PHYC40890 Astronomy Field Trip (10)

Academic Year 2023/2024

The aim of this course is to give students experience in developing their research skills and in carrying out practical astronomical observations. The module consists of the following components:

1. A number of lectures, tutorials and assignments to provide an introduction to the major theoretical and practical aspects of the module
2. Preparation of a detailed literature review that addresses a question in modern astronomy of the student’s own choosing. This will form the basis for the telescope observations to be carried out
3. Completion of a detailed observing proposal, based on the literature review
4. Five-seven nights of practical observations at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Spain, using the IAC-80 0.8m and the Carlos Sanchez 1.5m professional telescopes or to the Calar Alto Observatory in Almeria, Spain, using the 1.23m professional telescope [50-70 hours]
5. In-depth analysis and interpretation of data taken
6. Presentation of a final report

Students in Stage 4 of the Physics with Astronomy & Space Science programme must take this module. Observations will usually take place during the March field-trip break.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students will be able to:
- formulate a hypothesis to be tested, based on a thorough review of the relevant literature
- construct a night observing plan, including target selection based on source visibility and lunar constraints
- demonstrate proficiency and practical skill in all aspects of telescope operation, including flat-field and other calibration measurements, focussing, data acquisition and image quality assessment
- navigate their way around the night-sky using celestial co-ordinates
- collaborate with others to solve problems under time pressure
- write software pipelines in a suitable language (e.g. Python) for the reduction, calibration and analysis of data taken at the telescope
- interpret the results of observations and make quantitative, robust statements about outcomes, including uncertainties
- present scientific results comprehensively and fluently, orally and in writing

Indicative Module Content:

Literature review of an astronomical topic
Development of software tools for astronomical data analysis
Research project

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Specified Learning Activities




Field Trip/External Visits




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
The module consists of a series of workshops/tutorials where we cover the topics needed to develop the students' research projects. The students must use on-line tools to do their literature review and data analysis report.
The projects are closely supervised via formal and informal meetings with the module coordinator.

The students will have to present their research ideas via informal oral presentations. The project is presented at the end of the semester. A written report must be submitted as well describing the student's findings. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: Observational proposal Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Presentation: Oral presentation of the project Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Project: Written report of the scientific study Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: This includes: literature review, data analysis report and work done during the field trip Throughout the Trimester n/a Standard conversion grade scale 40% No


Carry forward of passed components
Remediation Type Remediation Timing
In-Module Resit Prior to relevant Programme Exam Board
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Students will get the grades and individual feedback of all the assignments before the submission of the next one.

Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
2 Trimester (Sep-May)
Lecture Offering 50 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Fri 11:00 - 11:50