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Astronomy, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #101 (ARWU) Bern, Switzerland
The AIUB has its research focus on fundamental astronomy, most likely the oldest branch of astronomy. Modern observations are performed at the Zimmerwald observatory. The observation methods include astrometric positions of natural and artificial celestial bodies, distances and distance differences of artificial Earth satellites.
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Fields of Research
  • Satellite Geodesy:First computer programs for the analysis of GPS (Global Positioning System) tracking data were developed at the AIUB in the 1980's when GPS started to become interesting for geodetic applications. The Satellite Geodesy group of the AIUB is developing and maintaining a large software package - the Bernese GNSS Software - for the analysis of GNSS satellite signals, used for a broad range of scientific applications and Projects.
    The evaluation of new processing strategies and new models, the analysis of station coordinate time series, and the validation of GNSS orbits using independent SLR observations complement the routine work performed at the CODE Analysis Center.
  • Optical Astronomy:The Optical Astronomy group of the AIUB today has a world-leading position in the domain of CCD-Astrometry applied to fast moving objects and has its research focus on space debris and space surveillance. It has been deeply involved in various ESA feasibility studies with main tasks in optical observations, orbit determination, cataloguing, observation strategies, sensor architecture, and image processing.
  • History of Astronomy:Our research in history of astronomy is centered on the following topics:
    • The interaction between theoretical astronomy, physics, and applied mathematics during the development of theories in early modern science
    • History of cosmology from the 17th to the 20th century
    • History of positional astronomy, in particular celestial mechanics (including Earth rotation) and astrometry, from the 17th to the 19th century
    • Exegesis and hermeneutics of primary sources, as manuscripts and notebooks, written by pivotal individuals (like, e.g., Leonhard Euler) coining and forming scientific ideas and concepts relevant for astronomy, particularly of the 18th and 19th century
    • Emergence and development of astronomical research in Switzerland and, in particular, in Bern
    • Documenting and preserving the history of science, in particular the history of astronomy
  • Zimmerwald Observatory:The Zimmerwald observatory was extensively used for astrometric purposes. More than 100 asteroids, 49 supernovae, and a handful of comets (among them the comet Wild-II, the target of the NASA Stardust mission) were discovered in Zimmerwald and named by the discoverer. The 1-m telescope of the Zimmerwald observatory, inaugurated in 1997, was also designed as an astrometric telescope using the CCD-technique (Charge-Coupled Device). AIUB's Optical Astronomy group made extensive use of this facility to develop, as a broad-band facility, an astrometric observation technique, in particular for observing fast moving objects like artificial Earth satellites, space debris, Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs), etc.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Deadline and start date

    Application deadline: October 15 (for spring Semester), March 31 (for fall Semester)

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
    • Duration description

      Graduate schools, doctoral programmes and doctoral studies last 3-5 years.

  • Languages
    • English
    • German
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Please contact the respective study counsellor for more information about the traditional individual doctorate:

English Language Requirements

This programme may require students to demonstrate proficiency in English.

General Requirements

Application and admission

General information on admission at doctoral level:

For questions regarding application and admission, please contact the Admissions Office (ZIB).

Tuition Fee

  • International

    184 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 184 EUR per year and a duration of 36 months.
  • EU/EEA

    184 EUR/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 184 EUR per year and a duration of 36 months.
We've labeled the tuition fee that applies to you because we think you are from and prefer over other currencies.

The fee for doctoral students is 200 CHF per semester. Additionally, a registration fee of 100 CHF is charged for the first or re-admission.

Living costs for Bern

  • 1655 - 2130 CHF/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


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