ASTR 20: Introduction to Astrophysics
ASTR 1, 14, or 16
Intended for students who desire an astronomy course more advanced than the general survey course. Emphasis on current state of
theoretical astrophysics and research astronomy. An opportunity for students to pursue independent research projects or to develop teaching aids for astronomy. The College planetarium and observatory, including the
14-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, a CCD camera, and fiber-optic spectrograph are available for such projects.
This is an introductory astrophysics course that emphasizes the application of basic physical laws to understanding physical
conditions in various astronomical phenomena. Basic physical laws will be introduced in a self-contained manner throughout the semester. The instructional methodology in this class is to emphasize a problem-solving
approach to astrophysics. The presentation will consist of lectures, problem-solving conferences, and seminars. (Optional field trips will be offered from time to time.)
Regular homework assignments will be distributed in the beginning of the semester. Assigned problems are more-or-less standard problems relevant to astrophysics. You are encouraged to work with your classmates, but you must turn in your own write-ups.
In addition to the regular homework assignments, you are required to collaborate with your classmates to do project(s) and present the results at midterm and/or
at the end of the semester. You may consider these projects as an in-depth study of a particular astronomical phenomenon -- details will be announced later.
The exams are entirely based on the problem set, but exam questions are not necessarily identical to the problems in the set. All exams are open-book.
Two special topics, data reduction and interferometry, may be introduced during the semester. These two topics are usually not taught in undergraduate astronomy classes. However, these topics are absolutely essential if you plan to major in astronomy or do research in the near future. I will introduce the Image Reduction Analysis Facility (IRAF), which is one of the standard data reduction software packages used by professional astronomers.
This software can be run on a PC, and is freely distributed by the National Optical Astronomical Observatories (NOAO). I will introduce
basic data reduction techniques in preparing both direct-imaging data and spectroscopic data within the IRAF environment.
- Jones, Mark H. & Robert J. A. Lambourne. An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology.
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-54623-0 [Required]
- Duncan, Todd. & Craig Tyler. Your Cosmic Context: An Introduction to Modern
Cosmology. Pearson. ISBN 0-13-240010-3 [Recommended]
Ryden, Barbara. Introduction to Cosmology. Pearson. ISBN 0-8053-8912-1 [Recommended]
Shu, Frank H. The Physical Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy. University Science Books. ISBN 0-935702-05-9
Kogut, John. Introduction to Relativity. Harcourt. ISBN 0-12-417561-9
- Green, Simon F. & Mark H. Jones. An Introduction to the Sun and Stars.Cambridge
University Press. ISBN 0-521-54622-2