This course aims to provide an understanding of the tools and
techniques used by astronomers to study the Universe, with an emphasis
on ground-based optical observations. Topics covered include:
astronomical telescopes, astronomical instruments and electronic
detectors. It builds on Introduction to Astrophysics (PHY104)
and the topics covered in the first-year astronomy lab (PHY115 & PHY116:
Professional Skills in Physics and Astronomy I & II). The module is
designed to prepare students choosing to do observing projects in
their third year (PHY319: Astronomy Project, including the
La Palma field trip), fourth year (PHY480: Research Project in
Astronomy), and those intending to spend a year abroad on La
Palma (PHY473: Working at the ING; PHY474: Extended
Research Project in Astronomy). As part of this module, all
students must do an observing
project using the University's 16-inch telescope.
On successful completion of this course you should be able to:
- Assess the relative merits of different telescope and mounting designs,
and different observing sites.
- Understand the effect of optical aberrations and the Earth's
atmosphere on astronomical observations, and how they can be corrected.
- Understand the operating principles of imagers, photometers and spectrographs.
- Describe the operating principles of modern optical detectors.
- Follow the procedures required to reduce and calibrate astronomical data.
- Understand noise sources and predict the signal-to-noise ratio of an astronomical observation.
©Vik Dhillon, 25th September 2013