The final exam will be held on Wednesday,
18 October 2023 at 12.00 in M203 (Day, time, and place are confirmed).

Questions for the exam: [PDF]


Observational Astronomy

an advanced course (5 credits)

at the Space Physics and Astronomy research unit, University of Oulu

The course period August 29 – October 30, 2023.

Lectures take place usually on Tuesday and Wednesday at 12-14,

exercises and practical sessions on Thursday at 12-14, see Peppi for detail.

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, MA 308, vitaly[-at-]

Course content:

  • Methods of Observations with 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.

Practical manuals:

  • An Introduction to Astronomical Photometry Using CCDs (October 22, 2006) – W. Romanishin: the latest version of this book can be downloaded from here
  • IRAF-1 by S. Larsen
  • IRAF-2 by T. Coenen and Y. Grange
  • Spectral Reduction Procedures by Mike Bolte
  • Schedule

    • Lecture 0: August 29: Introduction (will be repeated on August 30).
    • Lecture 1: August 30: 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.

      PDF * Slides by Masataka Okabe & Kei Ito about Color blindness

    • Lecture 2: September 5: 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, James Webb Space Telescope).

      PDF * Homework: see slide 130 (deadline September 6)

    • Lecture 3: September 6: X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes.


    • Self-study: Introduction to Statistics: PDF
    • Lecture 4: September 7: Telescopes (Adaptive Optics)

      PDF * Compulsory problems [set1] (return by September 12).

    • Lecture 5: September 12: Detectors (Detector Parameters, Types of Detectors, The primary interaction processes, Photographic emulsions, Photomultipliers, Micro-Channel Plates, CCDs)


    • Lecture 6: September 13: 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 7 and Exercise session: September 14: Infrared detectors.


    • Lecture 8: September 19: Methods of Observations, CCD Imaging, Image processing. Physical limitations on the precision of photometric measurements.


    • Lecture 9: September 20: Methods of Observations: Photometry (Magnitudes, Photometric Systems, Colour indices, Units)

      PDF (updated on 24.09.2023) * Compulsory problems [set 2] (return by September 26)

    • Exercise session: September 21
    • Lecture 10: September 26: Practical Photometry (Aperture photometry, SNR, Aperture Correction, Profile Fitting)


    • Lecture 11: September 27: Procedures for photometry (Instrumental magnitudes, Calibration, Atmospheric absorption). CCD Gain.

      PDF * Compulsory problems [set 3] (return by October 8)

    • Exercise session: September 28
    • Lecture 12: October 3: Spectroscopic techniques.


    • Lecture 13: October 4: Practical spectroscopy. Calibration.


    • Exercise session: October 5: Data page

    Compulsory problems (return by the deadline). 4 sets (30% of the final score).

    The final exam will be held on Wednesday, 18 October 2022 at 12.00.
    Questions for the exam: [PDF]