Undergraduate Course • Fall 2016


This is the first part of an overview of astrophysics, with an emphasis on the way in which physics is applied to astronomy. We will start with an introduction to astronomy, and learn how astronomers observe the night sky and measure the radiation, velocities, and distances of stars. We will interpret the observations of stars in terms of physical properties, and discuss how the telescopes that we use to obtain these observations work. We will also cover mechanics and celestial motions, and we will learn how to derive masses and other properties of stars and (extra-solar) planets. Next we move on to stellar atmospheres and interiors, and learn about stellar energy sources, how this energy is transported out of the star, and the physical processes behind the formation of stellar spectra. We will end with the formation and evolution of stars, and stellar remnants. The physics in this course includes mechanics and gravitation; kinetic theory of gases; properties of radiation and radiative energy transport; optics and quantum mechanics of photons, atoms, and electrons.