Astronomical observations

Physics, First Cycle
Educational Physics
1 year
Hours per week – 2. semester:

Enrollment in academic year.

Content (Syllabus outline)

Historical introduction: basis of calendar, eclipses, size and distances of the Earth, Moon and Sun, distances in the Solar system, rotational period of the Earth, leap second.

Positional astronomy: concept of celestial sphere, spherical trigonometry, calculation of altitude and azimuth, culmination, time above horizon, sidereal time, effects of atmospheric refraction, aberration, precession, parallax and proper motion.

Solar apparent motion: coordinates, mean and true Solar time, illumination, occurence of seasons.

Astronomical telescopes: lens, mirror, combining the two elements, types of telescopes, light collecting power, image scale, image brightness, depth of field, magnification, telescope mounts.

Digital detectors: their size, image presentation, photometric filters.

Astronomical magnitudes: apparent and absolute magnitude, basics of reduction of photometric observations.

Basics of astronomical spectroscopy: spectrograph, measurable quantities.


H. Karttunen et al.: Fundamental Astronomy, Fifth Edition, Springer, 2007.
R.M. Green: Spherical astronomy, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
Gordon Walker: Astronomical observations: an optical perspective. Cambridge University Press, 1987.
Astronomska revija Spika, 1993-2013.
Presekova zvezdna karta, DMFA, 2000; Spikina vrtljiva zvezdna karta.
B. Kambič: Raziskujmo ozvezdja z daljnogledom 10x50 / Viewing constellation with Binoculars, Springer, 2010.

Objectives and competences

Mastering of basics of astronomical observations, of understanding of the universe using laws of physics, and of the related methods.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding: Understanding of the basics of the physical picture of the Universe, its foundations, and acknowledging its present limitations.

Application: Basic knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics, experience of the universality of physics, experience of inventive measurements in difficult conditions.

Reflection: The Universe contains most diverse physical environments, but it can be understood with physics as we know it.

Transferable skills: Critical evaluation of information, examples of measurements in physics in different situations, examples of manipulation of digital data, basics of photographic techniques.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures, computational and practical exercises, astro-lab reports.


Written exam, presentation of astro-lab report
Oral exam
grading: 5 (fail), 6-10 (pass) (according to the Statute of UL)

Lecturer's references

prof. dr. T. Zwitter:
1. KOS, Janez, ZWITTER, Tomaž, et al. Pseudo-three-dimensional maps of the diffuse interstellar band at 862 nm. Science, ISSN 1095-9203, 15. avgust 2014, vol. 345, no. 6198, str. 791-795., [COBISS-SI-ID 473217], [JCR, SNIP, Scopus do 1. 10. 2014: št. citatov (TC): 0, čistih citatov (CI): 0, normirano št. čistih citatov (NC): 0]
2. ŽERJAL, Maruška, ZWITTER, Tomaž, MATIJEVIČ, Gal, et al. Chromospherically active stars in the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) Survey : I. The catalog. The Astrophysical journal, ISSN 0004-637X, 2013, vol. 776, issue 2, article id. 127, str. 1-12. [COBISS-SI-ID 418945],
3. KOS, Janez, ZWITTER, Tomaž, et al. Diffuse interstellar band at 8620 Å in RAVE : a new method for detecting the diffuse interstellar band in spectra of cool stars. The Astrophysical journal, ISSN 0004-637X, 2013, vol. 778, issue 2, article id. 86, str. 1-11. [COBISS-SI-ID 421249]
4. ZWITTER, Tomaž, MATIJEVIČ, Gal, et al. Distance determination for RAVE stars using stellar models : II. most likely values assuming a standard stellar evolution scenario. Astronomy & astrophysics, ISSN 0004-6361, 2010, let. 522, št. A54, str. 1-15. [COBISS-SI-ID 363905]
5. ZWITTER, Tomaž, RE FIORENTIN, Paola, MATIJEVIČ, Gal, VIDRIH, Simon, et al. The radial velocity experiment (RAVE): second data release. The Astronomical journal, ISSN 0004-6256, 2008, let. 136, št. 1, str. 421-451. [COBISS-SI-ID 309377]