765367A / 765667S

Observational Astrophysics and Data Analysis

an intermediate & advanced course (6 credits)

at the Astronomy research unit, University of Oulu

The course period September 19 – December 6, 2016

Lectures, and exercise and practical sessions (about 18 all together) take place on Monday and Tuesday (12-14) in TÄ 219

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, MA 302, ph. 029448-1930, vitaly[-at-]neustroev.net

Course content:

  • Methods of Observations with the modern Space- and Ground- based Telescopes
  • Observational Techniques in Gamma, X-ray, UV, Optical and Infra-Red astronomy
  • Observational Experiments, Calibrations And Data Reductions
  • Data Analysis

Theoretical and practical considerations will be supplemented with the home exercises which constitute the important part of the course.


  • Astrophysical techniques (5th Edition – 2008) – C.R. Kitchen: Taylor & Francis / CRC Press. ISBN 978-1-4200-8243-2.
  • Observational Astrophysics (3rd Edition – 2012) – P. Léna, D. Rouan, F. Lebrun, F. Mignard, D. Pelat, Translated by S. Lyle: Springer. ISBN 978-3-642-21815-6.
  • Can be useful:

  • An Introduction to Astronomical Photometry Using CCDs (October 22, 2006) – W. Romanishin: the latest version of this book can be downloaded from here
  • ISSI Scientific Report Volume 9 (SR-009): Observing Photons in Space (2010) – Edited by M.C.E. Huber, A. Pauluhn, J. Len Culhane, J. G. Timothy, K. Wilhelm and A. Zehnder. ISBN 978-92-9221-938-3.
  • Observational Astronomy (Second Edition – 2006) – D. Scott Birney, Guillermo Gonzalez & David Oesper: Cambridge Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0-521-85370-5.


  • Lecture 1: September 19: Introduction (Seeing the Night Sky with Our Naked Eyes, Viewing objects in wavebands other than optical, The Effect of the Earth’s Atmosphere), Continuum Radiation Processes (Electromagnetic radiation from Radio to Gamma-Ray wavelengths, Blackbody radiation, Multi-Wavelength Observations), Eye as a detector


  • Lecture 2: September 20: Telescopes (Historical introduction, General principles, Diffraction and Spatial resolution, Aberrations in reflecting telescopes, Optical configuration, Telescope configurations, Optical Telescopes, Segmented mirror telescopes, New large telescopes, Problems of Extremely large telescopes, Radio, Infra-Red and UV Telescopes)


  • Lecture 3: September 26: Telescopes (Adaptive Optics)


  • Lecture 4: September 27: Telescopes (X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes)


  • Lecture 5: October 03: Detectors (Detector Parameters, Types of Detectors, The primary interaction processes, Photographic emulsions, Photomultipliers, Micro-Channel Plates)


  • Lecture 6: October 04: Detectors: CCDs


  • October 10: No lecture:
  • October 11: No lecture:
  • Self-study:Introduction to Statistics: PDF

    Compulsory problems [set1] (return by October 17).

  • Lecture 7: October 17: Physical limitations on the precision of photometric measurements


  • Lecture 8: October 18: X-ray Detectors (Proportional Counters, CCDs, Microchannel plates), Gamma Ray detectors (Scintillation crystals, Compton Scattering detectors, Pair production detectors, Solid state CZT detectors, Coded mask imaging, Air Čerenkov detectors), Infrared Detectors (Photoconductors, Bolometers)


  • Lecture 9: October 24:A presentation session. Next Generation Detectors (TES, STJ).


  • Additional reading: Imaging of High-Energy photons.

    PDF-1 * PDF-2 * PDF-3

  • Lecture 10: October 25: Methods of Observations, CCD Imaging.


  • Lecture 11: October 31: Image processing. Photometry (Magnitudes, Photometric Systems)


  • Lecture 12: November 1: Photometry (Colour indices). Practical Photometry (Aperture photometry, SNR)


  • November 7: No lecture:
  • November 8: No lecture:
  • Lecture 13: November 14: Practical Photometry (Aperture Correction, Profile Fitting, Atmospheric absorption, Photon Counting Detectors), CCD Gain


  • Lecture 14: November 15: Spectroscopic techniques