Faculty of Science

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

School of Physics and Astronomy


Associate Professor Michael Brown



  • First semester 2016 (Day)


An introduction to modern astronomy, with an emphasis on using astronomical observations to understand the evolution of stars, galaxies and the Universe. Students are introduced to the night sky and how to navigate around it using astronomical coordinates. The design, performance and use of visible and radio wavelength telescopes is discussed in detail, including imaging and spectroscopy. Visible and radio wavelength observations will be interpreted to determine the distances, masses, ages and evolution of stars and galaxies. Practical work in workshops is a key component of this unit, including an astronomical observing session and analysis of data from major observatories.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Perform calculations involving fundamental concepts in observational astronomy, including the motion of the planets in the night sky and measuring the brightness of celestial objects using astronomical images.
  2. Understand the workings and limitations of reflecting and refracting telescopes and how astronomers determine the distances, luminosities, masses, radii and temperatures of stars.
  3. Use radio and Hubble Space Telescope observations to measure the expansion of the Universe.
  4. Understand how multi-wavelength astronomy provides information about neutron stars, black holes and galaxies.
  5. Interpret astronomical observations and justify conclusions drawn via a concise and accurate written report.


Examination (3 hours): 50%
Written assignments: 15%
Workshop: 35%
Students must achieve a pass mark in the workshop component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

  • Three 1-hour lectures/tutorials per week
  • One 3-hour workshop per week
  • Six hours of independent study per week

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


One unit (six points) of physics at first-year level, and MTH1020 or MTH1030 or MTH1035 or ENG1005 or equivalent