Offered to students admitted to Year 1 in ALL
Major/Minor ALL
Course Type
Offer in 2023 - 2024 Y N
Course Code PHYS3660
Date2023/09/24 21:08
Enquiry for Course Details
PHYS3660 Astronomy laboratory (6 credits) Academic Year 2023
Offering Department Physics Quota 9
Course Co-ordinator Dr S C Y Ng, Physics < ncy@astro.physics.hku.hk >
Teachers Involved (Dr S C Y Ng,Physics)
Course Objectives This course trains students with basics of extracting scientific information with astronomical observations. The focus is on practical experience in operating telescopes, data acquisition and reduction, and interpretation of the results rather than verification of known astronomical theories.  It is one of the core electives for astronomy minor and an elective course for the astrophysics and experimental physics themes. Upon completion, interested students may apply the techniques learnt here in observational astronomy related capstone courses.
Course Contents & Topics This course will cover the following topics: basics working principles of optical telescopes and CCDs; setting up and hands-on operations of small optical telescopes; error analysis and basic statistics related to the astronomy laboratories; introduction to the magnitude system and celestial coordinates, the color magnitude diagram; observations and data reduction techniques in multi-wavelength astronomy; introduction to data analysis software packages.
Course Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

CLO 1 acquire astronomy observation techniques
CLO 2 conduct observations to verify the physical principle(s) in astronomy
CLO 3 apply analytical methods required to interpret and analyze results, and draw conclusions from the data
CLO 4 use of effective written and verbal communication skills through written laboratory reports and oral presentation
Pre-requisites
(and Co-requisites and
Impermissible combinations)
Pass in (PHYS2265 or PHYS2650); and Pass in PHYS3650, or already enrolled in this course.
Course Status with Related Major/Minor /Professional Core 2023 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2023 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2022 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2021 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2020 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Major in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Major in Physics (Intensive) ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Minor in Astronomy ( Disciplinary Elective )
2019 Minor in Physics ( Disciplinary Elective )
Course to PLO Mapping 2023 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2023 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2022 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2022 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2021 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2021 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2020 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2020 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2019 Major in Physics < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
2019 Major in Physics (Intensive) < PLO 1,2,3,4 >
Offer in 2023 - 2024 Y        1st sem    Examination No Exam     
Offer in 2024 - 2025 Y
Course Grade A+ to F
Grade Descriptors
A Demonstrate thorough mastery at an advanced level of extensive knowledge and skills required for attaining all the course learning outcomes. Show strong analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, with evidence of original thought, and ability to apply knowledge to a wide range of complex, familiar and unfamiliar situations. Apply highly effective organizational and presentational skills. Apply highly effective lab skills and techniques. Critical use of data and results to draw appropriate and insightful conclusions.
B Demonstrate substantial command of a broad range of knowledge and skills required for attaining at least most of the course learning outcomes. Show evidence of analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, and ability to apply knowledge to familiar and some unfamiliar situations. Apply effective organizational and presentational skills. Apply effective lab skills and techniques. Correct use of data of results to draw appropriate conclusions.
C Demonstrate general but incomplete command of knowledge and skills required for attaining most of the course learning outcomes. Show evidence of some analytical and critical abilities and logical thinking, and ability to apply knowledge to most familiar situations. Apply moderately effective organizational and presentational skills. Apply moderately effective lab skills and techniques. Mostly correct but some erroneous use of data and results to draw appropriate conclusions.
D Demonstrate partial but limited command of knowledge and skills required for attaining some of the course learning outcomes. Show evidence of some coherent and logical thinking, but with limited analytical and critical abilities. Show limited ability to apply knowledge to solve problems. Apply limited or barely effective organizational and presentational skills. Apply partially effective lab skills and techniques. Limited ability to use data and results to draw appropriate conclusions.
Fail Demonstrate little or no evidence of command of knowledge and skills required for attaining the course learning outcomes. Lack of analytical and critical abilities, logical and coherent thinking. Show very little or no ability to apply knowledge to solve problems. Organization and presentational skills are minimally effective or ineffective. Apply minimally effective or ineffective lab skills and techniques. Misuse of data and results and/or unable to draw appropriate conclusions.
Communication-intensive Course Y
Course Type Lecture with laboratory component course
Course Teaching
& Learning Activities
Activities Details No. of Hours
Laboratory Conduct astronomy observational and data analysis laboratories 28
Lectures Working principle of telescopes, error analysis, data analysis skills 8
Project work Presentation and preparation 20
Reading / Self study 64
Assessment Methods
and Weighting
Methods Details Weighting in final
course grade (%)
Assessment Methods
to CLO Mapping
Laboratory reports About 10 reports 65 CLO 1,2,3,4
Presentation 1 oral presentation 15 CLO 1,2,3,4
Test 1 in-class test 20 CLO 1,3,4
Required/recommended reading
and online materials
Lecture notes provided by Course Coordinator
L. M. Golden, Laboratory Experiments in Physics for Modern Astronomy, Springer-Verlag (2013)
R. Buchheim, The Sky is Your Laboratory: Advanced Astronomy Projects for Amateurs, Praxis (2007)
Course Website http://moodle.hku.hk
Additional Course Information Students interested in taking this course are required to email the course instructor before end of July.
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