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Introduction to Astrophysics


Admission requirements

Mathematics and Physics on Dutch high school VWO level


In this introductory course you will lay the foundation for the Astronomy study programme. You will learn how principles in modern physics are used to understand various processes in the Universe. This course will introduce the most important topics in modern astronomy. After consideration of gravity as the most important force in the Universe, we will study the interaction between radiation and matter and learn how this can be used to investigate the physical properties of objects in the Universe. We will use this new knowledge to study our solar system, planets and the evolution of stars. Subsequently, we will explore the Milky Way as a starting point for extragalactic astronomy. We will conclude the course with the basic principles of cosmology - the study of the Universe as a whole. During exercise classes we will apply the new knowledge in simple calculations.

The course covers the following themes:

  • Orbital movement of astronomical objects as a result of gravity

  • Interaction between light and matter

  • Detection of light / operation mechanism of telescopes

  • Overview of our solar system and study of exoplanets

  • Properties and evolution of stars

  • Properties of the Milky Way and other galaxies

  • Basic principles of cosmology

Course objectives

After this course, you will be able to:

  • Answer basic questions on a variety of astronomical topics

  • Calculate basic properties of astronomical objects (like double star and planet systems) based on simple measurement data


See Schedules bachelor Astronomy

You will find the timetables for all courses and degree programmes of Leiden University in the tool MyTimetable (login). Any teaching activities that you have sucessfully registered for in MyStudyMap will automatically be displayed in MyTimeTable. Any timetables that you add manually, will be saved and automatically displayed the next time you sign in.

MyTimetable allows you to integrate your timetable with your calendar apps such as Outlook, Google Calendar, Apple Calendar and other calendar apps on your smartphone. Any timetable changes will be automatically synced with your calendar. If you wish, you can also receive an email notification of the change. You can turn notifications on in ‘Settings’ (after login).

For more information, watch the video or go the the 'help-page' in MyTimetable. Please note: Joint Degree students Leiden/Delft have to merge their two different timetables into one. This video explains how to do this.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

In this course, you are trained in the following soft skills:

  • Reasoning beyond the field of astronomy, combining various physical principles

  • Estimating orders of magnitude

Assessment method

  • Written exam: The course will end with an exam. If you have passed the exam, the average grade of your homework assignments will be added as a bonus (max 1 grade point). See Examination schedule bachelor Astronomy

Reading list

Foundations of Astrophysics, Ryden & Peterson, ISBN 9781108831956 (Recommended)


From the academic year 2022-2023 on every student has to register for courses with the new enrollment tool MyStudyMap. There are two registration periods per year: registration for the fall semester opens in July and registration for the spring semester opens in December. Please see this page for more information. An exemption is the fall semester for 1st year bachelor students, the student administration will enroll this group.

Please note that it is compulsory to both preregister and confirm your participation for every exam and retake. Not being registered for a course means that you are not allowed to participate in the final exam of the course. Confirming your exam participation is possible until ten days before the exam.
Extensive FAQ's on MyStudymap can be found here.


Docent: Dr. M.P. van Daalen
Assistenten: Aniek Gloudemans, Rik Luisman, Stijn Vleugels, Christiaan Dik , Anouk Zuiderwijk, Esther van Dijk, Richelle van Capelleveen, Puck Rooijakkers, Berend Nieuwhof, Bowen Cameron, Danielle Dam, Daan Letter, Oscar Ociepk, Menno van der Eerden, Revenna Paaij


Please note that this course is in Dutch.
Instructions and course material can be found on Brightspace.