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Course Details

Course Details

Course Code: SPST633 Course ID: 3934 Credit Hours: 3 Level: Graduate

This course examines the design and construction of astronomical instruments, including mechanical design and machining, optics and commensurate optical system design, and both real-time and near-real time computer control. UV, X-ray, and gamma-ray spectrum instrumentation will also be addressed.

Course Schedule

Registration Dates Course Dates Session Weeks
01/25/21 - 07/02/21 07/05/21 - 08/29/21 Summer 2021 Session B 8 Week session
03/29/21 - 09/03/21 09/06/21 - 10/31/21 Summer 2021 Session D 8 Week session

Current Syllabi

Upon completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Appreciate the historical development of astronomical instrumentation.
  • Differentiate between the different basic optical designs.
  • Describe issues that may affect telescope optical quality.
  • Discuss the various methods of analyzing light (e.g., spectroscopy and photometry).
  • List the major astronomical observatories across the globe and in space.
  • Understand advanced telescopic techniques such as active and adaptive optics.
  • Discuss astronomical instrumentation for use across the electromagnetic spectrum.
  • Recite “cutting-edge” discoveries made via astronomical instrumentation.
  • Elaborate on the future development of telescopes and associated instrumentation.

Your final grade will consist of an average of the following items:

Forum Participation: Eight times throughout this course discussion items will be posted within the Forum area of the classroom. Your responses must be between 100-300 words, be in YOUR OWN WORDS, well written and grammatically correct. Sources used must be cited at the end of your posting (not included in the word count). Your responses will clearly show whether you have completed assigned classroom readings. Opinions are always welcome… However, postings providing only opinions will be graded accordingly! Be sure to read the directions associated with each posting.

Weekly Quizzes: Quizzes are designed to review assigned reading or video assignments. Quizzes are to be taken online, and you will get two attempts at each quiz to help you master the material. The highest score of the two attempts is the one that is kept. Quizzes must be taken during specific dates. Although open book, students are not to give or receive help on the weekly quizzes.

Homework Assignments: There are eight homework assignments for this course, each covering various aspects of assigned course readings. Information on homework assignments will be posted within the Assignments area of the classroom, on the days listed in the Announcements (home) page.

NameGrade %
Introductions Forum 3.00 %
Introductions Forum 3.00 %
Forums 21.00 %
Week 2 Forum 3.00 %
Week 3 Forum 3.00 %
Week 4 Forum 3.00 %
Week 5 Forum 3.00 %
Week 6 Forum 3.00 %
Week 7 Forum 3.00 %
Week 8 Forum 3.00 %
Quizzes 24.00 %
Week 1 Quiz 3.43 %
Week 2 Quiz 3.43 %
Week 3 Quiz. 3.43 %
Week 4 Quiz. 3.43 %
Week 5 Quiz 3.43 %
Week 6 Quiz 3.43 %
Week 7 Quiz 3.43 %
Assignments 39.00 %
Week 1 Assignment 6.50 %
Week 2 Assignment 6.50 %
Week 3 Assignment 6.50 %
Week 4 Assignment 6.50 %
Week 5 Assignment 6.50 %
Week 6 Assignment 6.50 %
Homework Week 7 & 8 13.00 %
Week 7 & 8 Homework 13.00 %

Additional Reading:

Announcements, forums, online lessons, and selected journal articles


In addition to the required course texts, the following public domain websites are useful. Please abide by the university’s academic honesty policy when using Internet sources as well. Note Web site addresses are subject to change.

Site Name

Website URL/Address

Hubble Space Telescope

Spitzer Space Telescope

Arecibo radio Observatory

Observatories in Space

Book Title:Eyes on the Sky : A Spectrum of Telescopes (Ebook available in the APUS Online Library)
Publication Info:Oxford University Press
Author:Graham-Smith, F.
Book Title:Telescopes: A Very Short Introduction
Publication Info:Oxford University Press
Author:Cottrell, G.
Unit Cost:$11.95
Electronic ISBN:9780191063015
Electronic Unit Cost:$7.99

Previous Syllabi

Not current for future courses.