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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Completion of QR-A. Open to all Undergrads. Stdts may not receive cr for both Astron 100 & 103. Not open to stdts who meet prereq for Astron 200

Astronomy 104: Our 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.  

Pre-Reqs:  Completion of QR-A. Open to all Undergrads. Stdts may not receive cr for both Astron 100 & 104

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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Open to all Undergrads. Intended to be taken concurrently with Astron 103. Prev Astron 100 or Astron 103 or cons inst acceptable. Satisfies QR-B only if Astron 100 or Astron 103 is also completed. Not open to stdts who have taken Astron 110

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.  

Pre-Reqs:  Open to all Undergrads. Intended to be taken concurrently with Astron 104. Prev Astron 100 or Astron 104 or cons inst acceptable. Satisfies QR-B only if Astron 104 is also completed. Not open to stdts who have taken Astron 110

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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Astron 100, 103, or 104, as appropriate for topic, or consent of instructor

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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Open to all undergrads

Astronomy 199: Directed Study

Pre-Reqs:  Astron 100 or equiv or cons inst. Open to Fr

Astronomy 199: Independent Study

Pre-Reqs:  Astron 100 or equiv or cons inst. Open to Fr

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. 

Pre-Reqs: Physics 202 or 208 or cons inst. Not open to stdts who have taken Astron 100 or 103. Simple calculus required.

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. 

Pre-Reqs:  So st

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. 

Pre-Reqs:  1 yr college chem or physics, or cons inst. Open to Fr

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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Math 222 & 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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Math 222 and Physics 205 or 241

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

Pre-Reqs:  Astron 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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Astron 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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Math 222 & 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. 

Pre-Reqs:  Cons inst. One of Astron 310, 320, 330, or 500 advised

Astronomy 620: Seminar in Astrophysical Topics

Current problems; topic changes.

Pre-Reqs:  Astron 310 or cons inst

Astronomy 681: Senior Honors Thesis

The Senior Honors Thesis is a two-semester (681 and 682), 6 credit research commitment to a topic that you and your faculty mentor agree on. The result is an academic paper, often of publishable quality. Honors Thesis projects are most successful if a student contacts a faculty member he or she would like to work with at least one semester before he or she plans to start researching. Senior Honors Thesis courses can be taken in any semester, including over the summer.  For helpful information on writing and planning your thesis, see Senior Honors Thesis FAQs, Senior Honors Thesis Links, and Timeline for Senior Thesis.

Reqs:  Sr Honors or Honors in the Major students. Cons inst

Astronomy 682: Senior Honors Thesis

See 681.

Reqs:  Astron 681 & cons inst

Astronomy 691: Senior Thesis

The Senior Thesis is a two-semester (691 and 692), 6 credit research commitment to a topic that you and your faculty mentor agree on. The result is an academic paper, often of publishable quality. Thesis projects are most successful if a student contacts a faculty member he or she would like to work with at least one semester before he or she plans to start researching. Senior Thesis courses can be taken in any semester, including over the summer. For helpful information on writing and planning your thesis, see Senior Honors Thesis FAQs, Senior Honors Thesis Links, and Timeline for Senior Thesis.

Reqs:  Sr astronomy-physics major & cons inst

Astronomy 692: Senior Thesis

See 691.

Reqs:  Astron 691 & cons inst

Astronomy 699: Directed Study

Independent reading and research under the mentorship of a faculty member.

Reqs:  L & S Undergrads need 2.5, Jr or Sr st & cons inst

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