The University of Southampton
Courses

PHYS2011 Design and Observation in Astronomy

Module Overview

The course takes place during the Easter vacation at La Laguna University, Tenerife, Spain. The course consists of two separately assessed modules. Module 1 is a one week design study of an astronomical spacecraft. Module 2 is a week of practical observations at the Teide Observatory using optical and infra-red telescopes involving both solar and night-time observations. Due to space limitations at the observatory, only 12 students can take part in this module. Offers to participate are made only to the 12 academically strongest students registered on the MPhys with Astronomy Programme, based on performance in Year 1. Academic performance will be judged by the credit-weighted Year 1 average, using only marks obtained at the first attempt (i.e. no referral marks). Only students registered on the MPhys with Astronomy programme by the end of the summer term of their first year will be considered for invitation onto this module.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

The aim of this course is to give students experience in practical astronomy.

Learning Outcomes

Cognitive Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Construct positive interactions with other members of a close team
  • Work closely with people from a different country and background
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Operate in small teams with each member having a specific responsibility
  • Devise a solution to a complicated problem in a relatively short period of time
  • Employ practical skills in operating complex equipment under difficult circumstances (e.g. extreme weather conditions)
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Process data using image processing programmes on PCs.
  • Operate a telescope and find their way around the sky in celestial co-ordinates

Syllabus

Module One – Design in Astrophysics The focus of this part of the course will be a design study for an astronomical spacecraft. It will last one week with the final presentations on the last day. The students will make use of lectures, tutorials and library facilities to assemble a review of the state of knowledge for such a proposed instrumentation challenge. They will work in parallel in 5-6 competing teams made up of half British and half Spanish students. The aim will be to produce a well thought-out presentation after a week of intensive work. The major aspects to be covered will be: - A summary of the scientific objectives - An indication of the overall approach to the task and the reasons for the selection of the particular design - A detailed discussion of the various features in the design solution that was adopted - The presentation of experiment simulations, models etc. Module Two – Observational Astronomy This second module of the course will provide just the Southampton students with a unique opportunity to make a number of quantitative observations at the Teide Observatory, Izana (altitude 2400 m). They will use the 50 cm Mons telescope which is equipped with a CCD camera, and a smaller portable telescope (LX200), also using a CCD camera. In recent years we have also been given access to the research-class IAC-80 0.8 m telescope which employs a large, liquid nitrogen ncooled CCD camera. It is expected that the students will typically spend at least 8 hours per night for 5 nights working on this part of the course. Module Three - Analysing Data and Reporting Results The third part of this course takes place after the return from Tenerife. Here, students are required to choose and carry out a scientific project for which observations were obtained during Module Two. After completing their analysis and interpretation of the observations, they have to write a report in the form of a scientific paper on their work and prepare a poster on the same project. Both the report and the poster are assessed, the latter during a poster session in which students present their poster to members of the astronomy group.

Learning and Teaching

TypeHours
Wider reading or practice14
Follow-up work5
Supervised time in studio/workshop12
Lecture10
Fieldwork100
Completion of assessment task4
Preparation for scheduled sessions5
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

I Ridpath (1998). Norton's Star Atlas and Reference Handbook. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Students must obtain a pass mark in each of the three modules. Module three (only) may be referred. Due to space limitations at the observatory, only 12 students can take part in this module. Offers to participate are made only to the 12 academically strongest students registered on the MPhys with Astronomy programme, based on performance in Year 1. Academic performance will be judged by the credit-weighted Year 1 average, using only marks obtained at the first attempt (i.e. no referral marks). Only students registered on the MPhys with Astronomy programme by the end of the summer term of their first year will be considered for invitation on to this module.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Continuous Assessment 25%
Continuous Assessment 25%
Poster Presentation 15%
Presentation 10%
Report 25%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework marks carried forward %
Report %

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Costs

Costs associated with this module

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this module typically also have to pay for:

Travel Costs for placements

The field trip component takes place over two consecutive weeks within the Easter break, at the premises of the University of La Laguna, Tenerife and at the Observatorio del Teide, Tenerife. While the field trip is heavily subsidised by the faculty, a student contribution to the costs is required; in academic year 2016-17, this was £450 per student. Flight costs, all local travel costs in Spain, and all hotel accommodation costs during the week in La Laguna, all costs of staying at the residencia at the observatory, as well as all food costs during week 2 at the observatory are included. The only unavoidable additional costs students will incur in Spain are food costs during the day in the first week. Any student who genuinely cannot afford to pay the student contribution for some reason should contact the course co-ordinator to discuss this privately.

Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at www.calendar.soton.ac.uk.

Share this module Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.

×