• Class Number 2756
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Christopher Lidman
    • Dr Christopher Lidman
    • Dr Rob Sharp
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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 and analysing the resulting data. 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:

  1. Write a successful observing proposal, demonstrating both a compelling science justification and a thorough technical justification;
  2. Reduce multiple types of astronomical data (e.g. imaging, spectroscopic) at different wavelengths;
  3. Investigate the effects of noise propagation in astronomical data and analyse the effect of noise on measurement uncertainties; and
  4. Evaluate the scientific benefits of various types of astronomical observations (such as imaging, spectroscopic, and interferometric)

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.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop running Linux/Mac OSX. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

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 1Fundamentals of light, optical telescopes, instruments detectors and imaging observations Assessment 1 and Assessment 2
2 Session 2Fundamentals of radio telescopes, radio interferometry and optical interferometry part I No formal assignment, but some in-class questions
3 Session 3Fundamentals of Spectroscopy Assessment 3
4 Session 4Adaptive optics, gravitational wave detectors, optical interferometry part II No formal assignment, but some in-class questions
5 Session 5Observing Proposal Assessment 4

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Exposure Time Calculator 20 % 28/03/2024 28/04/2024 1,3,4
Process a NIR imaging data set. 20 % 18/04/2024 05/05/2024 2,3,4
Characterisation of the ANU 2.3 meter telescope WiFeS spectrograph 20 % 09/05/2024 23/05/2024 1,2,3,4
Observing Proposal (final assessment) 30 % * * 1,3,4
Weekly quizzes/quick questions 10 % * * 1,2,3,4

* 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.


This course has been adjusted for remote participation in Sem 1 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. On-campus activities will also be available.


No exam.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 28/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 28/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4

Exposure Time Calculator

This assignment will create an Exposure Time Calculator for a near-IR instrument on a hypothetical 8.2m telescope

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 18/04/2024
Return of Assessment: 05/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4

Process a NIR imaging data set.

Students will download near-IR imaging data obtained with the HAWK-I instrument on the ESO VLT from the ESO archive, and process the data using the ESO pipeline. The students will then count the number of sources in the image and compare to published results.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 09/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 23/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Characterisation of the ANU 2.3 meter telescope WiFeS spectrograph

In this assignment we will explore what fundamental calibrations 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 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4

Observing Proposal (final assessment)

You will have all semester to prepare an observing proposal for a telescope facility, due in the exam period. 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 a mock time allocation committee held during the exam period.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Weekly quizzes/quick questions

Each week there will be a few quick questions that students will need to answer by the following week.

Due: each week

Returned: the following week

Students are expected to contribute on an on-going basis throughout the semester.

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

The ANU uses 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. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.

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).
Dr Christopher Lidman
6125 0238

Research Interests

Observational cosmology, transients

Dr Christopher Lidman

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Christopher Lidman
6125 0238

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Lidman

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Rob Sharp
6125 8035

Research Interests

Observational cosmology, transients

Dr Rob Sharp

By Appointment

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