Professor Dan Clemens

Institute for Astrophysical Research, and
Department of Astronomy
, Boston University
Room 417 College of Arts and Sciences Building
725 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Office Ph: (617) 353-6140
email: 'clemens at'

Current Courses: Spring 2018:
GRS AS802 Introduction to Professional Astronomy
GRS803 Computational Programming and Numerical Methods

Professor of Astronomy; CV with Publications

Recent Courses Taught:
Fall 2012 - AS713 Astronomical Spectroscopy
Spring 2013 - AS751 Interstellar Medium
Fall 2014 - AS851 Astrophysics Seminar and Journal Club
Spring 2014 - AS851 Astrophysics Seminar and Journal Club
Spring 2014 - AS102 The Astronomical Universe
Fall 2014 - AS102 The Astronomical Universe
Spring 2015 - AS441 Observational Astronomy
Spring 2015 - AS802 Introduction to Professional Astronomy
Spring 2015 - AS803 Computational Programming and Numerical Methods
Fall 2016 - AS102 The Astronomical Universe
Spring 2017 - AS713 Astronomical Spectroscopy
Fall 2017 - AS710 Observational Astronomy

At Left: Dan Clemens and Dr. Marc Buie during 2004 commissioning of the Mimir instrument on the Perkins Telescope (operated by Lowell Observatory, outside Flagstaff, AZ).

Current Research Projects & Areas:

I work primarily on problems of Galactic astrophysics, including star formation, Galactic structure, and the interstellar medium. This decade features a coherent effort to map and study the nature of the magnetic field in the star-forming molecular gas clouds in the disk of the Milky Way through use of our Mimir instrument to conduct the Galactic Plane Infrared Polarization Survey (GPIPS). This Survey used the weak (1-2%) linearly polarization signal impressed on unpolarized background starlight by foreground dust grains spinning about the magnetic fields present in the gas and dust clouds to reveal the plane of sky orientation of the field. GPIPS completed its observations phase on the Perkins telescope in Arizona in Fall 2017 and the full data products (images, catalogs) are being released to the community in an updated form in Spring 2018. The roughly 1 million stellar polarizations measured represent many orders of magnitude improvement in the number of probes of the magnetic field in the Galaxy.

Looking into the future, the new partnership for Boston University in the 4.3 m Discovery Channel Telescope brings great new opportunities for new science, and the opportunity to develop and deploy powerful new instruments to enable that science.

A somewhat organized list of my current activities include:

  1. The Mimir Instrument - a near-infrared wide-field imaging polarimeter and spectrometer, currently used on the 1.8m Perkins telescope.

  2. The Galactic Plane Infrared Polarization Survey (GPIPS) - an H-band imaging polarization survey of 76 sq deg of the first Galactic Quadrant

  3. Student Projects in our Research Group

  4. Collaborative Projects with outside groups:

  5. Other Projects (Internal)

Mimir H-band polarization vectors overlaid on WISE 12um emission gray-scale image and WISE 25um emission contours. (From Andersson et al. 2013)


Boston University is a permanent partner/owner, with Lowell Observatory, in the Discovery Channel Telescope

First Light Gala July 21 2012


Mimir instrument, with outer cover and thermal shield removed. Picture taken during 2010 July warm servicing. The black box contains the four filter wheels and the three-camera block.

The globular cluster GC01, found in GLIMPSE images (Kobulnicky et al. 2005), imaged here with Mimir in the JHK bands. Left image is the full 10x10 arcmin field, center images shows a zoom of the central region. Right image taken with F/17 high-resolution camera option of Mimir, with pixel sampling of 0.18 arcsec.

JHK (1.16-2.32um) spectrum of the Blue Snowball Planetary Nebula. This spectrum was obtained by students in the Fall 2010 AS102 non-majors class, as part of a field trip to the Perkin telescope.

Graduate Student Researchers: Jordan Montgomery, Adham El-Batal

Recent Graduates: Dr. Michael D. Pavel (2012 - to Univ. of Texas, now Lincoln Labs in MA), Robert Marchwinski (to Penn State), Katie Jameson (to Univ. Maryland), Josh Shiode (to UC Berkeley, now AAS Policy Fellow), Dr. Emily Mercer (to Univ. Michigan), Dr. Sadia Hoq (to MIT/Lincoln Labs)

Mimir H-band polarizations (yellow and red vectors) surrounding the periphery of the L183 (=L134N) dark molecular cloud. Gray scale image is WISE 12um surface brightness decrement, which is related to dust column density. From Clemens (2012)

Mimir H-band polarizations in the Scorpius calibrator field (10x10' in extent), showing the primary polarization standards (solid vectors) and the new 'secondary' standards put forward in the GPIPS Calibration paper (Clemens et al. 2012b).

One 10x10 arcmin field in the Galactic Plane, from GPIPS. There are over 3,200 such fields making up the survey. (From theGPIPS First Data Release Paper)