Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse – Københavns Universitet

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Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse

Observational Astronomy

Practical information
Study year 2016/2017
Programme level Full Degree Master
Course responsible
  • Johan Peter Uldall Fynbo (6-6c687b7064714270646b306d7730666d)
  • The Niels Bohr Institute
Course number: NFYK16006U

Course content

The purpose of the summer course is to become familiar with basic elements of modern observational astrophysics and the heart of the course is an observing trip to the Nordic Optical Telescope at which we during three nights will carry out an observational program.


Structure of the Course

The course has three elements:

1) a preparation phase, 2) the actual observations at the telescope,

and 3) a data reduction and report writing phase.


Objective of the Course

The objective of the course is to give the students an introduction to the central elements in preparation, execution and data reduction relating observations at a modern astrophysical observatory.



- phase 1: application for observing time, astronomical instruments, preparation of observing runs (target visibility, finding charts, signal-to-noise considerations).

- phase 2: execution of astrophysical observations at the Nordic Optical Telescope. When possible we will also visit other telescopes on Roque del los Muchachos (e.g., the Swedish solar telescope, the Isaac Newton Group telescopes or the Spanish GTC).

- phase 3: reduction and publication of data.

Learning outcome

Competences/Knowledge and Skills

The student will after having passed the course be able to:

  • apply for observing time (although there is no guarantee that time will be granted)
  • prepare an observing run. This includes determining when a given target can be observed during the year and on a given night, how long the target should be observed to reach a specified signal-to-noise ratio, establishing which calibration data are needed, and interact with the observatory staff about which instrumental setup is needed for the run.
  • Carry out astrophysical observations in an efficient and careful manner.
  • Extract the astrophysically relevant information from a dataset and write up a report presenting the conclusions in a clear and comprehensive manner.

Recommended prerequisites

There are no formal prerequisites but some basic knowledge of astronomy
corresponding to an introductory astronomy course is an advantage.


It is possible to sign up for summer courses twice a year. It is recommended that you sign up for this course in the earliest possible period (fall period, when you also sign up for block 3 and 4 courses), as there may not be available places for the later sign-up.

Sign up

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MSc Programme in Physics


Study Board of Physics, Chemistry and Nanoscience

Course type

Upper secondary school teacher degree (minor subject)


1 block


The course will be in the last three weeks of August, observation days to be announced. Please contact the course responsible.
Some preparation before the course start should be expected.
---- SKEMA LINK ----

Teaching and learning methods

Project work and field observations.


10 students




Category Hours
Excursions 75
Preparation 71
Project work 60
English 206


Type of assessment

Written assignment
A final report should be handed in based on the observational data. The report can be written individually or in a Group of up to 4 students.

Marking scale

passed/not passed

Criteria for exam assessment

see learning outcome.

Censorship form

No external censorship
several internal examiners


It is not possible to fulfill the exam registration requirements before the re-exam for a student who has not participated in the observational excursion. The student must follow the course next year.

Students who participated, but did not have a report approved, can submit a new report.

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