Astronomical Techniques

Astrophysics is an observational science. Throughout history and into modern times, progress in our understanding of the universe was led by major observational discoveries. Therefore, a solid grasp of the fundamentals of observational astrophysics is a core requirement on the education of those working in any field of astrophysics.

The first part of the course consists of a series of lectures. The first two lectures deal with fundamental astrophysical concepts involving the macroscopic description of radiation. The third lecture introduces basic concepts of empirical science, including measurements, errors, and probability distributions. The fourth lecture deals with basic optics and the fundamentals of telescope design. The fifth lecture provides an in depth view of the physical principles behind the detection and analysis of radiation, with a focus on the detectors themselves. In Lectures 6 through 8, the basic observational techniques are introduced: imaging, photometry, and spectroscopy. Lecture 9 discusses adaptive optics and lecture 10 introduces the techniques employed in long wavelength observations (submm and radio). The second part of the course, which will run in parallel with the lectures, will consist of a project involving basic data reduction and analysis, followed by the development of a report presenting the results in a scientific format.

The lectures will cover the following topics

- Astronomical units and coordinate systems
- Fundamentals of radiometry
- Basic statistics and error analysis of astronomical data
- Telescopes & optics (Fermat’s principle, laws of reflection and refraction, lenses, diffraction,
- Basic properties of detectors
- Imaging (optical and infrared imaging techniques)
- Photometry
- Spectroscopy
- Adaptive Optics
- Submm, Radio, Interferometry


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