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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 have an overview of the developments in modern astronomy and the underlying physics.

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

Soft skills

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


See Schedules bachelor Astronomy

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

  • Exercise classes

Assessment method

  • Written exam: 2 parts, 30% part 1 and 70% part 2. You can upgrade the final result with your home work assignments, only if the average is higher than the exam grade. In that case the written exam counts for 85% and the home work assignments for 15%. See Examination schedule bachelor Astronomy

  • The retake exam accounts for 100% of the grade, so homework assignments do not count for this.


Blackboard will be used to communicate with students and to share lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. You must enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. To have access, you need a student ULCN account.

Reading list

Foundations of Astrophysics, Ryden & Peterson, ISBN 9780321595584 (verplicht)


Register via uSis. More information about signing up for classes and exams can be found here. Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Prospective students website for information on how to register. For a la carte and contract registration, please see the dedicated section on the Prospective students website.

Contact information

Lecturer: Prof. dr. Henk Hoekstra
Assistants: Bas Zoutendijk, Silvan Toet, Aniek van Ogtrop, Christiaan Dik, Marieke Visscher, Amalia Villarrubia, Gerben Jolink


Please note that this course is in Dutch.