Currently Offered Courses - Spring 2020
Introduces the student to the basic concepts of modern astronomy. Covers topics including the night sky; the solar system and its origin; the nature and evolution of stars; stellar remnants, including white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; extrasolar planetary systems; galaxies and quasars; dark matter and dark energy; the Big Bang and the fate of the universe; and life in the universe. Credit is not given for ASTR 100 if credit in any of ASTR 121, ASTR 122, ASTR 210, or equivalent has been earned. Students with credit in PHYS 211 are encouraged to take ASTR 210.
Introductory survey of the Solar System; structure and motions of the Earth and Moon; planetary motions; natures and characteristics of the planets and smaller solar system bodies; planetary moons and rings; meteors, meteoroids, and meteorites; properties of the Sun; origin and evolution of the Solar System; discovery of extrasolar planetary systems; architecture of extrasolar planetary systems and comparison to our solar system; habitable extrasolar planets. Emphasis will be placed on problem-solving and scientific methods. Credit is not given for ASTR 121 if credit in either ASTR 100 or ASTR 210 has been earned. Students with credit in PHYS 211 are encouraged to take ASTR 210.
Introduction to celestial objects and phenomena beyond the Solar System, and their governing basic physical principles; galaxies, quasars, and structure of the universe; dark matter and dark energy; the Big Bang and the fate of the universe; the Milky Way; the interstellar medium and the birth of stars; stellar distances, motions, radiation, structure, evolution, and remnants, including neutron stars and black holes. Emphasis will be placed on problem-solving and scientific methods. Credit is not given for ASTR 122 if credit in either ASTR 100 or ASTR 210 has been earned. Students with credit in PHYS 211 are encouraged to take ASTR 210.
Survey of modern astronomy for students with background in physics. Topics include: the solar system; nature and evolution of stars; white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes; galaxies, quasars and dark matter; large scale structure of the universe; the Big Bang; and Inflation. Emphasis will be on the physical principles underlying the astronomical phenomena. Prerequisite: PHYS 211.
An introduction to the use of computers in astrophysics research. Topics covered include a basic introduction to computing hardware concepts, Unix shell commands, programming in Python, data structures, astronomical libraries, modern software engineering concepts and tools, plotting and visualization of data, and fundamental numerical algorithms. Applications and examples drawn from astrophysics are stressed throughout. Prerequisite: PHYS 211; MATH 220; Credit or concurrent registration in ASTR 210.
Scientific discussion of the search for extraterrestrial life. Topics include: cosmic evolution (protons to heavy elements to molecules); terrestrial evolution (chemical, biological, and cultural); high technology searches for extraterrestrial life in the solar system (Mars, Venus, outer planets); and beyond the solar system (Drake equation and current SETI projects).
Individual study at an advanced undergraduate level. May be repeated in separate terms to a maximum of 8 hours. Prerequisite: Consent of advisor and of faculty member who supervises the work.
Development of journal-style writing skills. Papers written in accordance with the Astrophysical Journal Manual of Style on topics approved by the instructor. Emphasis on developing adequate and critical coverage of the topic, brevity compatible with clarity, and effective presentation. Proper referencing, footnotes, and bibliography are covered. 2 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. Prerequisite: Completion of campus Composition I general education requirement. Concurrent enrollment in a designated 400-level astronomy course. Not intended for graduate students.
This course traces, from a physical perspective, the evolution of planetary systems from star formation in molecular clouds to the emergence of habitable worlds. Topics include the properties of HII regions and molecular clouds, gravitational collapse and disk formation, formation of planetesimals and planets, dynamics of the solar system, physics of planetary atmospheres, properties of individual planets and their rings and satellites, detection and characterization of extra-solar planets, and searches for life in the Solar System and beyond. 3 undergraduate hours. 3 graduate hours. Prerequisite: PHYS 212 or consent of instructor. Recommended: ASTR 210, PHYS 213.
Introduction to techniques used in modern optical and radio astronomy with emphasis on the physical and mathematical understanding of the detection of electromagnetic radiation; includes such topics as fundamental properties of radio and optical telescopes and the detectors that are used with telescopes. Lectures and laboratory. 4 undergraduate hours. 4 graduate hours. Prerequisite: MATH 241 or equivalent; PHYS 212; or consent of instructor. Recommended: ASTR 210, PHYS 213, PHYS 214.
Research with thesis, under the direction of a faculty member in astronomy. This course is recommended for all students who plan to do research and graduate study, and it is a prerequisite for graduation with highest distinction in astronomy. In the term preceding their initial enrollment, those interested in taking the course should consult with an academic advisor as well as the potential research advisor. A thesis must be presented for credit to be received. 3 undergraduate hours. No graduate credit. Prerequisite: Two 400-level Astronomy courses and consent of academic advisor and of faculty member who supervises the work. Intended for Astronomy majors of senior standing.
Lectures on topics of current interest in astronomy and astrophysics; for advanced undergraduates and graduates. See Class Schedule for current topics. 1 to 4 undergraduate hours. 1 to 4 graduate hours. Approved for both letter and S/U grading. May be repeated. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.
A survey of the essentials of modern cosmology, providing an overview of the state of the field, of open questions, and of observational and theoretical tools. Topics include: classical cosmology--the Friedmann universe; the early universe--inflation, nucleosynthesis, dark matter; the cosmic microwave background--basic physics, anisotropies, polarization; large scale structure formation--theoretical models and observational tests; dark energy--observational evidence, theoretical ideas. Emphasizes applying physical principles to understand observations, and on using observations to constrain the nature of matter and spacetime on cosmic scales--viewing the universe as a laboratory for fundamental physics. Course work focuses heavily on problem solving. Prerequisite: ASTR 406 or consent of instructor.
Same as PHYS 515. See PHYS 515.
Individual study or non-thesis research. May be repeated. Prerequisite: Consent of adviser and of faculty member who supervises the work.
Approved for both letter and S/U grading. May be repeated. Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.
Approved for S/U grading only. May be repeated.