Astronomical Techniques

Core course for Master students (MKEP5)
Summer term 2016
Moodle                        → LSF entry   

  Prof. Dr. Stefan Wagner   &   Priv.-Doz. Dr. Thorsten Lisker

Time and location:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 09:15-11:00
"Neuer Hörsaal" (nHS), Philosophenweg 12

Course content (short summary):
Concepts, technologies, and physical principles of modern observational techniques, along with their scientific applications. Includes optical telescopes and detectors, imaging and spectroscopy, characterisation of data, effect of the atmosphere, multiwavelength and particle astronomy.
→ Table of contents and schedule

Dr. Anna Pasquali
Mon 09:15-11:00 ARI SR   &   Tue 11:15-13:00 Phil 12 R 105
Tutorials begin on May 2nd/3rd. On June 13/14, tutorials will take place in the CIP-Pool Phil 12.
Homework sheets become available every Tuesday on Moodle and have to be submitted by Wednesday of the following week, either online or in person (e.g. at the Tuesday tutorial). We encourage solving and submitting the homework in groups; the maximum is 3 people. We do encourage online submission, but it is your responsibility that your submitted files are legible and have good quality; the same applies to handwritten sheets. It is also your responsibility to submit by Wednesday - not Thursday - and to make sure that your name is on the submitted sheet, even if someone else from your group is handling the submission. Submissions that don't carry the name of a person cannot be counted to the homework points of that person.
50% of homework points are required for being allowed to take the exam.

Knowledge of the introductory astronomy lectures (MVAstro0 or WPAstro).
Basic knowledge on electromagnetic radiation.

Important remark:
Credit points can be acquired either for MVAstro1 or for MKEP5, but not for both modules.

P. Léna, "Observational Astrophysics", 2012 (3rd ed.), Springer
F.R. Chromey, "To Measure the Sky", 2010 (1st ed.), Cambridge University Press
C.R. Kitchin, "Astrophysical Techniques", 2009 (5th ed.), CRC Press
Additional recommendations for specific parts of the lecture:
S.B. Howell, "Handbook of CCD Astronomy", 2006 (2nd ed.), Cambridge University Press
I. Appenzeller, "Introduction to Astronomical Spectroscopy", 2012 (1st ed.), Cambridge University Press
D.J. Schroeder, "Astronomical Optics", 1999 (2nd ed.), Academic Press

Tuesday, July 26th, 9:00-11:00
"Neuer Hörsaal" (nHS), Philosophenweg 12
50% of homework points are required for participating in the exam.
No calculator and no other tools or resources are allowed. Just bring your pens. We will provide sufficient paper for you.

Regular astrophysics colloquia:
→ Heidelberg Joint Astronomical Colloquium
→ ITA colloquium
→ ARI colloquium
→ Königstuhl Colloquium


Course content and planned schedule:
Please note that this is a preliminary schedule, which is subject to changes depending on progress and organisational issues.
SW = Stefan Wagner, TL = Thorsten Lisker, AP = Anna Pasquali
  • 01 Tue 19.4. (TL): Lecture overview and organisation; Astrophysical objects & their emission from gamma to radio wavelengths; History
  • 02 Thu 21.4. (TL): Coordinates and time
  • 03 Tue 26.4. (SW): Atmospheric extinction and airmass; Geometric optics: focal length and image scale
  • 04 Thu 28.4. (TL): Geometric optics (ctd.); Optical aberrations and telescope design
  • 05 Tue 03.5. (SW): Instrumental diffraction and Airy-PSF
  • Public holiday Thu 05.5.
  • 06 Tue 10.5. (SW): Optical detectors, CCDs, science applications
  • 07 Thu 12.5. (TL): S/N calculation; Ultraviolet detectors and science
  • 08 Tue 17.5. (TL): Spectroscopy 1: gratings-grisms-prims, basic mathematical relations
  • 09 Thu 19.5. (TL): Spectroscopy 2 (incl. "spectrophotometry"): scientific information at different wavelength and resolution: SED and population models, redshift, rotation/dispersion; IFUs
  • Now in CIP-Pool Phil 12:
  • 10 Tue 24.5. (TL): Imaging data: flux, magnitudes, noise
  • Public holiday Thu 26.5.
  • 11 Tue 31.5. (TL): Imaging data reduction, spectroscopic reduction
  • 12 Thu 02.6. (TL): Imaging data analysis: photometry; Spectroscopic data analysis: line centers, equivalent widths; Flux calibration
  • Now back at nHS Phil 12:
  • 13 Tue 07.6. (SW/SJ): Coordinate reference frames and space astrometry (Gaia)
  • 14 Thu 09.6. (SW): Atmospheric turbulence and seeing
  • 15 Tue 14.6. (SW): Active Optics, Adaptive Optics
  • 16 Thu 16.6. (SW): Observation and analysis of the Sun; Atmospheric transmission and night sky emission at different wavelengths
  • 17 Tue 21.6. (SW): Near-, mid-, and far-infrared Astronomy (detectors and instrumentation, science)
  • 18 Thu 23.6. (SW): Submillimeter, and radio astronomy (detectors and instrumentation, science)
  • 19 Tue 28.6. (AP): In CIP-Pool Phil 12: Web-based access of data and measurements; Observational tools and research practice
  • 20 Thu 30.6. (TL): Interferometry: concepts, optical/near-infrared, radio
  • 21 Tue 05.7. (SW): X-ray astronomy: detectors and science
  • 22 Thu 07.7. (SW): Gamma-ray astronomy and particle astronomy
  • 23 Tue 12.7. (TL): Neutrino astronomy; Gravitational wave astronomy; Gravitational lensing; Observational cosmology
  • 24 Thu 14.7. (TL): Summary and buffer for remaining content; e.g. comparison of angular resolution and spectral resolution, sampling of astronomical data
  • 25 Tue 19.7. (TL): Trial exam solutions; questions & answers
  • 26 Thu 21.7.: NO lecture - instead astronomical observation in the evening
  • Exam: Tuesday July 26, 9:00-11:00, nHS – Please be there no later than 08:50
  • Viewing of graded and corrected exams: planned for Friday July 29