Astro 121: Research Techniques in Observational Astronomy

Note: this page dates from the offering of the course in spring semester 2014. I've left the page here in hopes that the material may be of use to others who are teaching or learning about this subject. I've also added a new assignment I created in spring 2016 (bottom of the page) on detection of gravitational waves. If you find these materials useful, I'd love to hear from you!

This course covers many of the research tools used by astronomers. These include instruments used to observe at wavelengths across the electromagnetic spectrum; techniques for photometry, spectroscopy, and interferometry; various methods by which images are processed and data are analyzed; and use of online resources including data archives and bibliographic databases. Students will perform observational and data analysis projects throughout the semester.

Textbook and course info

Our text is To Measure the Sky: An Introduction to Observational Astronomy, by Fred Chromey (Cambridge, 2010). Errata for the book are available.

Here is a document with course policies, contact info, topics to be covered, etc.

Weekly assignments

Unless otherwise stated, problems are due by 9 AM Thursday each week.


Who is providing seminar break food this week?


All materials created by Eric Jensen <>.

Sharing and re-use encouraged. If you find these materials useful, or if you have any comments or corrections, I'd appreciate a quick e-mail to let me know. Thanks!

Creative Commons License
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Last modified: Mon Apr 25 10:42:51 EDT 2016