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, or 160. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).

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

102. Introductory Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 112, 130, or 160. (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, or 160. (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. Cost:2 WL:4 (Sears)

112. Introductory Astronomy: Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 102, 130, or 160. (4). (NS). (BS). (QR/2).
Section 001.
Three lectures and a two-hour evening laboratory section each week. Lectures deal with such topics as the properties and evolution of stars; interstellar luminous nebulae; recent discoveries involving galaxies, quasars, and black holes in space; and the present state of our knowledge regarding the origin and ultimate fate of the universe and possibilities of finding and communicating with life outside the solar system. The laboratories and discussions feature planetarium demonstrations, observation with telescopes, and student-inspired dialogue. Familiarity with logarithms and basic geometry is recommended. Cost:2 WL:4 (Bernstein)

Section 007. 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 (MacAlpine)

122. The Origin of the Elements and the History of Matter. (3). (NS).

Seminar focusing on the creation of the elements, which were made in the Big Bang and in the center of stars. Students learn how clues to the history of matter were found in abundance patterns in a variety of astronomical objects. Cost:2 WL:4 (Cowley)

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, from what naked eye observations tell us about the solar system and the universe (example: why is the night sky dark?) through what modern telescopes on the ground and in space tell us. We will use all available optical telescopes on campus to explore the different types of telescopes and how they are used to explore the universe. Through this, students will learn how modern astronomical research is conducted. The course will involve lectures, assigned readings, written assignments, and one evening laboratory session per week. Cost:2 WL:4 (Seitzer)

160. Introduction to Astrophysics. Math. 115, and prior or concurrent enrollment in Phys. 140. No credit granted to those who have completed or are enrolled in 102, 112, or 130. (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. (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)

401. Solar System Astrophysics. Phys. 140 and Math. 116, and prior or concurrent enrollment in Phys. 240. (3). (Excl). (BS).

30% of the course will be based on independent reading of William K. Hartman's Moons and Planets (second edition). The remaining 70% of the course will be based on material presented in the lectures. This is divided into three parts. Part I deals with the mechanics of the solar system, and covers topics such as the two-body problem, N-body relations, the virial theorem, potential about an oblate spheroid, equations of rigid-body motion, etc. Part II treats geochemistry and cosmochemistry with special reference to the solar system. Included topics are fundamental principles of thermodynamics and chemical reactions, meteorites, geochemical classification of the elements, models of the solar nebula, condensation sequences from the solar nebula and the composition of planets. Part III deals with planetary structure, and emphasizes comparative planetology of the moon and terrestrial planets. Weekly problem sets are assigned, some of which require running programs on the Astronomy LAN or PCs. While students are not required to write their own programs, a knowledge of one or more high level languages (Fortran, C, Pascal) will be useful. The level of difficulty will be similar to that of junior and senior courses in physics and chemistry. Cost:2 WL:3 (Cowley)

404. Galaxies and the Universe. Math. 216, and prior or concurrent enrollment in Phys. 242. (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 (Mateo)


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