Glossary term: Observation

Description: Astronomical observations include every documentation of electromagnetic radiation, particles or gravitational waves reaching us from an astronomical object. The raw form of that documentation – such as a raw image we retrieve from a camera – is known as (observational) data. That data contains information about the object, but still depends on the specifics of the instrument, for instance if one part of the camera is more sensitive than another. It also depends on contaminants; for example, when collecting light from an astronomical object, we will typically also collect foreground light scattered in Earth's atmosphere. Removing instrument-specific and contaminant portions as completely as possible is called data reduction. Typical end products of observations are images or spectra.

Related Terms:

See this term in other languages

Term and definition status: This term and its definition is still awaiting approval

The OAE Multilingual Glossary is a project of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Education (OAE) in collaboration with the IAU Office of Astronomy Outreach (OAO). The terms and definitions were chosen, written and reviewed by a collective effort from the OAE, the OAE Centers and Nodes, the OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) and other volunteers. You can find a full list of credits here. All glossary terms and their definitions are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-4.0 license and should be credited to "IAU OAE".