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Astronomy Lab and Observing Project


Admission requirements

  • The course Praktische Sterrenkunde must be completed.

  • Participation in the La Palma trip is optional and only open to students who have obtained their first-year diploma (propedeuse) within one year.


The Astronomy Lab and Observing Project will introduce students to the practical aspects of observational astronomy. The course consists of three main parts with the most important being the definition, execution and analysis of observations with the 2.5 m Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma. The other two parts will introduce students to the handling of telescope images and the identification and analysis of objects and to the fitting of models to observational data. Each part is introduced in a lecture and carried out with the supervision of the assistants during practical classes using computers running Linux.

Course objectives

The course has several goals, aiming to prepare students for future practical research and to provide valuable lessons for all astronomical research. The main goals are:

  • Preparation, execution and analysis of astronomical observations with a professional telescope;

  • Practical error analysis;

  • Fitting of models to data, for instance using the weighted chi-square fit.

Soft skills

In this course, students will be trained in the following behaviour-oriented skills:

  • Problem solving (recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking)

  • Analytical skills (analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence)

  • Structured thinking (structure, modulated thinking, computational thinking, programming)

  • Complex ICT-skills (data analysis, programming, simulations, complex ICT applications)

  • Project management (planning, scope, boundaries, result-orientation)

  • Responsibility (ownership, self-discipline, bear mistakes, accountability)

  • Motivation (commitment, pro-active attitude, initiative)

  • Self-regulation (independence, self-esteem, aware of own goals, motives and capacities)

  • Written communication (writing skills, reporting, summarizing)

  • Collaboration (teamwork, group support, loyalty, attendance)

  • Flexibility (adaptability, dealing with change, teachability, eagerness to learn)

  • Critical thinking (asking questions, check assumptions)

  • Creative thinking (resourcefulness, curiosity, thinking out of the box)

  • Integrity (honesty, moral, ethics, personal values)


See Schedules bachelor Astronomy 2017-2018.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Practical classes

  • Excursion to La Palma, one of the Canary Islands (participation is optional and limited to students having obtained their first-year diploma (propedeuse) within one year)

Assessment method

  • Written report

  • Poster presentation

The course is divided in three parts that count equally. The first two parts of the course are done on the basis of an obligatory report and the observing project is evaluated on the basis of the quality of the observing proposal, the preparation and execution of observations at the telescope and the final presentation of results in the form of a poster. The final grade is the average of the grade of the three sub-components to the course.


Lecture notes, additional readings and assignments will be provided on Blackboard. To have access, you need an ULCN account. More information:

Reading list

The necessary background material will be handed out during the course.


Register via uSis. More information about signing up for classes and exams can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to register. For a la carte and contract registration, please see the dedicated section on the Prospective students website.

Contact information

Lecturer: Dr. Jarle Brinchmann
Lecturer: Dr. Reinout van Weeren
Assistants: Sebastiaan Haffert, Christos Georgiou, Esmee Stoop, Stefanie Brackenhoff