Credits: 3

Schedule: 07.01.2020 - 07.04.2020

Contact information for the course (applies in this implementation): 


Joni Tammi, Ph.D., 
Aalto University Metsähovi Radio Observatory;

Anne Lähteenmäki, prof., D.Sc. (Tech.)
Aalto University Metsähovi Radio Observatory & Department of Electronics and Nanoengineering;

Course assistant

Irene Bjö

Teaching Period (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

III-IV 2018 - 2019 (spring)
III-IV 2019 - 2020 (spring)

Learning Outcomes (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

After the course the student can describe the physical background behind the basic celestial phenomena and knows how to take the movement of the Sun and the stars into account in engineering, design and architectural projects. The student recognises the astronomical nature of various historical and architecturally and otherwise significant constructions, ranging from the Stonehenge to sundials and modern observatories. She is able to describe the basics of the current scientific worldview and understands how it has been built over the millennia, and has basic knowledge of the interplay between astronomy and arts, as well as the influence on society and culture in general. 

Content (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Basic astronomical concepts; influence of astronomy and space sciences to history, civil engineering, architecture and art, and to science and culture in general. For further studies the course ELEC-E4530 Radio astronomy is recommended.

Details on the course content (applies in this implementation): 

After the course the student should be able to:

  1. Characterise the major mileposts in the development of the modern astronomical world-view, both from the modern and the contemporary perspectives.
  2. Relate celestial events (including the everyday phenomena) to their astronomical and physical origin, and have the basic vocabulary for seeking more information for further studies and applications.
  3. Recognise the astronomical background of various constructions (ranging from the Stonehenge to sundials and modern observatories), including non-physical constructs like the calendar.
  4. Illustrate the influence and interplay of astronomy and the society (culture, religion, arts, etc.) in the past as well as today.
  5. Put into cosmological perspective (a) our place in the universe, (b) the scientific and technological development and future challenges in the fields related to astronomy and space research, (c) and the development and limits of the modern worldview.
  6. Become aware of their strengths and weaknesses in learning, and gain experience in self- and peer assessment, and giving feedback.
The material and assignments are structured for each week separately. In particular, all assignments related to a specific week can be found under that week's page. Weekly pages are made available one at a time, with preliminary work (to be done before the lecture of that week) coming available a week before the lecture, and after-the-lecture work coming available after each lecture. See also "How the course works".

Assessment Methods and Criteria (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Assessment methods: The course consists of lectures, homework, learning diaries, peer assessment, and excursion.

Elaboration of the evaluation criteria and methods, and acquainting students with the evaluation (applies in this implementation): 

See the page "How the course works".

Workload (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Lectures (30 h), assignments (32 h), and the learning diary (20 h).

Details on calculating the workload (applies in this implementation): 

There is no exam. Instead, continuous assessment comes in form of weekly assignments and learning diaries. The three-credit course work consists of

  • twelve lectures, each with
    • preliminary work (reading an article, watching a video, etc.) and
    • assignments (short essay, questionnaire, reading, etc., with deadline at the end of the week),
  • two evaluation sessions during the exam weeks, with no lecture but other activities, and
  • four learning diary submissions (LD), with specific deadlines, and
  • participation in peer and self assessment for three LDs.
  • There is also an excursion outside the lecture time in late February or early March, day to be confirmed, at 18-20, in Helsinki.

Click here for a graph showing the distribution of workload across the different tasks, and the effect each task has on the final grade.

Details on the page "How the course works".

Study Material (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

Online material provided during the course.

Course Homepage (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020):

Grading Scale (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 


Registration for Courses (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 


Further Information (valid 01.08.2018-31.07.2020): 

language class 3: English

Details on the schedule (applies in this implementation): 

The course timeline is shown below. 

Final deadline for all course-related work is Tuesday 7.4.2020 at 23:55. The grades and credits are expected by 30.4.2020.

Course timeline
L  DateTopicThemeLD DL
Introduction and cosmic scales
  Background, basic celestial mechanics28.1.
14.1.Solar system
Celestial mechanics from the ...
28.1.One planet, one sky, one people  Ancient astronomy, from myths to science18.2.
4.2."Sancta terra"
11.2.Towards scientific astronomy
18.2.  Evaluation session (class)   [submit the 2nd LD only after this one]
25.2.The past 100 years  Modern astronomy, year 2000 ± century17.3.
3.3.Astronomy in the 21st century
10.3.Modern astronomical worldview
1017.3.Astronomy and culture  Astronomy and society, art, biology, future, ...7.4.
1124.3.Astrobiology (by Esko Valtaoja)
1231.3.Big open questions
7.4.Evaluation session (online, reserve 2 hours for this during the day)


Registration and further information