Observing the Universe

School of Physics and Astronomy

College of Engineering and Physical Sciences


Code 21280

Level of study Second Year

Credit value 10

Semester 2

Module description

Our view of the history and current nature of the Universe has changed dramatically over the last two decades, largely due to the development of sophisticated telescopes and instruments, capable of observing astronomical objects from the ground and from space. In this module, we will study the physics of astronomical observations, looking in detail at telescopes and instruments for observing over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum - from the traditional instruments for observing at optical and radio wavelengths, to modern instruments for observing and the infrared, x-ray and gamma-ray regions of the spectrum. We will pay particular attention to the complexities of observing from space. We will study imaging methods using digital detectors, spectroscopic techniques using prisms and gratings, and methods of interferometry and aperture synthesis for higher resolution. We will also study some emerging technologies, for instance the detection of gravitational waves.
Module website: http://www.sr.bham.ac.uk/~somak/Y2OtU/