IOAA Exam 2021 - International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA)

IOAA Exam - Registration, Exam Date, Syllabus, Exam Pattern, Result and Other Details

The key aim of the IOAA is to promote an increased interest in astronomy and related subjects, especially among young people, and to improve the development of international contacts between countries in promoting astronomy and astrophysics in schools. More bright high school students are predicted to be interested in studying astronomy at the university level as the next generation of astronomers as a result of events like IOAA.

IOAA Exam Details

IOAA Syllabus

Theoretical Part

Some of the topics in the chart have the symbol (Q) attached to them. It says "qualitative comprehension only". Quantitative reasoning/skills in these areas are not necessary.

For the Candidates, the Following Theoretical Contents Are Suggested:

Basic Astrophysics



Celestial Mechanics

Newton’s Laws Of Gravitation, Kepler’s Laws For Circular And Non-circular Orbits, Roche Limit, Barycentre, 2-body Problem, Lagrange Points

Electromagnetic Theory & Quantum Physics

Electromagnetic Spectrum, Radiation Laws, Blackbody Radiation


Thermodynamic Equilibrium, Ideal Gas, Energy Transfer

Spectroscopy and Atomic Physics

Absorption, Emission, Scattering, Spectra Of Celestial Objects, Doppler Effect, Line Formations, Continuum Spectra, Splitting And Broadening Of Spectral Lines, Polarisation

Nuclear Physics

Basic Concepts Including Structure Of An Atom, Mass Defect And Binding Energy Radioactivity, Neutrinos (Q).

Coordinates and Times



Celestial Sphere

Spherical Trigonometry, Celestial Coordinates And Their Applications, Equinox And Solstice, Circumpolar Stars, Constellations And Zodiac.

Concept of Time

Solar Time, Sidereal Time, Julian Date, Heliocentric Julian Date, Time Zone, Universal Time, Local Mean Time, Different Definitions Of “Year”, Equation Of Time.

Solar System



The Sun

Solar Structure, Solar Surface Activities, Solar Rotation, Solar Radiation And Solar Constant, Solar Neutrinos (Q), Sun-earth

Relations, Role Of Magnetic Fields (Q), Solar Wind And Radiation Pressure, Heliosphere (Q), Magnetosphere (Q).

The Solar System

Earth-moon System, Precession, Nutation, Libration, Formation And Evolution Of The Solar System (Q), Structure And Components Of The Solar System (Q), Structure And Orbits Of The Solar System Objects, Sidereal And Synodic Periods, Retrograde Motion, Outer Reaches Of The Solar System (Q).

Space Exploration

Satellite Trajectories And Transfers, Human Exploration Of The Solar System (Q), Planetary Missions (Q), Sling-shot Effect Of Gravity, Space-based Instruments (Q).


Tides, Seasons, Eclipses, Aurorae (Q), Meteor Showers.




Stellar Properties

Methods Of Distance Determination, Radiation, Luminosity And Magnitude, Color Indices And Temperature, Determination Of

Radii And Masses, Stellar Motion, Irregular And Regular Stellar Variabilities – Broad Classification & Properties, Cepheids &

Period-luminosity Relation, Physics Of Pulsation (Q).

Stellar Interior and Atmospheres

Stellar Equilibrium, Stellar Nucleosynthesis, Energy Transportation (Q), Boundary Conditions, Stellar Atmospheres And Atmospheric Spectra.

Stellar Evolution

Stellar Formation, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, Pre-main Sequence, Main Sequence, Post-main Sequence Stars, Supernovae, Planetary Nebulae, End States Of Stars.

Stellar Systems



Binary Star Systems

Different Types Of Binary Stars, Mass Determination In Binary Star Systems, Light And Radial Velocity Curves Of Eclipsing Binary Systems, Doppler Shifts In Binary Systems, Interacting Binaries, Peculiar Binary Systems.


Techniques Used To Detect Exoplanets.

Star Clusters

Classification And Structure, Mass, Age, Luminosity And Distance Determination.

Milky Way Galaxy

Structure And Composition, Rotation, Satellites Of Milky Way (Q).

Interstellar Medium

Gas (Q), Dust (Q), Hii Regions, 21cm Radiation, Nebulae (Q), Interstellar Absorption, Dispersion Measure, Faraday Rotation.


