765367A / 765667S

Observational Astrophysics and Data Analysis

an intermediate & advanced course (6 credits)

at the Astronomy Division, University of Oulu

The course period February 10 – April 16, 2015

Lectures, and exercise and practical sessions (about 18 all together) take place on Tuesday (14-16) and Wednesday (12-14) in TÄ 219

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, FY 272, ph. 029448-1930, vitaly[-at-]neustroev.net

Assistent: Tuulia Pennanen, TÄ 202, ph. 029448-1100, Email: tuulia.pennanen[-at-]oulu.fi

Course content:

  • Methods of Observations with the modern Space- and Ground- based Telescopes
  • Observational Techniques in Optical and X-ray 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: February 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: February 11: 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: February 17: Telescopes (Adaptive Optics)


  • Lecture 4: February 18: Telescopes (X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes)


  • Exercise session 1: February 24: Introduction to Statistics


  • Lecture 5: February 25: Detectors (Detector Parameters, Types of Detectors, The primary interaction processes, Photographic emulsions, Photomultipliers, Micro-Channel Plates, CCDs)


  • Lecture 6: March 3: Physical limitations on the precision of photometric measurements


  • March 4: No lecture:
  • Lecture 7: March 10: 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)


  • March 11: No lecture:
  • Lecture 8: March 17: Infrared Detectors (Photoconductors, Bolometers), Next Generation Detectors (TES, STJ).


  • Lecture 09: March 18: Methods of Observations, CCD Imaging, Image processing


  • Lecture 10: March 24: Photometry (Magnitudes, Photometric Systems, Colour indexes)


  • Additional reading: Imaging of High-Energy photons.

    PDF-1 * PDF-2 * PDF-3

  • Lecture 11: March 31: Practical Photometry (Aperture photometry, SNR, Aperture Correction, Profile Fitting, Atmospheric absorption, Photon Counting Detectors), CCD Gain


  • Lecture 12: April 7: Spectroscopic techniques


  • Lecture 13: April 15: Spectroscopic techniques (practical aspects).

    PDF * X-ray spectroscopy(PDF)

  • Exercise session: April 21.
  • Compulsory problems (return by the deadline). 3 sets (30% of the final score).

    The final exam will be held on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, at 12.15, in TÄ219.

    Questions for the exam: [PDF]