Stockholm university
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Observational Astrophysics II

The course provides a completely hands-on introduction to how astrophysical observations are performed, at optical and radio frequencies. Attendees will use the Onsala 20m radio dish and the Nordic Optical Telescope (NOT) to observe astrophysical bodies and subsequently analyze the data.

ESO VLT and the Milky way
ESO VLT and the Milky way. Image credit: ESO

The course simulates the entire life-span of all astrophysical observations, from proposal writing to publication.  You will travel to Onsala to observe star-forming regions in the Milky Way at radio frequencies, and operate the 2.5 meter Nordic Optical Telescope on La Palma, Spain.  Both are professional telescopes, actively used for research, and you will learn how to design and execute your own observations.  You may observe a range of astrophysical objects including stars, galaxies, nebulae, supernova remnants, etc.  After having obtained your own data you will reduce and analyze them, deriving various physical properties of the objects you observed.

  • Course structure

    This is a mandatory course on the Masters’ program, is given during the day at a pace of 50%.  The trip to Onsala involves spending two nights at the observatory, and the operation of the NOT telescope involves working four (consecutive) nights from Stockholm, typically from 20.00 to 08.00.

    Teaching format

    The course comprises some introductory lectures, but the large majority of the classroom time is devoted to hands-on operation of the telescopes.


    Teacher: Terese Thidemann Hansen

    Teaching Assistant: Anamaria Gkini


    There are three modes of assessment in the course:

    1. An observational proposal for the NOT observations, outlining key setup and requirements to conduct the observations
    2. A report describing the observations and key results from Onsala
    3. A report describing the observations and key results from the NOT


    Matthew Hayes

  • Schedule

    The schedule will be available no later than one month before the start of the course. We do not recommend print-outs as changes can occur. At the start of the course, your department will advise where you can find your schedule during the course.
  • Course literature

    Note that the course literature can be changed up to two months before the start of the course.

    No standard published course literature; various hand-outs and guides will be provided.

  • Course reports

  • Contact

    The academic advisor and student office can be contacted via