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AST 301 · Introduction to Astronomy    1   2   3  


Course Topics
This course will provide a general introduction to contemporary astronomy. Unfortunately it is impossible in one semester to do justice to all potentially interesting topics. After beginning with about three weeks of discussion of some "natural phenomena" and some of the needed ideas from physics, we will spend about half of the semester studying the broad area of stellar astronomy. During this part of the course we will also introduce many of the areas of physics necessary to appreciate the origin and evolution of stars. What topics after stars? Unfortunately, it is simply not possible to do justice to both the subject of solar system astronomy (the Sun and the planets) and that of the larger universe (our galaxy, other galaxies, and cosmology). So, how about a sporting proposition here? As we near the end of our work on stars, I will call for a vote! Would you like to study galaxies and the universe, or would you like to study our Solar System? I'll make the decision if the vote is closely split, but will go with your wishes if a strong preference is indicated.

Below, I have blocked out the semester, naming the text chapters relevant to each topic. In each class, discussion will be focused on the more difficult material. However, you are responsible for all of the material given in the text, as well as that given in class. Please read the identified chapters of the text before our class discussion.


Week
Text
Topics
1
1, 2
Scale of the Universe, Nomenclature, Celestial Sphere
2
3
Motion of the Sun, Seasons, Lunar and Planetary Phases
3
3, 4
Eclipses, Planetary Motions, Gravitation
4
5
Electromagnetic Spectrum, Optics
5
5
Telescopes, Instruments, "Continuous Radiation"
First Exam (Approx.)
6
6
Radiation, Atoms and Spectral Lines, Doppler Effect
7
6, 8
Spectral Sequence, Parallax, HR Diagram, Binary Stars
8
8
Mass vs. Luminosity, Stellar Lifetimes, Star Clusters
9
8, 9
Star Formation, Structure of Stable Stars, Energy Sources
Second Exam (Approx.)
10
9, 10
Main Sequence Evolution, Red Giants, Planetary Nebulae
11
10, 11
White Dwarfs, Pulsars, Black Holes
OPTION 1:
12
12
The Milky Way Galaxy
13
13, 14
Other Galaxies, Galaxy Clusters, Peculiar Galaxies
Third Exam (Approx.)
14
14, 15
Exotic (violent) Galaxies; Cosmology Observations
15
15
Where and When did it begin? Cosmology Theory
OPTION 2:
12
16
Building From a Cloud to the Whole Solar System
13
17
The Moon and Terrestrial Planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars)
Third Exam (Approx.)
14
18
The Giant Planets (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune); Wannabes
15
19
Solar System Debris

FINAL EXAM: Friday, May 8, 2-5 PM




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14 January 2008
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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