767303A / 767603S

Observational Astronomy – I

an intermediate & advanced course (5 credits)

at the Astronomy research unit, University of Oulu

The course period September 7 – December 4, 2018, see WebOODI for detail.

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, MA 302, 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 10: 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 17: 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: October 1 (self-study): Telescopes (X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes)


  • Lecture 4: October 8: Telescopes (Adaptive Optics)


  • Lecture 5: October 15: Detectors (Detector Parameters, Types of Detectors, The primary interaction processes, Photographic emulsions, Photomultipliers, Micro-Channel Plates, CCDs)


  • Self-study: Introduction to Statistics: PDF

    Compulsory problems [set1] (return by October 22).

  • Lecture 6: October 22: Physical limitations on the precision of photometric measurements


  • Lecture 7: October 24: Methods of Observations, CCD Imaging, Image processing.


  • Lecture 8: November 5: 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)


  • Lecture 9: November 6: Methods of Observations: Photometry (Magnitudes, Photometric Systems, Colour indices)


  • Lecture 10: November 12: Practical Photometry (Aperture photometry, SNR)

    PDF * Data * Compulsory problems [set 2] (return by November 20).

  • Lecture 11: November 13: Practical Photometry (Aperture Correction, Profile Fitting)

    PDF (the same file as that for the previous lecture)

  • Practical session: November 19
  • Lecture 12: November 20: Practical Photometry (Atmospheric absorption, Photon Counting Detectors)

    PDF * Compulsory problems [set 3] (return by December 4).

  • Practical session: November 26
  • Lecture 13: November 27: Spectroscopic techniques. Practical spectroscopy.


  • Lecture 14: December 4: Spectroscopic techniques. Calibration.


The final exam will be held on Tuesday, December 4, 2018, at 10.15, in IT113.

Questions for the exam: [PDF]