AST 250      Fundamentals of Astronomy

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UofA Science Talk Schedules


MWF 10-11am N210
Spring 2010

Dr. Yancy Shirley
office hours: N310 MWF 11-12
phone: (520) 626-3666

T.A.: Jonathan Stott
office hours: N209 T 10-11, Th 1-2
phone: (520) 621-7855

FA = Fundamental Astronomy. TS = The Stars

Date Topic Reading
W Jan 13 Introduction/Parallax (blackboard.pdf) FA:Chapter 1, 2.10
F Jan 15 LST/Coordinates (blackboard.pdf) (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 2
TS:Part 4
W Jan 20 Precession/Spherical Trig (derivation.pdf) (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 2
TS: Part 4
F Jan 22 HOMEWORK #1 DUE (homework1.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
M Jan 25 Nature of Light (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 5.1
W Jan 27 Specific Intensity & Flux Density (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 4
F Jan 29 Magnitudes (board.pdf) (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 4
M Feb 01 Blackbody Radiation (board.pdf) (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 5.7, 5.8
W Feb 03 HOMEWORK #2 DUE (homework2.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
F Feb 05 Radiation Mechanism FA:Chapter 5.2,5.9
M Feb 08 EXAM #1 (old exam)
W Feb 10 Telescope Optics FA:Chapter: 3.1-3.3
F Feb 12 Resolution (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 3.5-3.6
M Feb 15 Radio Telescopes (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 3.4
F Feb 19 HOMEWORK #3 DUE (homework3.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
M Feb 22 Virial Theorem (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 6.10
W Feb 24 Stellar Energy Sources (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 10.1 (Hydrostatic Equilb.)
F Feb 26 Nucleosynthesis (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 10.3, 11.1
M Mar 01 HOMEWORK #4 DUE (homework4.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
W Mar 03 Nucleosynthesis Cont. (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 10.4, Chapter 12
F Mar 05 Star Formation (slides.pdf) (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 11.2
M Mar 08 EXAM #2
W Mar 10 Stellar Evolution (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 8
F Mar 12 Stellar Evolution Cont. (slides.pdf) (Online H-R Sim) FA:Chapter 11.3-11.9, Chapter 14
M Mar 22 Stellar Death (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 14, 13.3 (SN), 11.8
W Mar 24 Periodic Table, Metallicity, & Cepheids (slides.pdf) FA:2.10, 13.1-13.2
F Mar 26 HOMEWORK #5 DUE (homework5.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
M Mar 29 Kepler's Laws (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 6.1-6.6
W Mar 31 Kepler's Laws FA:Chapter 6.1-6.6
F Apr 02 Intro to the Solar System (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 7
M Apr 05 Solar System Cont. FA:Chapter 7
W Apr 07 HOMEWORK #6 DUE (homework6.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
F Apr 09 Extrasolar Planets (slides.pdf)FA:Chapter 9.3
W Apr 14 EXAM #3
F Apr 16 Dust and Curtis-Shapley Debate (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 15.1-15.3, 15.6-15.8,Chapter 17
M Apr 19 Properties of Galaxies (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 18
W Apr 21 Redshift & Hubble Law (slides.pdf) (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 19.1
F Apr 23 HOMEWORK #7 DUE (homework7.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
M Apr 26 Introduction to Cosmology (cosmo calculator) (slides.pdf) (board.pdf) FA:Chapter 19
W Apr 28 Evidence for Dark Matter & Dark Energy FA:Chapter 19
F Apr 30 Big Bang & Cosmic Evolution (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 19
M May 03 HOMEWORK #8 DUE (homework8.pdf) (solutions.pdf)
W May 05 Last Day of Class: SETI & Astrobiology (slides.pdf) FA:Chapter 20
F May 07 EXAM #4 *11am-1pm* N210

Class Syllabus

      This is an introductory class in astronomy and astrophysics for freshman and sophomore astronomy majors and other science majors with strong interests in astronomy, physics, and mathematics. The class covers most aspects of astronomy, including stars, planets, galaxies, and cosmology, but with a more rigorous physical and mathematical treatment than in any General Education Natural Science class. The course focuses on the application of mathematical and physical principles to astronomical problems -- so there will be lots of problem sets handed out as homework assignments. The emphasis of the course is on understanding, not on memorization.
      The prerequisites are MATH 124 or 125 AND PHYS 141,151, or 161H. Should be taking PHYS 142, 152, or 162H and MATH 129 concurrently. You should be comfortable with basic algebra, trigonometry, calculus, vectors, freshman physics and scientific notation.
      The reference textbooks for the course are Fundamental Astronomy (5th edition) by Karttunen et al. and The Stars: A New Way to See Them (2nd edition) by H.A. Rey (yes - that is same author that wrote/illustrated Curious George).


      Your grade in this course will depend on your performance on the problem sets (50% in total) and exams (50% in total). Exams are closed-note but calculators are allowed. The exams will consist of short written essays and mathematical problems. Your worst homework and worst exam will be discarded in the calculation of the final grade. There will be no extra credit. No late homework will be accepted. Homework is due at the beginning of class as we will be discussing homework solutions during the recitation sessions. No makeup exams with no exceptions. If you miss an exam, it will count as your lowest (dropped) exam. The final grades may be curved. The maximum scale is set at: A(>90%), B(>80%), C(>70%), D(>50%).
      On days that homework is due during the term, we will conduct the class as a recitation section, reviewing important mathematical and physical concepts relevant to the week's lecture and practicing problem solving. The sessions will provide an excellent opportunity for students who have reviews their recent lecture notes to ask more questions about the material and to gain insight into the latest homework assignments.

  • Do your own work. Modern science is a collaborative, and people learn from talking to each other. Feel free to talk to the instructor, TA, or other students about homework assignments. But the work you turn in must be your own -- don't just copy assignments. Copying is cheating and will be handled according to the university policies. The instructor subscribes to the University's Code of Academic Integrity. The Code prohibits all forms of academic dishonesty, including cheating, plagiarism, and facilitating dishonesty by others. The repercussions for those found guilty of violating the Code will include loss of credit for the work and may include failure of the course or more extreme measures.
  • Attendance, participation, and conduct. Attendance and participation in class are important -- especially as the exam and homework material will be drawn from the lectures, and only supplemented from the textbooks. You are strongly encouraged to participate in class by asking questions. Please be courteous to your fellow classmates: please turn off cell phones; don't surf the Internet in class, etc.
  • Grading. You have one week from the time an assignment or exam is returned to challenge any perceived errors. The exception to this rule is for Exam #4 - final course grades will be submitted the same day as Exam #4.