Education at the University of Athens Observatory


In all Greek Universities the Physics courses include practical exercises in performing astronomical observations and reducing the acquired data. The goal of a modern course in Observational Astronomy and Astrophysics is to provide the students with the possibility of observing with a telescope and using modern detectors to obtain astronomical data (photometer, CCD camera or spectrograph). In addition, students should learn how to use reduction packages in order to reduce and analyze the astronomical data obtained. Some of the students, who are interested in astronomy, can also do their diploma or master theses on topics related to observational astrophysics. Small University telescopes are the ideal instruments for student's education at a graduate and postgraduate level, since student access to large telescopes is almost impossible, as well as for their preparation to use larger facilities in other observatories.

The University of Athens Observatory has been outfitted with professional equipment allowing students to engage in projects under the supervision of Faculty Members, promoting the development of a professional scientist's skill set. The facility has been used to produce published works in stellar photometry, scientific imaging and understanding of extended objects (galaxies, planetary nebulae, and supernovae), long-term monitoring of AGNs, Blazars and X-ray binaries, monitoring of solar and lunar eclipses, spectroscopic observations determining the motions and chemical composition of stars. This diverse list of astrophysics topics ensures the undergraduate and graduate students are exposed to many problems generating a wide variety of hand-on skills while acquiring their degrees. The flagship telescope, with a 0.4-m mirror, is fully robotic allowing students to engage in remote observing and data acquisition which exposes them to computer controlled systems, a significantly sought after skill today.

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