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Astronomy 352K - Fall 2006
for Science Majors
TTh 11:00-12:15 · RLM 15.216B · Unique No. 50515


Harriet Dinerstein

Office: RLM 16.324
Hours: M 1:30-2:30, W 10:30-11:30, or by appt
Phone: (512) 471-3449

Course Website

ir globular cluster


Jessica Wood

Subject Matter:
Stars are obviously fundamental to the subject of astronomy; its very name means "study of the stars"! Stars are the building blocks of galaxies, the central bodies of planetary systems, and the nuclear ovens in which all of the elements heavier than helium were created. Astronomy 352K is a technical, junior/senior-level introduction to stellar astronomy and astrophysics, designed for astronomy or physics majors, or those in closely related majors. We will approach the subject the way professional astronomers do, by examining the "observable" properties of stars. These are the quantities that we can measure even from great distances, such as the color and brightness of the light they emit. By applying physical principles, we will show how one can infer the intrinsic (true) properties of stars - such as surface temperature, radius, and luminosity (total radiative energy output) - from these observables. This requires a detailed understanding of how to read the information encoded in light, and how it is determined by conditions in the material emitting the light. We will discuss the various instruments and measurement techniques used by astronomers, and what can be learned from each method. Towards the end of the semester, we will give a brief overview of the life stories of stars from birth to death, and cover special topics selected partly according to the interests of the class.

Prerequisite & Approach:
Physics: The prerequisites are Physics 316 or equivalent (lower-division E&M), and its prerequisite, Physics 301 (Mechanics), as well as the accompanying math courses. However, astronomy draws on such a wide variety of areas of physics - for example, atomic structure, statistical mechanics, & the theory of radiation - that we cannot expect you to have

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5 September 2006
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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