Courses in Astronomy (DIVISION 326)

Introductory Courses and Courses for Non-Concentrators

Astronomy 101/111 discusses our explorations of the solar system. Astronomy 102/112 deals with stars and the rest of the Universe beyond the solar system. Students in Astronomy 101 and 102 attend a weekly discussion section. Students in Astronomy 111 and 112 actively participate in a laboratory which meets in the evening each week. None of these courses is a prerequisite for any of the others. High school mathematics through plane geometry is useful. All students in each course will have opportunities for a planetarium visit and for evening observations with telescopes.

101. Introductory Astronomy: The Solar System. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 111, 130, 160, or 221. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).

Astronomy 101 students attend the same lectures as Astronomy 111 students (see course description below). (Cowley)

102. Introductory Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 112, 130, 160, or 222. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).

Astronomy 102 students attend the same lectures as Astronomy 112 students (see course description below). Instead of laboratory sections, Astronomy 102 incorporates weekly one-hour discussions and associated exercises, which is considered along with examinations and quizzes for course grades. Cost:2 WL:4 (Section 001:Bernstein; Section 007:MacAlpine)

111. Introductory Astronomy: The Solar System. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 101, 130, 160, or 221. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).

This course presents an introduction to the field of astronomy and astrophysics with an emphasis on the discoveries from space exploration. The first third of the course deals with understanding the history of astronomy, orbits, gravitation, optics, and the properties of light and matter. The rest of the course explores the properties, origin and evolution of the major planets, asteroids, comets, the Sun and other components of the Solar System with particular emphasis on comparative aspects with respect to the Earth. The origin and formation of the Solar System and the origin of life will also be discussed. This course is intended for non-science concentrators with a basic high school math and science background. Astronomy 111 has a two-hour laboratory section every week. Astronomy 101 has a one-hour discussion section. Course requirements include assigned reading, section meetings, homework, observations, quizzes, midterm, and a final examination. Laboratory sections include observations with telescopes. Text: Kaufmann, Universe, 4th edition. Cost:2 WL:4 (Cowley)

112. Introductory Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 102, 130, 160, or 222. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).

This course is intended primarily for non-science concentrators, who wish to understand the phenomena and properties of the universe beyond our solar system. There are no astronomy prerequisites, and a basic high school math background (e.g., not calculus) will suffice. Students examine the widest possible range of interrelated natural phenomena, from sub-atomic particles to the Universe as a whole. Lectures inventory the different types of stars and examine how red giants, white dwarfs, black holes, supernovae, and people all fit together in one grand, remarkable scheme. The larger picture includes our Milky Way galaxy, less hospitable exploding galaxies, and enigmatic quasars. The present state of knowledge or speculation regarding the origin and ultimate fate of our universe will also receive special attention. It all came from somewhere, but where...and why? Course grades will be derived from scheduled quizzes or exams, and laboratory exercises. Laboratory sections, which meet for two evening hours each week, will include planetarium demonstrations and observations with telescopes (weather permitting). Cost:2 WL:4 (Section 001:Bernstein; Section 006:MacAlpine)

125. Observational Astronomy. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in Astro. 120. (4). (NS).

This course will teach how astronomical discoveries are made, by addressing hypothetical 'what if' questions in astronomy. These case studies will provide insights into fundamental physical laws that rule the universe, as well as demonstrating how fine-tuned we are with the special environment we live in. Students will gain experience with the optical telescopes on campus as well as with computers, which are necessary for some of the labs. Through hands-on observing experience, students will understand how astronomical research is conducted and will discuss the merits and pitfalls of such observations. Some of the topics to be featured include measuring the distance to the Moon, measuring the size and expansion rate of the Universe, the moons of Jupiter, the evolution of stars, the creation of the elements, and the cosmic background radiation of the Big Bang. The course structure involves writing assignments, laboratory and observing exercises, introductory lectures by the instructor, and discussions led by individual students; but there are no exams or formal problem sets. One evening observing laboratory per week. Some knowledge of basic physics is helpful but not necessary. Cost:2 WL:4 (Mateo)

160. Introduction to Astrophysics. Math. 115, and prior or concurrent enrollment in Phys. 140; or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 102, 112, 130, 221, or 222. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).

