Academic Year 2020/2021 - 1° Year - Curriculum ASTROPHYSICS
Teaching Staff: Francesco LEONE
Credit Value: 6
Scientific field: FIS/01 - Experimental physics
Taught classes: 28 hours
Laboratories: 30 hours
Term / Semester:

Learning Objectives

Goal of the course is provide an overview of the modern astrophysical techniques.

Students are expected to be able to operate a telescope and the instrumentations for spectroscopy and imaging.

Any student will be able to acquire and reduce astronomical data in a Linux oeprative system.

Course Structure

In addition to lectures, the course will consists of:

Practical experiences in the Optical Laboratory.

Compatibly with concrete possibility, Observations with the optical and Cherenkov telescopes of the Catania Astrophysical Observatory (Mount Etna) and Radio Telescope of Noto.

Numerical excercises in data reduction with IRAF:

Note: should the circumstances require online or blended teaching, appropriate modifications to what is hereby stated may be introduced, in order to achieve the main objectives of the course.

Detailed Course Content


The operative system LINUX, Interactive Data Language, Latex.

The electromagnetic radiation. Stokes parameters.

The Earth atmosphere: absorption and emission spectrum

Stellar spectra,: Spectral types and Luminosity classes

Fourier Transforms, Convolutions


Telescopes: optics, aberrations, configurations, montings.

Telescopes for visible, X-ray, ultraviolet, infrared and radio.


Signals, analogic signals, sampling and digitalisation, Nyquist theorem.

General properties: dark current, reading noise and background noise.

Detectors for visible light: hystory: photographic plates and photomultipliers. Bolometers. CCD.

Detectors for radio and microwaves: recivers

Detectors for X and gamma rays.

Detectors for cosmic rays and neutrinos.

Observational methods:


Optics for imaging.

Photometric systems.

Background: sky, Moon, solar system, Galaxy

Experience at the Telescopes of the INAF-Catania Astrophysical Observatory on mount Etna.

Data reduction with IRAF.


Spectrographs. Theory. Configurations and properties.

Experience at the Telescope. Data reduction with IRAF.

Experience in the optical lab: allignement of a spectrograph on an optical bench.


Principles of polarimetry, methods in Astrophysics.

Experience at the Telescopes of the INAF-Catania Astrophysical Observatory on mount Etna.


Experience at the Noto Radio Telescopes of the INAF-Institute of Radio Astronomy.

Textbook Information

  1. Gray D.F., The observation and analysis of stellar spectra – Cambridge Astrophysics Series
  2. Kitchin C.R., Astrophysical Techniques - Publisher Institute of Physics Publishing
  3. Mihalas D., - Stellar Atmospheres. - San Francisco: W. H. Freeman & Company