Principles of radiation astronomy

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This image is a composite of several types of radiation astronomy: radio, infrared, visual, ultraviolet, soft and hard X-ray. Credit: NASA.

The course objective is to provide students with the principles of radiation astronomy. At the end of the course, a student should have a well-rounded knowledge of astronomy, radiation, and observational and theoretical astronomy, each as they apply to radiation sources in the sky especially at night.

The course is built upon the ongoing research performed by astronomers around the world and in the not so empty space above the Earth's atmosphere.

In line with the Wikiversity ideal of learning by doing are sixteen laboratory opportunities, an equal number of problem sets at several levels, and participatory lessons. To present a wide variety of concepts within radiation astronomy, there are forty-eight lectures which are also partly articles as references from the scholarly literature are included to challenge the student and open doors to further curiosity. Some sixteen supplemental quiz section lectures/articles are included for additional learning.

The course material is layered from a primary, or secondary level, to a university or tertiary level, topped off with an introduction to research, some of which is here at Wikiversity. A label indicating the education level may not be present for each resource.

Nuvola apps edu science.svg Educational level: this is a research resource.

The general subject area is astronomy. But, this includes knowledge from physics, chemistry, geography, history, and other subjects.

Crystal Clear Sharemanager.png Resource type: this resource is a course.

In some instances your interaction and responses may be used for research purposes but your username or other identifiers are not included. If the resource itself is also being used for research purposes you will see the icon: Bob, the guinea pig.jpg.

Nuvola apps kmoon.png Subject classification: this is an astronomy resource.


Although a working knowledge of calculus and physics is beneficial, most of the concepts presented only require algebra. Additional learning resources where the student may increase their background knowledge while progressing through the course are provided.

Completion levels[edit]

This course is dynamic, but may also be taken as a semester offering by Wikiversity, see the syllabus for the next formal class period.

Each component resource has a level of completion icon following it based on ≥ 100 kb equals 100 %, or 100 questions is 100 %, the midterm and final are based on 300 questions equals 100 %:

  1. This resource is a stub, which means that pretty well nothing has been done yet. 0-5%. Smiley green alien cry.svg
  2. This resource is just getting off the ground. Please feel welcome to help! 6-15%. Tulliana launch.png
  3. Been started, but most of the work is still to be done - 16-30%. SYawning.svg
  4. About halfway there. You may help to clarify and expand it - 31-45%. Face-blush.svg
  5. Almost complete, but you can help make it more thorough - 46-60%. Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  6. Ready for testing by learners and teachers. Please begin! 61-75%. Sweden road sign A10.svg
  7. This resource is considered to be ready for use - 76-90%. Emblem-extra-cool.svgR
  8. This resource has reached a high level of completion - 91-100%. Emblem-extra-cool.svgC

All of the resources for this class have been completed in time for students taking the course during the January to May 2015, semester. Updates to any resource that do not affect course content may occur at any time. Other updates may occur either with appropriate notices or where the subsequent update is incorporated in any subsequent hourly, midterm or final quiz. Additional content revisions or updates will occur between semester offerings.

A completion icon may not be present for resources at 100 %.

Lecture or article changes that affect content after the beginning of a semester are not included in that term's requirements:

  1. Meteorites has been changed to include more iron meteorites.
  2. Rocky objects described in Meteorites that are not meteorites or the product of meteorite falls or strikes are being removed as they are duplicates of material already in the course. Students are responsible for this material where it occurs outside the meteorites lecture/article.


Each set of three lectures are associated with the learning-by-doing laboratory experiences, mini-lectures plus quizzes for the student to test their learning progress with some additional information, 2-3 lengthier exams often referred to as 'hourlies' (may take an hour to work through at a timed pace), a mid-term exam which is all-encompassing for the first half, and a final exam over the entire course material. The examinations are designed to be taken iteratively as many times as the student desires to achieve a thorough working knowledge of the subject.

Quiz section lectures[edit]

Lectures under development for possible inclusion[edit]


For the course, sixteen laboratories should be completed. Examinations containing information from any laboratory will list it.


Lessons are participatory original research projects. They are part of the history of science and only require some skills in map reading and comparison and contrast. Some familiarity with literature searching such as on Wikipedia, SIMBAD, or the web is beneficial and included in the instructions.

