NOTE: This is a practical course focused on astronomical techniques. A major component of this course involves a radio and optical practical which requires students to work with the optical and radio telescopes outside of normal lecture slots. For the optical project, groups of two or three students need to book time on the 14-inch telescope located on the roof of the RW James telescope to work at night time, typically involving four sessions of 2.5 hours. If you sign up for this course, you need to be available for each practical session as this is a required component of this course.
Course outline: This course combines a large practical component (radio and optical astronomy practicals) with theoretical background in astronomical techniques, instrumentation and data analysis. The techniques, instrumentation and data analysis includes: Positional astronomy: time systems, spherical astronomy, coordinate systems and conversions, astrometry; Detection systems: interaction of radiation and matter, ultraviolet and optical detectors; Optics and telescope design; Multi-wavelength astronomy: infrared, ultraviolet, X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy, fundamentals of radio astronomy; Observational techniques: photometry and spectroscopy; Orthodox statistics: probability distribution, Chi-squared distribution, propagation of errors; Stochastic processes and noise: photon noise. Course material related to the optical and radio practical field work components is taught in 12 blocks of 2 hours by arrangement.
Course co-ordinator :Prof Patrick Woudt, Room 5.39.1 in the RW James Building. Phone 021 650 2392 (o).
Course lecturers : Dr Sally Macfarlane (optical astronomy), Dr Srikrishna Sekhar (radio astronomy)
Lectures: Tuesday and Thursday, 2nd period (No Thursday lecture in the second Semester). Lectures associated with the practicals by arrangement. Room: TBD
Course textbook: To be advised.
Tutorials: Five tutorials over the year, Wednesday, 14h00 - 16h30, by arrangement.
DP requirement: Satisfactory attendance at lectures and tutorials. Attendance at all fieldwork practicals. Class record of at least 35%.
Assessment: Two class tests 15%; 5 tutorials over the year in which students will learn astronomical data analysis and statistical techniques count 10%. One two-hour theoretical examination counts 25%; two projects count 40% and presentation counts 10%.