University of Heidelberg

Observational Astronomy (MKEP5)

Summersemester, 2011

Andreas Quirrenbach, Roy van Boekel and Cornelis Dullemond

Important News:

  • The continuation of the turbulence theory and seeing will be on Monday May 31
  • The date for the examination (Klausur) is set! See below.


This lecture gives an overview over methods of astronomical observations across the electromagnetic spectrum (gamma-rays, X-rays, UV/optical, infrared, millimeter and radio). We will discuss this from various perspectives:

  • Practicalities of the methods and of observational astronomy as a whole
    We will discuss the basics of time measurement, celestial coordinate systems (and their variations in time), aspects of absolute astrometry, catalogs of astronomical objects, web-based archives for catalogs and databases. For various observational techniques we will discuss the physical principles, data analysis, data reduction and calibration methods.
  • The theory and physics behind the methods
    We will discuss issues like geometric optics, aberration, wave propagation, Fresnel/Fraunhofer diffraction, the theory of diffraction patters (point spead functions) of telescopes, atmospheric turbulence and seeing, atmospheric transmission and emission, coherence of light, stochastic signals, bias, van Cittert-Zernike theorem and the theory of interferometry.
  • The techniques used, including examples of actual telescopes and instruments
    We will discuss telescope design and detector technology for the various wavelength domains, and, as a more in-depth topic, we will discuss adaptive optics.
  • A few example applications
    During the course of the lecture we will also every now and then present an example of what kind of astrophysical observations are done with these techniques.

We will try to be as broad as possible, but naturally we will put some more emphasis on the wavelength domains of our own expertise.

You can have a look at last year's lecture for a preview of some of the lecture material.


This lecture is a "Wahlpflicht" (="Kernbereich") course of the Master program. It has 8 Credit Points. It consists of:

  • 2x2 Hours per week main lecture. Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:15-11:00, in the neue Hoersaal Philosophenweg 12.
  • 2 Hours per week exercise class. There are two classes (starting Thursday 28 April):
    • Thursdays 11:15 - 13:00 in KIP, INF 227, SR 2.403
    • Thursdays 14:15 - 16:00 in Phil.weg 12, neue Hörsaal (nHS)
  • Lab course is no longer part of this module.

This lecture will have a "Klausur" (= written examination) which will be graded.

The Klausur will take place on Thursday 28.07.2011, 09:00 in the Philos.-weg 12 / gHS. The exam will have the usual 2 hour duration.

Schedule (tentative!):

Tuesday 12.04Roy van BoekelIntroduction slide show
Thursday 14.04Roy van BoekelCoordinates and time
Tuesday 19.04Andreas QuirrenbachCatalogs, archives and their web-based access
Thursday 21.04Andreas QuirrenbachGeometric optics
Tuesday 26.04Andreas QuirrenbachTelescope design + aberrations I
Thursday 28.04Andreas QuirrenbachTelescope design + aberrations II
Tuesday 03.05Kees DullemondDiffraction Theory I
Thursday 05.05Kees DullemondDiffraction Theory II
Tuesday 10.05Kees DullemondAtmospheric turbulence effects + signal theory I
Thursday 12.05Kees DullemondAtmospheric turbulence effects + signal theory II
Tuesday 17.05Roy van BoekelAtmospheric transmission
Thursday 19.05Roy van BoekelCCDs and IR detectors I
Tuesday 24.05Roy van BoekelImaging + Photometry (+demos) I
Thursday 26.05Roy van BoekelImaging + Photometry (+demos) II
Tuesday 31.05Kees DullemondAtmospheric turbulence effects + signal theory III
Thursday 02.06--- Ascension day --- --- No lecture ---
Tuesday 07.06Kees DullemondRadiative transfer: Interpretation of observed light
Thursday 09.06Kees DullemondSpectroscopy + spectrometers I
Tuesday 14.06Kees DullemondSpectroscopy + spectrometers II
Thursday 16.06Kees DullemondQuestion round
Tuesday 21.06Kees DullemondInterferometry I
Thursday 23.06 --- Fronleichnam ------ No lecture ---
Tuesday 28.06Kees DullemondInterferometry II
Thursday 30.06Andreas QuirrenbachInterferometry III
Tuesday 05.07Kees DullemondX-ray and gamma-ray astronomy
Thursday 07.07Roy van BoekelObservational astronomy highlights
Tuesday 12.07Andreas QuirrenbachAdaptive optics I
Thursday 14.07Andreas QuirrenbachAdaptive optics II

On-line material:

The material of this lecture will be somewhat diverse. It consists partly of Powerpoint presentations and partly (the more mathematical parts of the lecture) of LaTeX PDF documents. Also some references to material on the web will be posted. But this material will be posted as we go, and not all material will be posted in electronic form (and will instead be handed out during the lecture). The three lecturers will lecture at different dates, taking turns.

Again, see last year's lecture for a preview of some of the lecture material.

Lecture material of Dullemond's lecture hours:


A. Quirrenbach
Zentrum fuer Astronomie Heidelberg, Landessternwarte
69117 Heidelberg
Tel: 06221-541792

R. van Boekel
Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie
Koenigstuhl 17
69117 Heidelberg
Tel: 06221-528-405

C. Dullemond
Zentrum fuer Astronomie Heidelberg, Institut für theoretische Astrophysik
Albert Ueberle Str 2
69122 Heidelberg
Tel: 06221-544815
Until August 2011 also:
Max Planck Institut fü Astronomie,
Phone: 06221-528-395.

Responsible: Cornelis Petrus Dullemond, last modification Jun/06/2015 23:32 CEST
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