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Optics and Instruments


Admission requirements

Basic knowledge of optics (geometrical optics, physical optics, interference, diffraction), Fourier transforms, astronomical observing techniques, computer programming.


This course will teach MSc students in physics and astronomy the foundations of modern optical instruments including advanced concepts in geometrical and physical optics, optical design, and instrumentation. The course is the cornerstone of the MSc track on Astronomy and Instrumentation. Students who have not followed the BSc course on Astronomical Observing Technique are advised to follow a crash-course during the first week.

The following topics will be covered in lectures and exercises:

  • Foundations of Optics

  • Interference, Diffraction and Fourier Optics

  • Geometrical Optics

  • Polarization

  • Thin Films and Coatings

  • Optical Design

  • Telescopes

  • Imagers

  • Classical Spectrographs

  • Advanced Spectrographs

  • Interferometers

  • Polarimeters

Course objectives

Students will understand the principles of modern optical instruments in astronomy and experimental physics, be able to explain the operations of state-of-the-art optical instruments and be able to design simple instruments.


See MSc schedules

Mode of instruction

Lectures, computer practicum, presentations, homework.

Assessment method

60% exam, 20% presentation, 20% homework
First exam is a 3-hour written test.
Retake exams will be oral.


Blackboard will be used to communicate with students. To have access, you need an ULCN account. More information:

Reading list

Recommended but not mandatory:

  • Optics, by Eugene Hecht, published by Addison Wesley

  • Observational Astrophysics, by Pierre Lena, published by Springer

  • Astrophysical Techniques, by C.R.Kitchin, published by Institute of Physics Publishing


Via uSis
More information about signing up for your classes at the Faculty of Science can be found here
Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

Lecturers: Prof.dr. C.U. Keller / Dr. M.A. Kenworthy / Dr. M.P. van Exter
Assistant: Andrew Ridden Harper, MSc
Course website: Optics and Instruments.


Please note that this is a mandatory course for all MSc students who follow the Astronomy and Instrumentation specialisation.