Undergraduate Course: Observational Astronomy (PHYS09059)
Course Outline
School  School of Physics and Astronomy 
College  College of Science and Engineering 
Credit level (Normal year taken)  SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) 
Availability  Available to all students 
SCQF Credits  20 
ECTS Credits  10 
Summary  This 20pt course consists of a 10pt lecture course (~16 lectures, ~5 tutorials), the astrophysics laboratory experiments and a mini telescope project.The lecture course (one lecture per week, over two semesters) will introduce the students to the basics concepts of the quantitative measures of light, astronomical coordinate systems, telescope design, optical/nearIR instruments, multiwavelength astronomy (FarIR, Xray and Radio) and
statistical techniques in astronomy. In the astrophysics laboratory the students will undertake two series of experiments. The first provides the students with practical experience of operating an optical spectrograph, including calibration, data acquisition and data analysis techniques. The second series of experiments provides the students with expertise in astronomical data analysis software through a series of experiments dealing with astrometry, photometry and spectroscopy. Finally, in the mini telescope project the students will obtain handson experience of obtaining and analysing their own imaging with the IfA student telescope. 
Course description 
Lectures Syllabus:
1. Observing Basics
 celestial sphere, coordinate systems
2. Quantitative measurements of light
 Inverse square law, specific intensity, flux density
 Apparent magnitudes, absolute magnitudes
3. Reddening and atmospheric extinction
4. Adaptive optics and telescope design
5. Imaging  detectors
6. Imaging  data reduction and analysis
7. Spectroscopy  instruments
8. Spectroscopy  reduction/calibration
9. Space Astronomy techniques
10. FarIR and submm astronomy
11. Xray astronomy
12. Radio Astronomy
13. Signal, noise and distortion
14. High resolution astronomy
15. Statistical techniques in astronomy
16. Computing in astronomy
Astrophysics Laboratory Syllabus:
1. Practical spectroscopy
 Setup and calibration of an optical spectrograph  alignment and focusing
 Determining the refractive index of a prism
 Identifying unknown elements from their emissionline spectra
 Determining the transmission function of a set of colour filters
2.Computer based exercises
 Determining membership of a galaxy cluster  multiband aperture photometry
 Determining the redshift of a quasar  data reduction and emissionline fitting
 Determining the distance to a nearearth asteroid  astrometry
MiniTelescope Project Syllabus:
 Collecting photometry data points for long period variable stars
 Observing other objects of interest (i.e. planets, nebulae etc)

Information for Visiting Students
Prerequisites  None 
Course Delivery Information

Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1)

Quota: 32 
Course Start 
Full Year 
Timetable 
Timetable 
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) 
Total Hours:
200
(
Lecture Hours 18,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 4,
Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 52,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
122 )

Assessment (Further Info) 
Written Exam
50 %,
Coursework
40 %,
Practical Exam
10 %

Additional Information (Assessment) 
The lecture course will be assessed via a 2hour written exam. The astrophysics laboratory exercises will be assessed via two written reports.The telescope project will be assessed via a handin.

Feedback 
Not entered 
Exam Information 
Exam Diet 
Paper Name 
Hours & Minutes 

Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)  Observational Astronomy  2:00  
Learning Outcomes
LECTURES:
1) Demonstrate an understanding of astronomical coordinate systems, calculate the angular separation between celestial objects and plan observations of a celestial object based on its astronomical coordinates.
2) Demonstrate an understanding of stellar types and the variation of stellar spectra with temperature and size.
3) Convert between physical flux measurements and astronomical magnitude systems.
4) Demonstrate an understanding of the physical principles of interstellar reddening and atmospheric extinction.
5) Calculate interstellar reddening based on measurements of colour excess and an assumed dust reddening law.
6) Calculate atmospheric extinction based on standard star observations.
7) Demonstrate an understanding of the physical principles of optical CCD detectors.
8) Describe the basic steps required to calibrate/reduce optical CCD data and calculate the expected signaltonoise ratio of CCD observations.
9) Demonstrate an understanding of the physical principles of an optical spectrograph and describe the basic steps required to calibrate spectroscopic data.
10) Demonstrate an understanding of basic statistics in astronomy, including optimising signaltonoise and model fitting.
11) Demonstrate an understanding of observing techniques and instrumentation in both short wavelength (Gamma/Xray) and long wavelength (submm/Radio) astronomy.
LABORATORY:
1) Setup, calibrate and acquire data with an optical spectrograph.
2) Perform the basic tasks of CCD imaging and
spectroscopy data reduction, including absorption corrections, astrometric calibration and aperture photometry.
3) Present a complete, reproducible written or oral account of an experiment and the conclusions drawn from it to a professional standard, incorporating figures, tables and graphs where appropriate.
4) Identify the sources of any errors in experimental results, quantify them and formulate approaches to control them.
TELESCOPE MINIPROJECT:
1) Plan and execute imaging observations of an astronomical target.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 
Not entered 
Keywords  ObAst 
Contacts
Course organiser  Dr Ross Mclure
Tel: (0131) 668 8419
Email: rjm@roe.ac.uk 
Course secretary  Miss Paula Wilkie
Tel: (0131) 668 8403
Email: Paula.Wilkie@ed.ac.uk 

