• Class Number 4595
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Naomi McClure-Griffiths
    • Dr Christopher Lidman
    • AsPr Robert Sharp
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
SELT Survey Results

This course is designed to introduce students to the concept of astronomical observations. Through this course they will gain familiarity with many of the key techniques involved in planning observations, analyzing the resulting data, and producing realistic interpretations using appropriate statistical arguments. This course aims to provide useful reference information in a lecture format but to reinforce practical skills with both group and individual activities.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Be able to write a successful observing proposal, demonstrating both a compelling science justification and a thorough technical justification;
  2. Be able to reduce multiple types of astronomical data (including optical, infrared and radio data) and analyze the outputs, forming valid scientific conclusions;
  3. Be able to investigate the effects of noise propagation in astronomical data and analyse the effect of noise on measurement uncertainties;
  4. Be able to evaluate the scientific benefits of various types of astronomical observations (such as radio, infrared, optical, X-ray and gamma-ray), utilize the features of different observational programs and assess their technical requirements;
  5. Be able to produce realistic interpretations of data obtained in different wavebands.

Required Resources

"Essential Radio Astronomy" by Condom & Random available for free online at: https://science.nrao.edu/opportunities/courses/era

“Electronic imaging in Astronomy - Detectors & Instrumentation” by McLean I.S.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Session 1 Fundamentals of light, optical telescopes, instruments detectors and imaging observations Assessment 1
2 Session 2 Fundamentals of radio telescopes and image sensitivity Assessment 2
3 Session 3 Fundamentals of Spectroscopy Assessment 3
4 Session 4 Adaptive optics, instrumentation case study, assessing observing proposals Assessment 4

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Exposure Time Calculator 20 % 01/04/2019 08/04/2019 1,3,4,5
Radio Interferometry Principles and Application 20 % 23/04/2019 06/05/2019 1,2,4,5
Characterisation of the ANU 2.3 meter telescope WiFeS spectrograph 20 % 17/05/2019 27/05/2019 1,2,4
Observing Proposal 30 % 27/05/2019 21/06/2019 1,3,4
Weekly quizes/quick questions 10 % 25/02/2019 07/06/2019 1,2,3,4,5

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website. Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


In class participation is expected as part of the tutorial work.


No exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 01/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 08/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4,5

Exposure Time Calculator

This assignment will create an Exposure Time Calculator for an instrument at Siding Spring Observatory.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 23/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 06/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5

Radio Interferometry Principles and Application

This assignment will explore the observational characteristics of data obtained with a radio interferometer and work through an example data reduction.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 17/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 27/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Characterisation of the ANU 2.3 meter telescope WiFeS spectrograph

In this assignment we will explore what fundamental calibration steps are required in order to take raw camera data from the ANU 2.3 meter telescope “WiFeS” spectrograph and convert it into scientifically interesting data suitable for analysis.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 27/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 21/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4

Observing Proposal

You will have all semester to prepare an observing proposal for a telescope facility. Observing proposals will consist of four parts: (A) Cover sheet [1 page], including the investigators information and the abstract of the proposal, (B) Scientific Justification [2 pages], (C) Technical Requirements [1 page], (D) Target list, including name, coordinates and relevant magnitudes/fluxes. Part of the assessment will be from an in-class mock time allocation committee held during the final week of the semester.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 25/02/2019
Return of Assessment: 07/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Weekly quizes/quick questions

Each week there will be a few quick questions that students will need to prepare either in advance or in class to cover the topics of that week. Pre-class reading will be essential to complete these questions.

Due: each week

Returned: the following week

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) as submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Prof Naomi McClure-Griffiths

Research Interests

My research group explores magnetic fields and interstellar gas in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. I co-lead two surveys with the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP). I have expertise in radio astronomy: including single-dish telescope, radio interferometry, polarization and spectroscopy.

Prof Naomi McClure-Griffiths

Monday 09:30 14:30
Tuesday 09:30 14:30
Wednesday 09:30 14:30
Thursday 09:30 14:30
Friday 09:30 14:30
Dr Christopher Lidman
6125 0238

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Lidman

AsPr Robert Sharp
6125 8035

Research Interests

AsPr Robert Sharp

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions