• A description of modern astronomy with emphasis on the structure and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the Universe. Additional topics optionally discussed include quasars, pulsars, black holes, and extraterrestrial communication, etc. Individual instructor’s synopses available from the department. 


  • The Planets

    Astro C12 | EPS C12, L&S C70T

    CCN: 05936

    A tour of the mysteries and inner workings of our solar system. What are planets made of? Why do they orbit the sun the way they do? How do planets form, and what are they made of? Why do some bizarre moons have oceans, volcanoes, and ice floes? What makes the Earth hospitable for life? Is the Earth a common…


  • Many of the most important scientific breakthroughs in history have dramatically reshaped humankind’s understanding of our place in the universe.  Examples include the Copernican revolution, evolution by natural selection, the Big Bang theory of the origin and evolution of the universe, and the molecular and genetic basis of evolution.  In addition to their intrinsic scientific importance, these ideas also have…


  • Sophomore seminars are small interactive courses offered by faculty members in departments all across the campus. Sophomore seminars offer opportunity for close, regular intellectual contact between faculty members and students in the crucial second year. The topics vary from department to department and semester to semester. Enrollment limited to 15 sophomores. 


  • This course requires four to six experiments such as the following: accurate position and brightness measurements of stars; laboratory exploration of the characteristics of two-dimensional charge-coupled devices (CCDs) and infrared detectors; measurement of the distance, reddening, and age of a star cluster; measurement of the Stokes parameters and linear polarization of diffuse synchrotron and reflection nebulae; measurement of the period…


  • Stellar Physics

    Astro 160

    CCN: 06020

    Instructor: Eliot Quataert

    Topics covered include some, but not necessarily all, of the following. Observational constraints on the properties and evolution of stars. Theory of stellar structure and evolution. Stellar atmospheres and stellar spectroscopy. Stellar nucleosynthesis. Supernovae. Degeneracy of matter and structure of collapsed stars. Elements of gas dynamics, accretion onto compact objects, and x-ray sources. Dynamics and evolution of close binary systems.…


  • Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics

    Astro C202 | Physics C202

    CCN: 06088

    Instructor: Chung-Pei Ma

    Principles of gas dynamics, self-gravitating fluids, magnetohydrodynamics and elementary kinetic theory. Aspects of convection, fluid oscillations, linear instabilities, spiral density waves, shock waves, turbulence, accretion disks, stellar winds, and jets. 


  • Radiation Processes in Astronomy

    Astro C207 | Physics C207

    CCN: 13414

    Instructor: Aaron Parsons

    An introduction to the basic physics of astronomy and astrophysics at the graduate level. Principles of energy transfer by radiation. Elements of classical and quantum theory of photon emission; bremsstrahlung, cyclotron and synchrotron radiation. Compton scattering, atomic, molecular and nuclear electromagnetic transitions. Collisional excitation of atoms, molecules and nuclei.  


  • Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology

    Astro C228 | Physics C228

    CCN: 06092

    Instructor: Martin White

    A survey of physical cosmology – the study of the origin, evolution, and fate of the universe. Topics include the Friedmann-Robertson-Walker model, thermal history and big bang nucleosynthesis, evidence and nature of dark matter and dark energy, the formation and growth of galaxies and large scale structure, the anisotropy of the cosmic microwave radiation, inflation in the early universe, tests…


  • Order of Magnitude Astrophysics

    Astro 250

    CCN: 13192

    Instructor: Jessica Lu

    This course will introduce you to order-­of-­magnitude estimation, the practice of solving complex problems approximately, within a factor of 10. In this course, you will learn how to estimate solutions by breaking problems into smaller pieces, making intelligent approximations and assumptions, mostly using knowledge you already have. You will also learn how to exercise your order-of-magnitude skills in practical astronomy…