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AST2003H


ASTRONOMICAL TECHNIQUES


NOTE: This is a new course that will be offered in 2013 and is an integral part of the Undergraduate major in Astrophysics. It is a practical course focussed 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: Dr Kurt van der Hayden, Room 537 in the RW James Building. Phone 650-4042 (o) or contact via email: heyden[at]ast.uct.ac.za


Course lecturers: Dr Kurt van der Hayden.


Course tutors: To be advised.


Entrance requirements: PHY1004W and MAM100W (pre-requisites), or PHY1023H and MAM1005H (pre-requisites), and PHY1004W and MAM1006H (co-requisites)


Lectures: Two lectures per week (first semester); one lecture per week (second semester). 12 times 2 hour 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%.

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