Classifications Based On Structure, Composition And Activity, Mass, Luminosity And Distance Determination, Rotation Curves.

Accretion Processes

Basic Concepts (Spherical And Disc Accretion) (Q), Eddington Luminosity.




Elementary Cosmology

Expanding Universe And Hubble’s Law, Cluster Of Galaxies, Dark Matter, Dark Energy (Q), Gravitational Lensing, Cosmic

Microwave Background Radiation, Big Bang (Q), Alternative Models Of The Universe (Q), Large Scale Structure (Q), Distance Measurement At A Cosmological Scale, Cosmological Redshift.

Instrumentation and Space Technologies



Multi-wavelength Astronomy

Observations In Radio, Microwave, Infrared, Visible, Ultraviolet, X-ray, And Gamma-ray Wavelength Bands, Earth’s Atmospheric Effects.


Telescopes And Detectors (E.G. Charge-coupled Devices, Photometers, Spectrographs), Magnification, Focal Length, Focal Ratio, Resolving And Light-gathering Powers Of Telescopes, Geometric Model Of Two Element Interferometer, Aperture Synthesis, Adaptive Optics, Photometry, Astrometry.

Practical Part

This section is divided into two parts: observations and data analysis. The theoretical portion of the Syllabus serves as the foundation for all of the practical problems.

This segment focuses on the contestant’s experiences in the following-

  1. Naked-eye observations,

  2. Usage of sky maps and catalogues,

  3. Application of coordinate systems in the sky, magnitude estimation, estimation of angular separation.

  4. Usage of basic astronomical instruments-telescopes and various detectors for observations but enough instructions must be provided to the contestants. 

  5. Observational objects may be from real sources in the sky or imitated sources in the laboratory. Computer simulations may be used in the problems but sufficient instructions must be provided to the contestants.

The calculations and analysis of the astronomical data given in the problems are the subjects of the data analysis section. The following are additional requirements:

  1. Proper identification of error sources, calculation of errors, and estimation of their influence on the final results.

  2. Proper use of graph papers with different scales, e.g., polar and logarithmic papers. Transformation of the data to get a linear plot and finding the “Best Fit” line approximately.

  3. Basic statistical analysis of the observational data.

  4. Knowledge of the most common experimental techniques for measuring physical quantities mentioned in Part A.

IOAA Exam Pattern

Theoretical Exam

This Paper Consists of Both Long and Short Questions.


No. of Questions






2 or 3

Duration of the exam- 5 hours

Practical Exam

The practical exam may be divided into many components but the allotted time remains the same, that is, 5 hours.

The total marks consist of 50% of theory and 50% of practical marks.


The IOAA exam is the fifth and final level. To take this test, candidates must pass the four previous stages: Stage 1 (NSEA), Stage 2 (INAO), Stage 3 (Pre-Departure Camp), Stage 4 (Orientation Cum Selection Camp), and Stage 5 (International Olympiad).


The IOAA results will be published on the official website after the Olympiad. Candidates can review their IOAA test results on the IOAA's official website. The IOAA 2021 Results include the candidate's performance status, rank, and a few other important information.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How Do I Participate in the IOAA?

Ans. The IOAA is a globally recognised assessment with strict participation guidelines. Students are unable to compete in the Olympiad directly. Students must be citizens of a country with a National Olympic Committee in order to compete. The committee must be recognised by the International Olympic Committee. Each country is required to send a team of students to compete. The team must eventually consent to abide by the IOAA's Statutes. The IOAA board of directors has the final say on a variety of issues affecting the IOAA. In the event of a disagreement, international legal and diplomatic arrangements must also be considered.

2. How Do I Prepare For IOAA?

Ans. The innate tendency toward astronomy and the cosmos is one of the important aspects judged in the IOAA. Students must have a clear understanding of the fundamental principles as well as a high level of expertise in astronomy topics. Students should read well-known astronomy books to gain a thorough understanding of different topics. Students must also keep up with the most recent advancements in the field of astronomy. Examine previous question papers to get a sense of the trend. The answers to the solved questions can be found on the internet. The IOAA's official website also has all of the necessary details for IOAA planning.

Share this with your friends