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PHY2029 : Introduction to Observational Astronomy

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Anne Archibald
  • Owning School: Mathematics, Statistics and Physics
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To introduce the students to the basics of modern observational astronomy, the tools for analysing data and an understanding of the science that can be obtained from it.

Module summary

The course will be based around two assignments, each following a published research paper. The students will be taught the tools necessary to replicate the essential data analysis and the science needed to understand and explain the implications of the results.

Outline Of Syllabus

The assignments will be focused on pulsars, using the technique of pulsar timing to understand the rotation of a young pulsar, and using the classic technique of parallax to measure the distance to a millisecond pulsar. Both measurements make possible further scientific conclusions, which the students will understand and explain.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00Formal Lectures – Present in Person
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture21:002:00Revision Lectures – Present in Person
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion371:0037:00Completion of in course assignments/ examination revision
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study411:0041:00Preparation time for lectures, background reading, coursework review
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used for the delivery of theory and explanation of methods, illustrated with examples, and for giving general feedback on marked work.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise2M10Code exercises. Incremental through the term, on line
Written exercise2M45Data analysis problem solving and interpretation
Written exercise2M45Data analysis problem solving and interpretation
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two assignments allow the students to demonstrate their mastery of the techniques for analyzing real astrophysical data and understanding the science that comes from it. The online computer exercises serve to ensure that students have the expertise working with the tools so that in the primary assignments they can focus on the science.

Reading Lists