This is a topics course centered on professional visitors hosted by the weekly Astronomy Department Colloquium Series. Each week, a different invited speaker visits the class and gives a simplified, 15-minute talk about his/her research. The students will have time for questions and discussion with the visitor. There will be both preparatory and follow-up discussion before and after the visit so that students gain a complete understanding of the context, motivation, methodology, and scientific discoveries associated with each project presented. Theoretical uncertainties and experimental limits will also be discussed. In summary, students in this course will essentially participate in a real colloquium experience, but at a slower pace compared to the faculty experience. The Astronomy Department Colloquium series is traditionally on Thursday afternoon, and the classes must be scheduled to coincide on the same day as the Colloquium Series.
Weekly written homework, which may, for example, take the form of briefly summarizing speaker's project: 1) context and hypothesis, 2) experimental or theoretical method, 3) scientific result. Students also will be required to choose a follow-up to one of the semester's colloquium topics and write a 6-8 page term paper about the science in greater detail than discussed in class. Class participation will be evaluated by contributions to class discussions. In addition, each student is required to submit at least one question resulting from the speaker's presentation. These questions, together with the homework, may form the basis for follow-up class discussion. The course grade will be based on: 50% weekly homework, 40% term paper, and 10% class participation.
Any students who have taken a 100-level Astronomy course and who are interested in learning more about cutting-edge astronomical research.
Two 1.5-hr class sessions, with the visitor attending about half of the session on the second day. The first week or two will be devoted to background review of general astronomy and astrophysics.