The Celestial Sphere: This part of the course aims to provide a
quantitative description of celestial motions. We shall first develop
the spherical trigonometry required to understand and predict the
motion of celestial bodies in the sky as viewed from the Earth. We
shall then move into space and develop the Newtonian mechanics required
to understand and predict the motion of gravitating bodies such as
planets, comets, asteroids, rockets and binary stars.
Telescopes: This part of the course aims to provide an
understanding of the factors which affect the performance of a
telescope. We shall begin by studying the principles of telescope
optics, before moving on to look at the various different types of
astronomical telescope, how they are mounted, and where they are
On successful completion of this part of the half-module you should be able to:
- Define the standard astronomical coordinate and timekeeping
systems used to specify the position of a celestial object.
- Predict the positions and motions of the Sun, Moon, planets and stars
in the sky as viewed from a given point on the Earth's surface at a given
time of year.
- State Kepler's laws of planetary motion, Newton's laws of motion and
Newton's law of gravitation and apply them to problems involving orbital
- Assess the relative merits of refractors, reflectors and catadioptric
telescopes, equatorial and alt-azimuth mountings, and different observatory
sites around the world.
©Vik Dhillon, 30th September 2009