ASP2011 - Astronomy - 2019

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

Chief examiner(s)

Associate Professor Michael Brown


Associate Professor Michael Brown

Unit guides



  • First semester 2019 (On-campus)


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


An introduction to modern astronomy, with an emphasis on using astronomical observations to understand the stars, galaxies and the universe as a whole.

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 are discussed in detail, including imaging and spectroscopy. Visible and radio wavelength observations will be interpreted to determine the velocities, distances, masses, and the cosmological expansion of the Universe, 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. Use fundamental concepts in observational astronomy to model the motion of the planets and stars, to measure the brightness of celestial objects using astronomical images, and to determine astronomical distances.
  2. Explain the workings and limitations of telescopes and interferometers, to quantify their angular resolution and limitations, and describe how astronomers use these instruments to obtain images and spectra.
  3. Use optical, infrared and radio observations to measure stellar masses, stellar radii, astronomical distances, temperatures and the expansion of the Universe.
  4. Interpret astronomical observations and justify conclusions drawn via a concise and accurate written report.


Examination (3 hours): 50%

Written assignments: 15%

Workshop: 35% (Hurdle)

Hurdle requirements: Students must achieve a pass mark in the workshop component to achieve an overall pass grade.

Workload requirements

The workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours spread across the semester (approximately 12 hours per week) - approximately an even mixture of attendance at scheduled activities and self-scheduled study time. Learning activities comprise a mixture of instructor-directed, peer-directed and self-directed learning, which includes face-to-face and online engagement.

Note: the unit includes a commitment of 2 hours of astronomical observing after hours (evening) on the Clayton Campus, with the exact timing being weather dependent.

See also Unit timetable information

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