Office: RLM 17.214
Hours: M 2-3, or by appt
Phone: (512) 471-3397
This course provides an introduction into our basic understanding of the formation, structure, and evolution
of the universe. Where do the light and the matter permeating space come from? What do we really mean when
we say that "the universe is expanding"? How do we know that it was hot and dense at the beginning? What
was the Big Bang, and what are the residual traces of this event? How did the intricate cosmic structure, evident
in vast astronomical surveys, come into existence? Why are there billions upon billions of stars in every galaxy,
and billions of galaxies in the observable universe? What are black holes and what is their unique role in the
transformation of galaxies? Where are the boundaries of the present understanding? What are the missing pieces,
and what are the scientists doing to complete the picture? Along with a review of modern cosmology, I will discuss
the historical emergence of the discipline from its pre-scientific precursors. While tracing the evolution of the
universe to its beginnings, I will review recent and future experiments and missions, conducted on Earth and in
space, to explore and measure the universe. I will use these examples to illustrate the mechanisms of scientific
discovery that set science apart from other endeavors.
Classes, Prerequisites, and Textbook
Hours and Venue
The class meets in Robert A. Welch Hall (WEL) 3.502 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Review help sessions will be scheduled prior to exams or homework assignment due dates in Robert Lee Moore Hall
(RLM) 15.216b on Tuesdays at 5 - 6 p.m.
To take Astronomy 309R, you should have taken a descriptive introduction to astronomy, such as Astronomy 301,
302, or 303, or have obtained consent of the instructor.
Title: Cosmology, The Science of the Universe, 2nd Edition
Author: Edward Harrison
Publisher: Cambridge University Press