Astronomical Techniques - WWW Course Notes

I've taught senior/grad courses in techniques for astronomical observation and data analysis, usually using a text such as Kitchin's Astrophysical Techiques as a basis. Inevitably I feel the need to say more... As a supplement, I've prepared fairly extensive notes on some topics. These notes are being updated during the course in spring 2018. For actual students in the course, here is the syllabus.

  • Introduction: far-field detection of radiation, its measurement and (mis)interpretation. We deal with the atmosphere, telescopes and related optics, detection, processing, and auxiliary instruments. Stokes-parameter approach. Photon and wave applications.
  • Detectors: the human eye
  • More detectors: photomultipliers, charge-coupled devices, other types (including IR arrays)
  • Noise and signal-to-noise optimization, Statistics of Poisson processes, model fitting and testing.
  • Telescopes: image formation, diffraction
  • Image formation and aberrations
  • Telescope structures and mountings Tracking and acquisition; moving targets. Atmospheric seeing and adaptive optics.
  • Observatory sites and enclosures; dome seeing, thermal and climatic effects. Atmospheric absorption and transmission windows. Robotic telescope operations.
  • Spacecraft-borne astronomy: orbital considerations, pointing, attitude control and determination.
  • Past and present space observatories.
  • Radio and microwave detection (continuum and line). Radio telescopes - single dish and cross antennae.
  • Imaging: the inverse problem, deconvolution, image display and processing .
  • Photography in astronomy - Chemical theory,processing, archival procedures. Image structure, spectral response, reciprocity, HD curve. Artifacts: saturation, halation, exhaustion, solarization. Hypersensitization, emulsions, films, plates, filter use
  • Astrophotography at the telescope: Guiding, focal locations and relative speeds. Unsharp masking, image amplification,intensifiers. Calibration, densitometry. Iris photometry.
  • Electron imaging: Arrays, scanned detectors, drift scanning, image stacking. CCDs, TVs, intensified systems, photon counters. Some techniques for processing images so you can find out what to measure.
  • Interferometry: 2-element case, fringe pattern, Fourier treatment. Multiple elements - image reconstruction. Deconvolution again.
  • Spectral interferometry: Fabry-Perot, Fourier-transform spectrometer. Occultation observations (they had to fit somewhere).
  • Photometry: Whole art in details. Absolute/differential. Single/multistar applications. Filter/detector (photometric) systems. Inferring stellar parameters.
  • Spectroscopy - observation, calibration, reduction, spectrophotometry.
  • Astrometry: coordinate systems and transformations, spherical trig and matrix formulations. Precession, nutation, aberration of starlight.
  • Polarimetry: emphasis on Q,U,V. Broad-band, single-channel and imaging. Spectropolarimetry.
  • Data presentation and assessment: graphics standards, interaction with eye and brain.
  • Data archives in astronomy
  • Finally, a bit of career advice!
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