4 Observational Techniques


The objective of this course is to familiarize the student with the various techniques for observations as used in Astronomy. The student will be required to comprehend basic concepts, nomenclature and unit systems that are commonly employed in astronomical work. Detection techniques and instrumentation will be described as a function of wavelength, including the entire particle and electromagnetic spectrum: neutrino astronomy, gravitational waves, high-energy (gamma-rays and X-rays), UV-optical, near infrared and radio astronomy. For all these regimes, which use different methodologies, data reduction and analysis techniques will be covered. The final goal is that the student acquires sufficient basic knowledge to be able to plan, execute and analyze observations in all branches of Astronomy thus enabling him/her to perform scientific research.


  • Apply the main principles to specific areas such as particle physics, astrophysics of stars, planets and galaxies, cosmology and physics beyond the Standard Model.
  • Formulate and tackle problems, both open and more defined, identifying the most relevant principles and using approaches where necessary to reach a solution, which should be presented with an explanation of the suppositions and approaches.
  • Understand the bases of advanced topics selected at the frontier of high energy physics, astrophysics and cosmology and apply them consistently.
  • Use acquired knowledge as a basis for originality in the application of ideas, often in a research context. Use critical reasoning, analytical capacity and the correct technical language and formulate logical.
  • Use critical reasoning, analytical capacity and the correct technical language and formulate logical arguments.

Learning outcomes

  1. Apply the optical principle of the conceptual design of astronomical cameras and telescopes.
  2. Make a comparative analysis of the different observation techniques (optical astronomy, radioastronomy, etc.).
  3. Plan an optical observation of a series of astronomical objects.
  4. Understand the basics of astronomical observations.
  5. Understand the basics of optical and infrared astronomy.
  6. Understand the basics of radioastronomy.


Basic concepts of astronomy (atmospheric windows, position astronomy, magnitude systems) Solar observation UV, optical and infrared astronomy:

  • Telescopes: optical and mechanical designs, adaptive optics, observation planning
  • Detectors: CCDs, near IR detectors
  • Reduction of astronomical images
  • Photometry and photometric systems
  • Spectroscopy High-energy astrophysics:
  • Detection principles
  • Instrumentation
  • Data analysis Radioastronomy:
  • Detection principles
  • Radiointerferometry
  • Data analysis Gravitational wave astrophysics:
  • Basic principles
  • Detection
  • Instrumentation on the ground and space Neutrino astrophysics:
  • Basic principles Detectors


No specific prerequisites are set for this course, but it is advisable to possess some basic knowledge of Astronomy and Physics.



  • Astrophysical Techniques (CRC Press), C.R. Kitchin, 2013 (6th ed)
  • The Design and Construction of Large Optical Telescopes (Springer), Pierre Y. Bely (editor), 2002 The Sun. An introduction (Springer), Michael Stix, 2002
  • Observational Astrophysics (Springer), Pierre Léna et al., 2012 (3rd ed)
  • Handbook of CCD Astronomy (Cambridge), Steve B. Howell, 2006
  • Handbook of Infrared Astronomy (Cambridge), I.S. Glass, 1999
  • Observational Astronomy: Techniques and Instrumentation (Cambridge), Edmund C. Sutton, 2011 Radiation Detection and Measurement (Wiley), Glenn F. Knoll, 2010 (4th ed)
  • High Energy Astrophysics (Cambridge), Malcom S. Longair, 2011 (3rd ed)
  • Exploring the X-ray Universe (Cambridge), Philip A. Charles, Frederick D. Seward, 2010 (2nd ed) The basics of gravitational wave theory, Eanna E. Flanagan & Scott A. Hughes, New J. Phys., 7, 204, 2005 (arXiv:gr-qc/0501041)
  • Lectures on Neutrino Astronomy: Theory and Experiment (Lectures presented at the TASI School), Francis Halzen, 1998 (arXiv:astro-ph/9810368v1)
  • Tools of Radio Astronomy (A&A Library, Springer), Kirsten Rohlfs, Thomas L. Wilson, 2009 (5th ed)
  • Interferometry and Synthesis in Radio Astronomy (Wiley), A.R. Thompson, J.M. Moran, G.W. Swenson
  • Interferometry and Synthesis in Radio Astronomy (Wiley), A.R. Thompson, J.M. Moran, G.W. Swenson Jr., 2001 (2nd ed)
  • An introduction to Radio Astronomy (Cambridge). Bernard F. Burke, Francis Graham-Smith, 2009 (3rd ed)

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