Observational Techniques

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This course is given by prof. H. Van Winckel. It consists of 11 two-hour lectures given in the first semester. As course material, there is a 80 pages course, plus slides, plus some copies from other books. During the year, two exercises are given. You have to send in the answers in form of a paper before Newyear. The examination is personal: the professor prepares different questions about everyone's paper, which you can prepare and then you have to defend your paper during the oral part of the examination. Be sure to bring a print out of your reports and a calculator!

In 2020-2021, the first exercise was about plotting the SED of a post-AGB star given its location. For the second report, we had to analyse the aspects of HERMES's echelle given reduced data of some night of observations. Both of the exercises were quite unclear as you'll likely be unfamiliar with the tools you have to use and the goals of the exercise are not made very clear, these papers can be rather frustrating. It is highly recommended you regularly ask the professor/fellow students questions and start early. At least gather data and make sure you can use the python programs provided by the prof before the exam period so you don't have to deal with technical difficulties under stress.


Some example questions:

  • What are three things you would like to improve about your report
  • (Interferometry) Given a plot of the closure phase to baseline over wavelength and squared visibility to baseline over wavelength, determine what sort of object was measured.
  • Can you tell which month will be ideal to observe the star you discussed in your paper?
  • Given the outflow speed of dust from an AGB star, and the temperature of the dust, can you calculate the time till the outburst? (This is an exercise that was solved in the course Radiative Processes)
  • Why are spectroscopic measurements seldom flux calibrated unlike photometric observations?
  • Explain some figure in your report in detail.