Courses by semester

Courses for Spring 2024

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
ASTRO1102 Our Solar System
The past few decades have seen incredible advances in the exploration of our solar system. In this course students learn about the current state and past evolution of the Sun and its family of planets, moons, asteroids, and comets. The course emphasizes images and other data obtained from current and past NASA space missions and how these data provide insights about the important processes that have shaped the evolution of solar system objects. General astronomical concepts relevant to the study of the solar system are also discussed. Critical focus is on developing an understanding of the Earth as a planetary body and discovering how studies of other planets and satellites influence models of the climatic, geologic, and biologic history of our home world. Other topics covered include energy production in stars, global warming, impact hazards, the search for life in the solar system and beyond, and future missions.

Full details for ASTRO 1102 - Our Solar System

ASTRO2201 The History of the Universe
General discussion of how the universe has evolved since the Big Bang era and how our understanding of it has changed from ancient to modern times. Several main themes are covered over the course of the semester: the evolution of our view of the sky from that of ancient cultures to that of space telescopes; the formation and nature of black holes; dark matter and dark energy; and the origin, evolution, and fate of the universe. Presents a nonmathematical introduction to these subjects and discusses uncertainties and unresolved issues in our understanding.

Full details for ASTRO 2201 - The History of the Universe

ASTRO2212 The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds
Introduction to the solar system with emphasis on the quantitative application of simple physical principles to the understanding of what we observe or can deduce. Topics include: planetary orbital and spin dynamics, tidal evolution, the interiors, surfaces, and atmospheres of the planets including the effects of greenhouse gases on climate, and smaller bodies such as satellites, asteroids and comets. Comparisons will be made between planetary systems discovered about other stars and our own solar system. Results from past and current spacecraft missions will be discussed. Final grades will depend on homework sets and on a final team project and in-class presentation, supported by a joint term paper. The course is more in-depth and quantitative than ASTRO 1102/ASTRO 1104. All course materials will be available online.

Full details for ASTRO 2212 - The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds

ASTRO2299 Search for Life in the Universe
This course surveys the possibilities for life in the universe and the search for it, against the backdrop of our modern understanding of the cosmos.  It covers ideas about the origin of the universe and how structure arises, the formation of stars and planets, how life might have begun on planets, the evolution of life on the Earth, and the search for life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond.

Full details for ASTRO 2299 - Search for Life in the Universe

ASTRO3302 The Life of Stars: From Birth to Death
This course covers the formation and birth of stars, their lives on the main sequence and their evolution of the main sequence to their final end-states as white dwarfs, neutron stars or black holes.

Full details for ASTRO 3302 - The Life of Stars: From Birth to Death

ASTRO3303 Galaxies Across Cosmic Time
This course provides an overview of our current understanding of how galaxies have evolved over the last 13+ billion years and how their evolution has been influenced by their local intergalactic environment. We will look at the evidence that links supermassive black holes, gas accretion and merger events to galaxy evolution and track the star formation rate from early to current epochs. Additional topics will include the formation and distribution of clusters and groups of galaxies, the importance of dark matter and how galaxy evolution fits into the framework of current cosmological models.

Full details for ASTRO 3303 - Galaxies Across Cosmic Time

ASTRO3334 Data Analysis and Research Techniques in Astronomy
Introduction to the tools of data processing and analysis for research in astronomy.  The course reviews the techniques employed in astrophysical research, both observational and theoretical, to explore the universe.  Methods and strategies of data acquisition and image and signal processing are discussed. Students gain hands-on experience with visualization techniques and methods of error analysis, data fitting, numerical simulation, and data scalability.  Exercises address the processes by which astrophysicists piece together observations made with today's foremost astronomical instruments to solve questions concerning the origin of planets, stars, galaxies, and the universe itself.  This course prepares students with the techniques and computing tools necessary to undertake research in astronomy and other data-driven fields.

Full details for ASTRO 3334 - Data Analysis and Research Techniques in Astronomy

ASTRO4940 Independent Study in Astronomy
Individuals work on selected topics. A program of study is devised by the student and instructor.

Full details for ASTRO 4940 - Independent Study in Astronomy

Fall or Spring.
ASTRO6516 Galactic Structure and Stellar Dynamics
Introduction to the study of the structure of galaxies via the laws of modern physics. Topics include the observed kinematics and spatial distribution of stars in the vicinity of the Sun, shapes and properties of stellar orbits, the gravitational N-body problem, collisional relaxation in stellar systems, spiral structure, galaxy classification and evolution, and cosmological results in galaxy formation.

Full details for ASTRO 6516 - Galactic Structure and Stellar Dynamics

ASTRO6530 Astrophysical Processes
This course focusses on radiative processes that are important for astrophysical applications, especially the effects of absorption, emission, scattering and refraction on the propagation of polarized radiation. Applications to specific astronomical phenomena will be discussed. Time permitting non-electromagnetic processes, such as neutrino production and transport and physics of dark matter, will be covered.

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ASTRO6575 Planetary Atmospheres
This course will provide an overview of fundamental physical processes that govern the structure and behavior of atmospheres in the solar system and beyond. Topics covered will include the basic principles of atmospheric statics, radiative transfer, dynamics, cloud physics, and chemistry to understand the diverse range of observable atmospheres.

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ASTRO6577 Planetary Surface Processes
Survey of remote sensing techniques used to observe the surfaces of solar system bodies and the geomorphic processes involved in their formation and evolution. Surface morphology and landforms of terrestrial planets, satellites, asteroids, and comets. Fundamentals of impact cratering, volcanism, tectonism, and erosion, with significant emphasis on terrestrial field sites as analogs. Basic introduction to physical, geochemical, and "space" weathering of planetary surfaces. Basic introduction to field methods and remote sensing techniques/data sets (terrestrial, spacecraft).

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ASTRO6580 Planetary Surface Processes Field Trip
This course provides real "boots on the ground" experience with planetary surface processes, practice geologic field observation skills, and compare remote sensing and field observations of planetary surface processes.

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ASTRO6940 Advanced Study and Research
Guided reading and seminars on topics not currently covered in regular courses.

Full details for ASTRO 6940 - Advanced Study and Research

Fall or Spring.
ASTRO7683 Seminar: Astronomy and Planetary Science
This course is a reading seminar where graduate students will gain astronomy breadth, practice public speaking, and distill important results from seminal astronomy research papers.

Full details for ASTRO 7683 - Seminar: Astronomy and Planetary Science

Fall, Spring.