Problem sets[edit]

  1. Energy phantoms Tulliana launch.png: students start from specific situations of energy, determine how to acquire more or less energy, and convert units of energy into other units to change their situation.
  2. Furlongs per fortnight SYawning.svg: students use dimensional analysis to convert from one type of speed or velocity to another in a variety of situations.
  3. Radiation mathematics/Problem set Tulliana launch.png
  4. Radiation astronomy/Problem set Tulliana launch.png
  5. Vectors and coordinates SYawning.svg
  6. Unknown coordinate systems Tulliana launch.png
  7. Unusual units Tulliana launch.png
  8. Telescopes and cameras SYawning.svg
  9. Angular momentum and energy SYawning.svg
  10. Cosmic circuits Tulliana launch.png
  11. Column densities Tulliana launch.png
  12. Spectrographs Tulliana launch.png
  13. Planck's equation SYawning.svg
  14. Synchrotron radiation SYawning.svg
  15. Radiation dosage: students calculate their current situation radiation dosage, determine how long they have to live, and either change their shielding or location to increase their chances of survival.
  16. Star jumping: students convert angular coordinates and locations to units of displacement to layout an interstellar journey around the Galaxy and back to Earth.


The quizzes are rated by number of questions, with 100 questions being a high level of completion, even though some are left at lower numbers of questions.

  1. Astronomical observatories/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  2. Astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  3. Astrophysics/Quiz SYawning.svg
  4. Blue astronomy/Quiz Face-blush.svg
  5. Coronal cloud/Quiz SYawning.svg
  6. Cosmogony/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  7. Cosmic-ray astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  8. Crater astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  9. Cyan astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  10. Electron astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  11. First astronomical source/Quiz SYawning.svg
  12. First astronomical X-ray source/Quiz Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  13. Galaxies/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  14. Gamma-ray astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  15. Green astronomy/Quiz Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  16. Infrared astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  17. Intergalactic medium/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  18. Interplanetary medium/Quiz SYawning.svg
  19. Interstellar medium/Quiz SYawning.svg
  20. Lofting technology/Quiz SYawning.svg
  21. Mathematical astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  22. Meteor astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  23. Meteorites/Quiz SYawning.svg
  24. Muon astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  25. Neutrino astronomy/Quiz Face-blush.svg
  26. Neutron astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  27. Optical astronomy/Quiz Face-blush.svg
  28. Orange astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  29. Planetary science/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  30. Positron astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  31. Proton astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  32. Radiation/Quiz SYawning.svg
  33. Radiation astronomy/Quiz Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  34. Radiation chemistry/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  35. Radiation detectors/Quiz Emblem-extra-cool.svgR
  36. Radiation entities/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  37. Radiation geography/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  38. Radiation history/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  39. Radiation mathematics/Quiz SYawning.svg
  40. Radiation satellites/Quiz SYawning.svg
  41. Radiation telescopes/Quiz SYawning.svg
  42. Radiative dynamo/Quiz SYawning.svg
  43. Radio astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  44. Red astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  45. Solar binary/Quiz SYawning.svg
  46. Source astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  47. Standard candles/Quiz SYawning.svg
  48. Star fission/Quiz SYawning.svg
  49. Star-forming region/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  50. Stellar active region/Quiz Nuvola apps kcontrol.gif
  51. Stellar science/Quiz SYawning.svg
  52. Stellar surface fusion/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  53. Submillimeter astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  54. Sun as an X-ray source/Quiz SYawning.svg
  55. Superluminal astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  56. Theoretical astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  57. Theoretical radiation astronomy/Quiz Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  58. Ultraviolet astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  59. Violet astronomy/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  60. Visual astronomy/Quiz SYawning.svg
  61. X-ray astronomy/Quiz Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  62. X-ray classification of stars/Quiz SYawning.svg
  63. X-ray trigonometric parallax/Quiz Tulliana launch.png
  64. Yellow astronomy/Quiz Face-blush.svg


  1. Hourly - Lectures 1-16 Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  2. Hourly - Lectures 17-32 Emblem-extra-cool.svgC
  3. Hourly - Lectures 33-48 Emblem-extra-cool.svgC

Midterm examination[edit]

Final examination[edit]

Alternate examinations that may be used by your college or university for credit (and a grade) in this course will be available from Wikiversity by courier for closed proctored session testing of proficiency.


While this course may be taken in any order by each student, it may also be taken during a specific calendar period comparable to a university semester such as from January through May or August through December.

Next semester offering:[edit]

First full week in January 2015 through May 2015.

Consult the syllabus for the weekly schedule.


Each full week one lecture on each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Three lectures in the order indicated in the template Principles of radiation astronomy at the page bottom.


One laboratory is to be attempted for each of the sixteen weeks and is due at the beginning of the following week.

Each laboratory is to be started on Tuesday with the lab report due the following Tuesday.


The lessons are once a week beginning on Thursday and the report is due the following Thursday. Contributions to the online lesson are voluntary. Student does so being aware that the information once contributed is as "Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License; additional terms may apply." Note online contributions in lesson report.

Problem sets[edit]

Problem sets are to be started on Thursday with the written answers showing work due the following Thursday.

Quiz sections[edit]

Each Tuesday has a quiz section mini-lecture.

In the Thursday quiz section, the quiz for the mini-lecture is to be taken.

Problem sets and lesson contributions are due at the beginning of the Thursday quiz section.

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]