AstroTech: The Science and Technology behind Astronomical Discovery

How astronomy really works - an overview of the technology that astronomers use to collect and measure light from the universe, and how it is used in practice to make scientific discoveries.

About The Course

"How do they know that?"

Modern astronomy has made some astonishing discoveries - how stars burn and how black holes form; galaxies from the edge of the universe and killer rocks right next door; where the elements come from and how the expanding universe is accelerating. But how do we know all that? The truth is that astronomy would be impossible without technology, and every advance in astronomy is really an advance in technology. But the technology by itself is not enough. We have to apply it critically with a knowledge of physics to unlock the secrets of the Universe.

Each week we will cover a different aspect of Astronomical technology, matching each piece of technology to a highlight science result.   We will explain how the technology works, how it has allowed us to collect astronomical data, and, with some basic physics, how we the interpret the data to make scientific discoveries.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Will I get a certificate after completing this class?

    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • Do I earn University of Edinburgh credits upon completion of this class?

    No. The Statement of Accomplishment is not part of a formal qualification from the University. However, it may be useful to demonstrate prior learning and interest in your subject to a higher education institution or potential employer.

  • What resources will I need for this class?

    No resources needed.

  • What are the learning outcomes of this course and why should I take it?

    You will learn how we can collect and interpret huge data sets to make scientific discoveries and better understand the universe.



Course image: European Southern Observatory (ESO) - ALMA

Recommended Background

No background required. Some knowledge of physics will help you to get more out of the course, but its not essential.