IOAA Exam Syllabus

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IOAA 2020 Syllabus

The International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics is one of the coveted educational events organized for recognizing new talents in the field of astronomy and astrophysics from all corners of the world. The enthusiastic high school students eager for participation must have a clear idea about the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad syllabus.

An extra edge would be to prepare along with the IOAA syllabus lines and follow the exam pattern. The syllabus gives a complete idea about from where the questions would be asked for the examination. The syllabus for IAAO is created, including various aspects of astrophysics and astronomy.

IOAA 2020 Syllabus As Designed By The Organizing Committee

The International Olympiads are known for their high standards and extensive syllabus for each subject that is tested. The same goes for the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad. Here is a general idea about the syllabus and the detailed content to help you get a clear insight. 

The IOAA 2020 Syllabus – A General Outline

  1. Students must possess a clear idea about basic astronomical concepts. This is required for both the theoretical and practical problems. 

  2. The problems for physics and mathematics are of high school level.

  3. Students are allowed to use astronomical software for solving observational problems.

  4. Questions sometimes may include concepts not included in the syllabus; however, sufficient information will be provided to the students in such cases. 

  5. The problems given to the students should not include the use of too sophisticated equipment. They must be related to the usage of standard kits. 

  6. SI units are used for all the problems. 

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Details of the IOAA Syllabus 

You must know that the IOAA 2020 syllabus is divided into several parts. Each part of the syllabus must be studied carefully as questions may be asked directly from a topic or require knowledge related to several topics. 

Theory Topics

Practical Examination

Basic Astrophysics 

Naked Eye Observation

Coordinates and Times 

Usage of sky maps and catalogues 

Solar System

Application of coordinate system for the sky


Magnitude Estimation

Stellar Systems

Use of necessary astronomical instruments


Estimations of angular separation

Instrumental and Space Technologies

Observation from imitated sources from laboratory

Each of these topics included in the Syllabus is further elaborated for a more in-depth understanding of the subject topics. 

  • Basic Astrophysics


  1. Celestial Mechanics

  2. Electromagnetic Theory and Quantum Physics

  3. Thermodynamics

  4. Spectroscopy and Atomic Physics

  5. Nuclear Physics

  • Coordinates and Time 


  1. Celestial Sphere

  2. Concepts of Time

  • Solar System 


  1. The Sun

  2. The Solar System

  3. Space Exploration

  4. Phenomena

  • Stars 


  1. Stellar Properties

  2. Stellar Interior and Atmospheres

  3. Stellar Evolution

  • Stellar Systems


  1. Binary Star Systems 

  2. Exoplanets

  3. Star Clusters 

  4. Milky Way Galaxy 

  5. Interstellar Medium 

  6. Galaxies

  7. Accretion Process

  • Cosmology


  1. Elementary Cosmology

  • Instrumental and Space Technologies 


  1. Multi-wavelength Astronomy

  2. Instrumentation

For the Practical Part 

The syllabus is on par with the theory part. Two primary sections are covered for the practical section of the exam. These are Observation and Data Analysis. There are some of the additions to be mentioned in the IOAA Syllabus. 

  • The students must be able to identify error sources, calculate errors and estimate their influence as observed in the final result. 

  • Proper use of graphic papers with various scales. Students must be able to use polar and logarithm papers as provided by the organizers.

  • Basic statistical analysis of the collected data and drawing reasonable inferences. 

  • The students must have adequate knowledge of the experimental technique used for measuring physical quantities. 

Students must structure their preparation in strict adherence to the syllabus for a better understanding of the topics. 

Quick Tips to Remember

Each of the topics mentioned in the list above consists of several subtopics. The IOAA 2020 syllabus is made with strict adherence to international high school standards. However, the questions are structured in a manner that helps students express their thoughts and ideas about the subject and the topic. 

The subtopics for each of the topics are explained in detail by the IOAA organizing committee. They can slightly twist in the questions, but they will always be within the provided syllabus. In-depth knowledge about each of these topics is required for acquiring good scores in both the theory and the practical section. 

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is the Age Limit for Candidates Appearing in IOAA?

The IOAA is very strict regarding the age group of students participating in the event. The stipulated rule is that students, not more than twenty years of age, may participate in the event.  The students' age must be less than twenty years as of July 1st of the year of competition. The student may be in the last year of high school or finished high school in that particular year. 

Two adults may also participate in the event. They are called team leaders. Teams of 4-5 students can have two team leaders, whereas a group of 2 or 3 can have one team leader. In addition to this, there is a provision that if any team with one team leader and one student, it may not be considered a group but may still participate in the competition. 

The motto of the organizing committee is to organize the event in a friendly manner. This is why language portability is one of the agendas of IOAA and the promotion of astrophysics and astronomy.

2. What is the Working Language of the IOAA?

The official working language of the IOAA is English. The Question papers and all official communications are made in English. However, the organizing committee may also prepare the question papers in another language if they feel the need for the same. The event is organized by the Ministry of Education of the host country. The host country must provide for translation services if requested by the participants. The members of IOAA that participate may answer in English.