The final exam will be held on Monday, 15 March 2021 at 12.00 in YL124.

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 January 5 – March 5, 2021.

Lectures will be given remotely on Tuesday and Thursday at 12-14, whereas

practical sessions will take place on campus on some of Fridays at 12-14
see Peppi for detail.

The course is lectured in English

Teacher: Vitaly Neustroev, MA 302, 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.


  • All the slides from the course (~28 Mb).
  • 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 1: January 5: 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: January 7: 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: January 12 (self-study): Telescopes (X-ray and Gamma-ray telescopes)


    • Self-study: Introduction to Statistics: PDF

      Compulsory problems [set1] (return by January 24).

    • Lecture 4: January 14: Telescopes (Adaptive Optics)


    • Lecture 5: January 19: Detectors (Detector Parameters, Types of Detectors, The primary interaction processes, Photographic emulsions, Photomultipliers, Micro-Channel Plates, CCDs)

      PDF * Compulsory problems [set1] (return by January 24).

    • Lecture 6: January 21: 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: January 26: Infrared detectors. Physical limitations on the precision of photometric measurements


    • Lecture 8: January 28: Methods of Observations, CCD Imaging, Image processing. Photometry (Magnitudes).

      PDF * Compulsory problems [set 2] (return by February 4)

    • Lecture 9: February 2: Methods of Observations: Photometry (Magnitudes, Photometric Systems, Colour indices)


    • Lecture 10: February 4: Practical Photometry (Aperture photometry, SNR, Aperture Correction, Profile Fitting)


    • Lecture 11: February 9: Procedures for photometry (Instrumental magnitudes, Calibration, Atmospheric absorption). CCD Gain.


    • Exercise session: February 11:
      Solutions to Problem Set 1 * Solutions to Problem Set 2
    • Lecture 12: February 16: Spectroscopic techniques. Practical spectroscopy.

      PDF * Compulsory problems [set 4] (return by February 23) * Solutions to Problem Set 4

    • Lecture 13: February 18: Spectroscopic techniques. Calibration.


    Compulsory problems (return by the deadline). 3 sets (30% of the final score).

    The final exam will be held on on Monday, 15 March 2021 at 12.00 in YL124. Questions for the exam: [PDF]