Information for Students

The Seminar on Astronomy and Astrophysics (astro830) is a four credit point elective seminar in the Master of Astrophysics programme at the Argelander Institute for AstronomyUniversity of Bonn. Students give a talk and answer relevant questions afterward. The seminar topics are based on recently published papers suggested by the supervisors. The possible papers will be introduced at the first Monday meeting. Interested students should then contact the respective advisors and if the advisor chooses the student at the end of that week, both shall inform the organizers about the selection and possible presentation dates. 

Time and Place

Mondays, 14.00---> 15.30 Lecture Hall 0.012,  AIfA.

The  AstroSem introductory session is on the main AstroSem page. Please check the timetable on the  main AstroSem page


Sign up for the university registration system! For participating in AstroSem, you must sign up for the exam of the seminar astro894 / astro830 in the "basis" registration system of the University (deadline: the end of the first week of the semester). Look up registration and de-registration periods for lectures.

introductory session

The AstroSem starts with an introductory session during which supervisors give short presentations of their papers. You should attend this session and during or shortly after, contact a potential supervisor. If you miss the introductory session, you can still sign up. Simply contact the supervisor of your choice and arrange a time. 

After agreeing with their supervisor, students should then email stating their choice of datepaper, and supervisor before the allowed  de-registration period  ends. Note that a maximum of two presenters can be hosted on each single date - first comes, first serves - please check the  AstroSem schedule  and  NRW holidays  before reserving your date with your supervisor! If you could not fix the datepaper, and supervisor, and did not de-register  before the allowed de-registration period, your exam grade will unfortunately be 5.0. If you are ready for the date of the  registration , we will provide you with a final date. If you can not make it at the time of your presentation, your exam will be 5.0.


This seminar is a chance for a student to give a talk on a recent state-of-the-art paper in a subject in modern astrophysics. Students want to learn about oral presentations: the art of communication using your voice and slides, and discussing the content with your peers. This is a skill required by any scientist, eg at conferences, in meetings or when teaching. 


The talk must be 25-28 minutes long, with 10 minutes of questions thereafter (total <40 minutes). Speakers may expect to receive questions  immediately or by email during the week following their talk. It is the responsibility of the students that their computer works. Presentations of slides as PDF files are recommended.
This may be the first time that students encounter state-of-the-art scientific literature in the form of research papers. Research papers are not easy to read, and this is one of the hurdles along the way before giving the talk. Supervisors are there to help! A research paper contains references to other papers. Which of these should be up to be clarified by talking to your supervisor. Following up on some of the cited literature will teach you how to navigate in the scientific literature. You must meet with your supervisors two times and present a draft talk to your advisors by Wednesday the week before your seminar presentation. You will not be admitted for a presentation if you do not adhere to this rule.


An important skill in giving talks is to know your audience. The AstroSem audience mostly consists of the peers of the speaker (i.e. MSc students). Talks should be understood by all attending students. During the semester all students are a member of the audience. However, it is not an opportunity to sleep: there is a question-and-answer session. Students must attend more than 75%  of the seminars on time (a register is taken), give their complete attention, and participate. It is an essential part of training as a professional - scientist - or otherwise - to learn.


All students taking the AstroSem are graded on the usual German scale from 1-5 (where 1 is the best grade), based on their talk. The performance and the understanding of the topic will be weighted roughly 50/50 percent in the grade, with a little regard to how it will be with questions during the seminar course.


Students can provide anonymous feedback at  using the password given in the class.


Talks are usually in the format of computer-based slides (e.g.,  ImpressKeynotePowerpointLaTeX Beamer). If you use the projector you'll make sure it works with your laptop before the talk starts because the laptop will be taken out of your 30 minutes. To be safe, presentations converted to PDF slides are recommended. It is up to you to make sure - in advance - that all your text, plots, images, animations etc. are clearly visible. The exam grade wants to be deducted for poor presentation because it often impedes good science. In particular, credit may also be removed if you simply read from memory sheets or your slides. Do not learn a script, be flexible and knowledgeable and you will be fine. 


As with all Master courses in Astrophysics, talks must be given in English.


The topics  AstroSem page are chosen by the scientific supervisors. You should choose one of them from the list by contacting the supervisor, after the introductory meeting. Topics other than those shown can, in rare cases, be arranged with the supervisors. Note that there are usually two talks per week - first come first serve! Please DO NOT arrange for your talks to be held in the last week of the term. Exams will take priority for you around that time, you do not want to be as well as talk.