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ASP3231 - Observational astronomy

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate Faculty of Science

Leader: Dr Michael Brown


Clayton First semester 2007 (Day)


This unit gives students theoretical background and practical experience in modern astronomical instruments. Telescope optics, spectroscopy, UBV photometry, CCD imaging, image processing, astronomy relevant to sunspots, satellites, Galilean moons, variable stars, other targets of opportunity (different each year), all in the context of observational astronomy. Laboratory work including night-time observing sessions comprises 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 using that theoretical basis; 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 equatorially-mounted manual and robotic 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, resolution enhancement; 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 project as a member of a team; write and peer-review project proposals and reports.


Laboratory:(25%)+ Project:(35%)
Students must achieve a pass mark in the laboratory component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Contact hours

Two 1-hour lectures per week, 4 hours lab per week on average (including night-time observing)


ASP2011 or PHS2011 or PHS2022