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Subject details

  • Topics
    • Celestial co-ordinates and time systems
    • The nature and production of light: gamma-rays to radio waves; thermal and non-thermal sources; emission lines; earthly and heavenly examples
    • The electromagnetic spectrum; the sky at different wavelengths; atmospheric windows
    • Photometry, filters, colour magnitudes and colour indices
    • Photomultipliers, CCD imaging
    • Optical spectroscopy, prism and grating spectroscopy; the detection of extrasolar planets via spectroscopic means
    • The eye as an optical instrument, lens systems, refracting & reflecting telescopes; magnification, light-gathering power, angular resolution
    • Principles of telescope mount and housing design, control systems.
    • Optical seeing, active and adaptive optics, laser guide stars, astronomical site selection and light pollution issues
    • Infrared astronomy: detectors, South Pole infrared astronomy and space missions
    • Construction and resolving power of single-dish radio telescopes, principles of radio and microwave receivers
    • Radio interferometry, interferometer arrays and aperture synthesis, VLBI, data analysis
    • High-energy astronomy: design of UV, X-ray and gamma-ray telescopes and detectors
    • Neutrino astronomy, gravity wave detectors
  • Study resources
    • Instructional Methods
      • Disscusion forum/Discussion Board
      • Embedded Multimedia
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Standard Media
      • Web links

At the completion of this subject students will be able to:

  1. Identify the nature of light and recognise that different wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation require different types of telescopes and detectors
  2. Differentiate the basic principles of telescope design and compare their use
  3. Explain and summarise the principles and techniques of observational astronomy across the electromagnetic spectrum
  4. Use problem solving skills to explain and synthesise solutions to problems in multiwavelength astronomy
  5. Design and create, in a team, a telescope application time proposal, by applying communication skills and assessing relevant astronomical information
  6. Apply technical research skills to justify and interpret observational and theoretical propositions, methodologies and professional decisions to specialist and nonspecialist audiences.
  • Assignment 1 - Project (30%)
  • Assignment 2 - Test (20%)
  • Assignment 3 - Essay (20%)
  • Assignment 4 - Assignment (30%)

Textbooks are subject to change within the academic year. Students are advised to purchase their books no earlier than one to two months before the start of a subject

Entry Requirements

Equivalent Subjects

You cannot enrol in this unit if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • SWI-HET606

You are recommended to have completed the following subjects(s) or have equivalent knowledge before starting this unit:

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject aims to provide a good understanding of electromagnetic radiation, focusing on both its emission mechanisms and its subsequent detection, with an emphasis on telescopes and their observations. The electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays to radio waves is covered.

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