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TTh 9:30-11 · RLM 5.104 · Unique No. 47690

helix nebula

Helix Nebula (NASA/JPL-Caltech)


Harriet Dinerstein

RLM 16.324 · TBA · (512) 471-3449 · email

Courses - Fall '10  |  Course Website

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Printable syllabus (pdf)

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Astronomy 307 is a one-semester introductory survey of modern astronomy designed for science and engineering majors. If you are enrolled in this course, we will assume that you enjoy solving problems using high-school level (non-calculus) math. If you don’t feel that you are this sort of person, please consider switching to one of the 6 sections of Astronomy 301, the introductory course intended for non-science majors, being offered this semester.

Astronomy is a very big subject to cover in one short semester, so we will move through the material fairly rapidly. My goal is to provide a comprehensive though brief overview of the Universe, from our Solar System to the largest scales. If we are not able to cover your favorite topic in sufficient depth to fully satisfy your curiosity, you may wish to take one of the Astronomy Department’s follow-up courses in a future semester. In particular, the Ast 309 courses cover a variety of special topics, from The Solar System to Galaxies, Quasars, & the Universe. We also offer advanced upper-division courses on Stellar Astronomy, Galaxies, Cosmology, etc., but most of these have prerequisites (usually two semesters of physics).

TEXTBOOK: We will use the 9th edition of the textbook “Universe” for which the lead author is Roger Freedman. (William Kaufmann was the original author, several editions and a couple of decades ago). It is available as a trade paperback, and you can probably get a used copy from the Co-op or on line. Used copies are likely to be about 65% the price of a new book. Alternatively, you can purchase an e-book for about the same price as a book, at You can probably get away with buying the 8th edition, which is similar except for some “premium” content for which you would have to pay extra, anyway. You could also buy the 8th edition as a used book. There is also an auxiliary publisher’s website which offers some helpful study materials:

Caution: Don’t purchase a book or eBook entitled “Universe: The Solar System” or “Universe: Stars and Galaxies.” These versions omit major sections of the course material. Also, do not buy “Discovering the Universe” or “Discovering the Essential Universe,” by Neil Comins (& possibly William Kaufmann); this is a different book entirely. (If in doubt, feel free to email the instructor, before wasting precious funds!)

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