Astronomische Waarneemtechnieken

Astronomische Waarneemtechnieken - 2012

(Astronomical Observing Techniques)


Practical matters

The lectures take place in the Huygens building #414 on Mondays from 9:00 - 10:45hr. The exercises are held in the same room on Wednesdays also from 9:00 - 10:45hr. For details and exceptions (marked in red) see schedule below.

The course starts on 3 September and ends with the exam on 17 December, 2012. The course language is English.

The lecturer is Dr. Bernhard Brandl, office: #535 (Oort building), phone (071) 527-5830, email. The teaching assistants are Nienke van der Marel (#508, email) and Stephanie Heikamp (#571, email).

Content of the course

Nowadays, astronomical observations are increasingly demanding in terms of sensitivity, image contrast, field of view, stability and calibrations, pushing telescopes and instrumentation closer and closer to their limits. Meaningful results require a careful understanding of the technologies and equipment that is being used. This course provides a general overview of most aspects that are relevant to observational astronomy, covering both the underlying physical principles and the technical concepts. In addition, the theoretical concepts of image signal processing are being discussed and practical exercises will be held. The lectures are structured as follows:

  1. Basics of Observational Astronomy:
  2. Measurement and Signal Processing:
  3. Specific Tools and Techniques:


The lectures will be accompanied by detailed handout notes. Based on the experience from previous years, there is no single book that covers all course topics in sufficient detail. Howeber, there is a list of suitable books (below) that are strongly recommended for further reading. The books can be borrowed from the lecturer or (preferred) from the library in the Huygens building:


The course is intended for 3rd year Bachelor students, and assumes two years of successful studies in Astronomy. Credits: 6 EC points.

The grades will be determined from a written exam on Monday, 17 December 2012.

The exam will consist of three parts: I. Calculations, II. Qualitative explanations, and III. Multiple choice questions. The content of the exam will be largely based on the topics of the weekly exercises. It is therefore highly recommended to attend the weekly exercises.

Course Schedule (preliminary)

Lecture topic
Book reference (cf. list above)
Basics of Observational Astronomy

Introduction, Basic properties of Blackbodies and Magnitudes

Chromey §§10.2-10.5, Wolfe §§2, 15, Lena §3
Atmospheric properties (transmission, emission, scattering, refraction, dispersion, turbulence, seeing, ...) Chromey §10.6, §5.4.2, Lena §§2, 4.4, Roddier §2

Exercises on radiation (solutions)


Telescopes (reflector, refractor, mounts, foci, ground/space telescopes)

Chromey §6, Lena §4.3, Bely §§4.5.1, 6.5, 12.5-12.6, Schroeder §§6-9
No class (but still some homework - with solutions)  
Theoretical Background
Noise, S/N, and instrument sensitivities Chromey §2, Lena §6, Schroeder §§17.2-17.3, Bracewell §10
Exercises on telescopes and S/N (solutions)  
Fourier transform (definition, properties, 1D and 2D examples, theorems) Lena §App.A, Bracewell §§2-6, 9-10, 13, 22
No exercises (here are some exercises and solutions for practice)  
Geometrical and diffraction optics (basics, aberrations, PSF, SR, EE ...) Chromey §5, Schroeder, §2, 4, Bely §§4.1-4.4, 5, Lena §4.2, Schroeder §§10-11
Exercises on optics (solutions) & Introduction to optical design and homework & Exercises on Fourier transforms (solutions)  
Specific Techniques and Components
Radio techniques Techniques of Radio Astronomy
Exercises on radio techniques (solutions)  
Interferometry (principle, components, fringes, limitations, types, ...) Lena §4.3, Quirrenbach ARA&A, Bedding_intro
Exercises on interferometry (solutions)  
Detectors -- part I (basic principles of photo-conductors) Chromey §§7-9, Rieke §§all, McLean §§7-9, 11-13
Exercises on detectors (solutions)  
Detectors -- part II (bolometers, heterodyne detectors) Chromey §§7-9, Rieke §§all, McLean §§7-9, 11-13
More exercises on detectors (solutions)  

12-Nov-12 HL204

Spectrometers (spectral information, dispersing elements, types of spectrometers, spectral analysis) Chromey §11, Lena §5, Schroeder §§12-15
14-Nov-12 HL204
Exercises on spectrometers (solutions)  
Spectrometers -- part II  
Exercises on spectrometers (solutions) and Introduction on the planned observations  
Adaptive Optics (principle, components, laser guide stars, types of AO) Chromey §§6.5-6.6, Roddier §§all, Lena §4.4, Bely §8


One night at the telescope ...


Summary lecture (optional)


9-Jan-13 14:00-17:00 HL106

Exam ! Exam ! Exam ! Exam ! Exam !

22-Feb-13 10:00-13:00 HL106

Retake Exam !

Grades from the exam on 9 January:


Grades from the retake-exam on 22 February: