2003 Fall Astronomy 501: Modern Astronomical Techniques (Part II)  (3 units)

Instructor Information

Click to go directly to: Course Details, Course Description, Grading Policies, Schedules (PrintVersion), Paper References, Useful Links

Course Details:

Prerequisites: Graduate standing and permission of instructor.

Course Schedule

Primary Textbook:

"Interferometry and Synthesis in Radio Astronomy (2nd edition)" by Thompson, Moran, & Swenson

(Copies should be available on the online bookstores; one copy has been placed on reserve at the Shapiro Science Library)

Recommended Readings:

Other potentially useful texts will be placed on reserve at the Shapiro Science Library. These include:

Course Description:

The physical, mathematical, and practical methods of modern astronomical observations at all wavelengths are covered at a level that will prepare students to comprehend published data and prepare for their own observations. The second half of this course will focus on the following major topics:

Grading Policies:

Grading will have a few components. There will be approximately one homework assignment per two weeks covering the lectures and assigned readings. There will be a two-hour final exam at the end of the term covering material from both sections of class. Lastly, participation in class discussions will also play a role in your grade. The final grading will be done according to the following table:

Assignment Percentage
Homework 60%
Final Exam 20%
Participation 20%

Homework Policies:

Late homework is accepted, but suffers a 2-letter-grade penalty for each day late. While you may work in groups, each problem set should reflect your own understanding and be in your own words. Credit will not be given for answers that do not have adequate derivation (i.e., show your work).

Schedule for AY501: Last updated 2003Nov02 (schedules subject to change)

Date Readings Topics Homework
Wed Oct 22 Polarimetry #1
Fri Oct 24 Infrared Detectors (photoconductors, photodiodes, noise processes, MUXs, visit SNAP lab)
Mon Oct 27
Wed Oct 29 * Rescheduled (see Peach Mountain Visit below)
Fri Oct 31 Bolometers (basics, types, noise, cryogenics, examples) Due #1
Mon Nov 3
Wed Nov 5 Background-limited observing (dewars, lyot stops, chop/nod, *SNR*, advantages of SPACE)
Fri Nov 7
Mon Nov 10 MSS5 Atmospheric Turbulence Theory (Kolmogorov)
Wed Nov 12 Adaptive Optics
Fri Nov 14 Radio Astronomy (signal processing, telescopes, antenna theory, hardware, observing methods, spectroscopy) Due #2
Mon Nov 17
Wed Nov 19
Fri Nov 21 TMS


Radio Interferometry (single-baseline, important effects, VLBI)
Mon Nov 24
Wed Nov 26 No Class
Fri Nov 28 No Class (Thanksgiving)
Mon Dec 1 Monnier 2003; MSS Optical Interferometry (coherent combination, closure phase) Due #3
(Tue Dec 02) Visit to Peach Mountain Radio Observatory
Wed Dec 3 TMS(Ch5,10,11), MSS Aperture Synthesis Imaging (imaging theory, deconvolution, CLEAN, Maximum Entropy, self-calibration)
Fri Dec 5
Mon Dec 8
Wed Dec 10
Special Topics (optical fibers, coronagraphy, ...)
Due #4

Printable Version of Schedule

Paper References:


Michelson Summer School Notes:

Useful Links:

The following links may be useful at various points during the class. Please send me additional links you have found useful, and I will include these for your classmates' benefit.

IDL Resources:

Radio Astronomy (General):