Some of the most exciting phenomena and concepts in astronomy and astrophysics are explored in this survey course. One major theme is the structure and evolution of stars from their birth in giant molecular clouds through their death as white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. Another important theme is galaxies, with discussions about the missing or dark matter in galaxies, galaxy-galaxy interactions, and the large-scale distribution of galaxies in the Universe. We conclude with an examination of the Big Bang, the Inflationary Universe, and the Cosmic Background radiation. This course is directed toward students with an interest in science and mathematics. There are problem sets and a weekly two-hour laboratory using telescopes. Cost:2 WL:3 (Mateo)

361. Astronomical Techniques. Astro. 160 or permission of instructor. (4). (Excl). (BS).

This course is intended primarily for students concentrating in astronomy, but other science and engineering students may elect it. It is an introduction to various techniques for obtaining and analyzing observational data. The areas covered are stellar trigonometric distance (parallax), imaging and photometry with electronic detectors, radiometric techniques, and interferometry. In addition, there will be a series of lectures on error theory and least squares, to provide expertise needed in the analysis of observational data. Students will use optical telescopes and instrumentation and the Radio Observatory near Dexter to make observations. Three lectures and one two-hour laboratory period each week. Course work will also include homework exercises and reading in original sources but there are no examinations. (Aller, Sears, and Seitzer)

404. Galaxies and the Universe. Math. 216, and prior or concurrent enrollment in Phys. 242; or permission of instructor. No credit granted to those who have completed Astro. 422. (3). (Excl). (BS).

This class focuses on the content of the universe on size scales larger than individual stars. We will study the mechanics of stellar orbits and the structure of galaxies, the evidence for dark matter in our galaxy and others, the interstellar gas in galaxies, the morphology of galaxies, and evolution of stellar populations. On scales larger than individual galaxies, we will study the structure and dynamics of clusters of galaxies and larger scale structure. On even larger scales, we will look at the evolution of the universe as a whole, the cosmic microwave background radiation and inferences from its smoothness, and the formation of galaxies and structure on larger scales. This class is designed for science concentrators interested in a fairly serious introduction to the subject, and for upper level astronomy concentrators. Cost:2 WL:3 (Richstone)

406. Computational Astrophysics. Math. 216, prior or concurrent enrollment in Phys. 240, and some knowledge of programming; or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl). (BS).

This course provides an introduction to numerical techniques used in astrophysics, both for analyses of observational data and for constructing theoretical models of astrophysical systems and processes. Topics: programming and coding; error theory; interpolation and curve fitting; analysis and display of data sets; solutions of differential equations; Fourier methods; matrix methods; statistical techniques. Some prior acquaintance with astronomy will be helpful, although astrophysical concepts will be explained in as much detail as necessary. Some prior knowledge of computer programming will be helpful, although the course will begin with elementary coding exercises and illustrations of computer limitations and pitfalls. The computer language used is FORTRAN; users of BASIC or PASCAL will have little difficulty in translation. The course work will consist primarily of coding, running, and displaying various astrophysical algorithms, from simple to complex. One or more term projects will be undertaken. Students will also use, and perhaps adapt and improve, various nationally used standard programs. The recommended text is Numerical Recipes in FORTRAN, Second Edition, by Press et al. (Cambridge, 1992). Not all of this classic will be covered, but it will be useful for anyone involved in scientific computing. Cost:2 WL:3 (Sears)

520. Cosmochemistry. Astro. 401, 402, and 404, or permission of instructor. (3). (Excl). (BS).

This is a general survey of the chemical evolution of the universe and its contents from terrestrial materials to the contents of the most distant galaxies. The introductory sections cover traditional differentiation, Goldschmidt's laws of ionic substitution and the Bowen Principle. There is a resume of thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, since these disciplines provide the basis for an understanding of many of the regularities of cosmic chemistry. Radioactive dating is discussed within the context of the chemical history of moon rocks and meteorites. Special emphasis is placed on the derivation of a standard (cosmic) abundance distribution for the solar nebula, and the evidence for deviations from it. Sufficient nuclear structure is introduced to allow an understanding of the synthesis of the chemical elements through stellar and cosmological processes. Students run programs that solve the CNO reaction networks illustrating equilibrium abundance ratios and the rate of approach to them. Atomic and molecular structure are reviewed and applied to the chemical analysis of stars and diffuse matter (dust and gas) in our own and external galaxies. Analytical models of the overall chemical evolution of galaxies are compared to observations and more elaborate numerical predictions. Text: Cowley, An Introduction to Cosmochemistry, 1995, Cambridge University Press. Cost:1 WL:3 (Cowley)


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