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Modern Astronomical Research


Admission requirements



What is the size and structure of the Universe? How do stars and planets form and evolve? Could there be life elsewhere in the Universe? These are some of the most fascinating open questions of Humanity.

In this introductory course on modern astronomical research, you learn what modern astronomy is and what it means to be a successful researcher in astronomy. You will learn how to tackle challenging research questions and where to start searching for an answer. You will also learn how to communicate these answers to colleagues through different approaches, from research publications to scientific presentations. In addition, you will understand the different career paths of astronomers.

During the course, you will explore research repositories, write a commentary essay based on a research presentation and deliver a presentation to fellow colleagues.

The course address the following topics:

  • Current field of modern astronomy

  • Knowledge-bases: Astronomy databases and research articles repositories (e.g.: ADS and astro-ph)

  • Research Communication with peers: Publications and Presentations

  • Astronomy Careers

Course objectives

After this course, you are able to summarize the current astronomy research landscape.

More specifically, after this course you can:

  • Describe the main research questions in current Astronomy and list different techniques that astronomers tackle this questions

  • Identify the main knowledge databases used in astronomy for astronomical data and research publications

  • Define a research publication workflow and peer-review processes

  • List the main sections of a research publication and compare it with the main open research questions

  • Summarize and judge the results of a research publication

  • List the main components of a successful presentation

  • Develop and deliver a presentation based on a research publication

  • Recognize the different careers steps of a professional astronomer and possible alternative career paths

Soft skills

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

  • Deliver a well designed and developed presentation

  • Write a structured essay on judging a presentation

  • Present research to fellow colleagues in a convincing and inspiring way


See Schedules bachelor Astronomy

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Assessment method

  • Three assignments: 45% of the final grade

  • A video presentation of a scientific paper: 55% of the final grade

The retake exam consists of an additional homework assignment. Each additional assignment can count for 1/3 of the score.


Instructions and course material can be found on Brightspace. Registration for Brightspace occurs automatically when students enroll in uSis via uSis by registration for a class activity using a class number

Reading list



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

Lecturers: Dr. P.M. (Pedro) Russo
Assistants: Remon van Gaalen, Rens Kievit, Julia Pessers