Course Descriptions

Astronomy 103: The Evolving Universe

The universe is vast and ever-changing. The topics covered in this course include lifecycles of stars; supernovae and creation of elements; white dwarfs, pulsars and black holes; the Milky Way and galaxies; distances of stars and galaxies; quasars; expansion of universe; open and closed universes; the big bang. Prerequisites: Open to all undergrads. Not open to students who meet prerequisites for Astronomy 200.

Astronomy 104: Exploration of the Solar System

Humanity is linked to the solar system in countless ways. Topics covered in this course include the sky and celestial motions; ancient astronomy; the Copernican revolution; gravity, orbits, and interplanetary travel; formation of the solar system; a survey of the sun, planets and moons; asteroids, meteors and comets; origin of life, and exoplanets. Prerequisites: Open to all undergrads.

Astronomy 113: Hands on the Universe

Exploration of the universe via computer simulation of astronomical observations. Examples of topics include telescopes, the distances to stars, the spectra of the stars, star clusters, the Hubble expansion, and the large scale structure of the universe. Discovery through observation, hypothesis, and quantitative analysis is emphasized. Prerequisites: Open to all undergrads. Intended to be taken concurrently with Astron 103. Previous Astronomy 100 or 103 or instructor consent acceptable.

Astronomy 114: Hands on the Solar System

Exploration via computer simulation of astronomical observations. Examples of topics include the sky and celestial motions, Jupiter's moons, rocketry, colonization, and extra-solar planets. Naked-eye and telescope observations will also be made. Discovery through observation, hypothesis, and quantitative analysis is emphasized. Prerequisites: Open to all undergrads. Intended to be taken concurrently with Astronomy 104. Previous Astronomy 104 or instructor consent instead acceptable.

Astronomy 150: Topics in Astronomy

This course will intensively study selected topics of modern astronomy. Examples include missions to the planets, formation of stars and planets, end states of stellar evolution (supernovae, white dwarfs, pulsars, black holes), origin and evolution of the universe. Prerequisites: Open to all undergrads. Astronomy 103, 104, as appropriate for the topic, or instructor consent.

Astronomy 160: Life in the Universe

An examination of the origin and evolution of life in the universe based on our knowledge of astronomy, biology, and geology. Includes discussions on the search for extraterrestrial life and the history of life in our solar system. Prerequisites: Open to all undergrads.

Astronomy 200: The Physical Universe

This course is the gateway descriptive astronomy course for students interested in majoring in astronomy or in obtaining a more complete knowledge of the field than provided by Astro 100 series of classes. Modern astrophysics involves applying physical principles to understand astronomical phenomena. Includes the solar system, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and cosmology, with emphasis on origins and evolution. We will study the properties of cosmic systems on a topical basis. The class will include both descriptive and quantitative exercises, the latter using basic algebra and physics.  

Astronomy 206: History of Astronomy and Cosmology

The development of astronomical knowledge and cosmological views from the earliest times to the present, viewed in their social, philosophical, and technological contexts.  Prerequisites:  Sophomore standing.

Astronomy 236: The History of Matter in the Universe

Astronomy 236 allows students to study how the distribution of elements in the Universe has changed over the last 13.7 billion years by tracing the history of matter from the Big Bang to the present composition of terrestrial planets like the Earth.  The course will touch on a broad range of astronomical topics including cosmology, the evolution of stars and galaxies, and the formation of planetary systems, all while showing how astronomy links to other disciplines like geology and chemistry.  The course is also designed so that students will be introduced to and enhance their skills in scientific and technical writing. Readings will draw on scientific journals and the popular press to give students experience with a wide range of scientific writing styles.  Astronomy 236 meets the University's Comm-B requirement. Prerequisites: 1 year of college chemistry or physics, or by instructor consent. Open to Freshmen.

Astronomy 310: Stellar Astrophysics

Properties of normal and peculiar stars as found from an analysis of the radiation they emit; introduction to radiation transfer. Theory of stellar atmospheres, interiors, and evolution. Prerequisites: Math 222 and Physics 205 or 241

Astronomy 320: The Interstellar Medium

Properties of neutral and ionized interstellar gas, giant molecular clouds, the warm and hot intercloud medium, supernova remnants, and interstellar dust. Physical processes in low density gases including radiation transfer, excitation and ionization of interstellar atoms and molecules, and the interaction between gas and dust. Prerequisites: Astronomy 310

Astronomy 330: Galaxies

Distribution of stars, gas, and dust within our Milky Way, and their motions. Nearby galaxies: our Local Group. Optical, radio, and other techniques for observing galaxies. Composition and motions of other galaxies; galaxies with active nuclei; galaxy formation. Prerequisites: Astronomy 310

Astronomy 335: Cosmology

Introduction to the study of our Universe as a whole. Distribution of matter on the largest scales. Equations for cosmic expansion; making observations in an expanding curved spacetime. Nucleosynthesis and other tests of the Big Bang hypothesis. Gravitational collapse and the growth of structure. Prerequisites: Astronomy 310

Astronomy 340: Solar System Astrophysics

Properties of solar system objects, solar atmospheric phenomena, physics of planetary atmospheres, results of recent planetary missions, comets, origin of the solar system. Prerequisites: Math 222 and Physics 205 or 241

Astronomy 460: Experiences in Astronomical Observing

A basic introduction into astronomical research by undertaking a small observing project with optical and/or radio telescopes. Topics covered are: understanding the astronomical literature, observing and data reduction, writing scientific reports and papers, presenting scientific results, and basics of scientific ethics. Prerequisites: Astronomy 310

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