Astronomy Undergraduate Courses • Fall 2018
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.
This course provides a sweeping overview of our understanding of the Universe, from our own Solar System, and planets around other stars, to black holes, distant galaxies, the Big Bang and more exotic topics like the Dark Matter, Dark Energy and Gravitational Waves. We will also address the question of whether life can arise elsewhere in the Universe than on Earth. We will use fundamental laws of physics - which we will review as we need them - to make sense of the many phenomena that modern telescopes have revealed. The class will emphasize how our understanding of the cosmos is incomplete and continues to evolve even today; how theories …
Optical and Infrared Astronomy Laboratory - Astron 120
Instructor: Gaspard Duchene
In this course, students undertake several inquiry-based lab experiments to acquire the bases of observational optical astronomy. The experiments, which build on theoretical knowledge obtained in previous classes and include the measurement of the Earth-Sun distance and the detection of an extrasolar planet, provide the students with a first introduction to the methodology of professional research. The skills that are emphasized and developed in the course include data acquisition and processing, thorough error analysis and the underlying statistics, as well as high-quality report writing, weekly show-and-tell discussions and group work.
Physics of planetary systems, both solar and extra-solar. Star and planet formation, radioactive dating, small-body dynamics and interaction of radiation with matter, tides, planetary interiors, atmospheres, and magnetospheres. High-quality oral presentations may be required in addition to problem sets and a final exam.
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 …
Origins: from the Big Bang to the Emergence of Humans - Astron C13
Instructor: Eliot Quataert, Charles Marshall
This course will cover our modern scientific understanding of origins, from the Big Bang to the formation of planets like Earth, evolution by natural selection, the genetic basis of evolution, and the emergence of humans. These ideas are of great intrinsic scientific importance and also have far reaching implications for other aspects of people's lives (e.g., philosophical, religious, and political). A major theme will be the scientific method and how we know what we know.