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ASP3231 - Observational astronomy

6 points, SCA Band 0 (NATIONAL PRIORITY), 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader(s): Dr Michael Brown


Clayton First semester 2009 (Day)


This unit gives students theoretical background and practical experience in modern astronomical instruments. Telescope optics, spectroscopy, CCD imaging, image processing, astronomical distances, stellar evolution, clusters of stars, variable stars and distant galaxies, all in the context of observational astronomy. Laboratory work and an observational project (including night-time sessions) comprise a substantial component of this unit.


On completion of this unit students will be able to describe the processes responsible for spectral features of stars/galaxies/quasars and interpret spectra based on relevant theory; outline the advantages and disadvantages of different telescope systems for particular research targets; describe characteristics and features of the astronomical objects available for observation and analysis during the teaching period; operate telescopes; describe and use methods to locate astronomical objects in the sky using appropriate coordinate systems; capture images of objects using CCD detectors; describe and apply techniques to process images, including using flat-field correction; atmospheric extinction correction, colour recombination, adaptive optics; describe the historical significance of developments in optics, spectroscopy, photometry and their impact on contemporary instruments and techniques; write scientific reports on their experiments; complete a substantial observational project as a member of a team.


Exam: 40%
Laboratory: 20%
Project: 35%
Assignments: 5%
Students must achieve a pass mark in the laboratory/project component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Contact hours

Two 1-hour lectures per week, 4 hours laboratory or project sessions per week on average (including night-time observing)


ASP2011 or PHS2011 or PHS2022

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