 664-2596

office: Darwin 343D

Professor, Physics and Astronomy

Director of the Observatory


My primary research interests focus on the use of variable stars to determine fundamental physical characteristics of stars such as distances, ages, chemical history, masses, and radii. I have special interests in eclipsing binary stars and Cepheid variables. I am also interested in the semi-regular and long-period variables, the optical surveillance of active galaxies, and the optical detection of the light associated with gamma ray bursts. I am particularly interested in the discovery and classification of new variable stars both in our galaxy and in external galaxies.

Yet, I am also interested in minor-bodies in our solar system. I am particularly interested in confirming orbits for NEOs, and for determining absolute magnitudes and light curves for these objects.

My research specialty is optical and infrared photometry of stars using area detectors such as CCDs. The Observatory at Sonoma State is ideally suited for conducting this type of research, and opportunities always exist for students to participate in various on-going research programs. Our course Advanced Observational Astronomy (A482) provides a hands-on introduction to many of the techniques used in contemporary observational astronomy.


I teach courses in astronomy, physics, and in software construction (programming) and I am particularly interested in using computer simulations to enhance instruction and learning.

Some courses that I regularly teach include...


Descriptive Astronomy


Introductory Observational Astronomy


Frontiers in Astronomy


Astronomical Imaging


Advanced Observational Astronomy


Introductory Laboratory Experience


Computer Applications for Scientists


If you are interested in the SSU Observatory, my research programs, or the courses I teach, contact me by email ( spear@sonoma.edu ) or by phone.


Physics and Astronomy Faculty Sonoma State University

Last updated January 2001