Current Courses

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ASTRO 1101 : From New Worlds to Black Holes
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1103 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Lisa Kaltenegger
Description
ASTRO 1103 : From New Worlds to Black Holes
Crosslisted as: ASTRO 1101 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Lisa Kaltenegger
Identical to ASTRO 1101 except for addition of the laboratory.
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ASTRO 1195 : Observational Astronomy
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Gordon Stacey
Provides a "hands-on" introduction to observational astronomy intended for liberal arts students. High school mathematics is assumed, but otherwise there are no formal prerequisites. The course objective is to learn how we know what we know about the Universe, and to learn how to observe with moderate cost amateur telescopes. There are two lectures and one evening laboratory per week. Typically, labs consist of 4-5 observing sessions using the Fuertes Observatory 12" telescope and a set of Meade 8" telescopes, a trip to Mount Pleasant to look through its 25" telescope and, on cloudy nights, 4-5 in-class experiments, the highlight of which is collecting micrometeorites for study.
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ASTRO 1700 : History of Exploration: Land, Sea, and Space
Crosslisted as: HIST 1700 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Steven Squyres
Eric Tagliacozzo
From ancient seafarers to the Mars rovers, from Christopher Columbus to the Apollo astronauts, humans have for centuries explored the far reaches of our planet and are now venturing into the solar system and beyond. This course examines the history of such human activity. Among the topics covered are motives for exploration, technological advances that assist exploration, obstacles that must be overcome, the roles of leaders, the spread of information about exploration, and positive and negative consequences of exploration. It is led by Steven Squyres of Astronomy and Eric Tagliacozzo of History, with the assistance of guest lecturers.
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ASTRO 2202 : A Spacecraft Tour of the Solar System: Science, Policy and Exploration
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Alexander Hayes
Writing course designed to develop an understanding of modern solar system exploration. Discussion will center on describing our home planet as a member of a diverse family of objects in our solar system. In addition to studying what we have learned of other planets and satellites from unmanned spacecraft, we will also discuss the missions themselves and describe the process of how they are selected and developed. Guest lecturers will include political advocacy experts, NASA officials, and science team members of active NASA/ESA missions. Participants will study, debate, and learn to write critically about important issues in science and public policy that benefit from this perspective. Topics discussed include space policy, the potential for life in the ocean worlds of the outer solar system, the search for extrasolar planets and extraterrestrial intelligence, and the exploration of Mars.
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ASTRO 2212 : The Solar System: Planets, Small Bodies and New Worlds
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Phil Nicholson
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 the formation and evolution of the solar system, 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 than ASTRO 1102/1104. All course materials will be available online.
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ASTRO 3302 : The Life of Stars: From Birth to Death
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Dong Lai
James Lloyd
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.
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ASTRO 4410 : Experimental Astronomy
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Jim Cordes
James Lloyd
The course covers methods in optical and radio astronomy and selected topics in astrophysics.  Major experiments use techniques chosen from charge-coupled device (CCD) imaging, optical photometry, optical spectroscopy, radiometry and radio spectroscopy.  Observations use the Hartung-Boothroyd Observatory's 24-inch telescope and a 3.8-meter radio telescope on the roof of the Space Sciences Building.  The course covers the fundamentals of astronomical instrumentation and data analysis applied to a wide range of celestial phenomena: asteroids, main-sequence stars, supernova remnants, globular clusters, planetary nebulae, the interstellar medium, OH masers, and galaxies.  Methods include statistical data analysis, artifact and interference excision, Fourier transforms, heterodyned receivers, and software-defined radio.
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ASTRO 4433 : Introduction to Cosmology
Crosslisted as: PHYS 4433 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Nicholas Battaglia
An introduction to theoretical and observational cosmology aimed at interested science and engineering majors. Topics include an introduction to general relativity as applied to the cosmos; the cosmic expansion history and how it relates to the nature of matter in the universe; processes in the early universe; how galaxies and clusters of galaxies form; current and prospective cosmological surveys of galaxies, galaxy clusters, gravitational lensing, and the cosmic microwave background. The material is at a less technical level than the graduate cosmology course ASTRO 6599.
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ASTRO 4445 : Introduction to General Relativity
Crosslisted as: PHYS 4445 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Thomas Hartman
One-semester introduction to general relativity that develops the essential structure and phenomenology of the theory without requiring prior exposure to tensor analysis. General relativity is a fundamental cornerstone of physics that underlies several of the most exciting areas of current research, including relativistic astrophysics, cosmology, and the search for a quantum theory of gravity. The course briefly reviews special relativity, introduces basic aspects of differential geometry, including metrics, geodesics, and the Riemann tensor, describes black hole spacetimes and cosmological solutions, and concludes with the Einstein equation and its linearized gravitational wave solutions. At the level of Gravity: An Introduction to Einstein's General Relativity by Hartle.
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ASTRO 4940 : Independent Study in Astronomy
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Rachel Bean
Nicholas Battaglia
Alexander Hayes
David Chernoff
Jim Cordes
Eanna Flanagan
Martha Haynes
Terry Herter
Nikole Lewis
Dong Lai
James Lloyd
Richard Lovelace
Jonathan Lunine
Phil Nicholson
Marina Romanova
Steven Squyres
Gordon Stacey
Saul Teukolsky
Ira Wasserman
Donald Banfield
Paul Helfenstein
Larry Kidder
Tom Loredo
Robert Sullivan
Dominik Riechers
Lisa Kaltenegger
Individuals work on selected topics. A program of study is devised by the student and instructor.
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ASTRO 6516 : Astrophysical Dynamics
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Dong Lai
A knowledge of classical dynamics is essential for understanding some of the most interesting problems in astrophysics, from planetary systems to galaxies. This course will introduce and review theories of dynamical systems (e.g. Hamiltonian mechanics and nonlinear dynamics). The major focus will be on the dynamics of planetary systems (both Solar system and exoplanetary systems) and galactic dynamics. There are no astronomy or advanced mechanics prerequisites.
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ASTRO 6525 : Techniques of Optical/Infrared, Submillimeter and Radio Astronomy
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Jim Cordes
Gordon Stacey
This course covers telescope design, optics design and instrumentation for wavelengths from optical to radio and their relation to current research needs. Adaptive optics, interferometry, aperture synthesis, and beam forming will be covered. Instrumentation discussions will include CCD and IR/submillimeter detector arrays, heterodyne systems and phased array feeds at radio wavelengths as well as camera designs, cryogenic systems, spectrographs/spectrometers and interferometric correlators. Sensitivity issues, observing techniques, polarimetry and data analysis will be discussed.
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ASTRO 6530 : Astrophysical Processes
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Ira Wasserman
This course covers fundamentals of radiative transfer, bremsstrahlung, synchrotron radiation, Compton scattering, spectral line transfer, gas heating and cooling, and topics in atomic and molecular spectroscopy are discussed within the framework of astrophysical sources and problems. Applications will include the interstellar and intergalactic media, neutron stars, active galactic nuclei, and exoplanetary systems.
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ASTRO 6940 : Advanced Study and Research
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Rachel Bean
Nicholas Battaglia
David Chernoff
Jim Cordes
Eanna Flanagan
Martha Haynes
Terry Herter
Nikole Lewis
Dong Lai
James Lloyd
Richard Lovelace
Jonathan Lunine
Phil Nicholson
Marina Romanova
Steven Squyres
Gordon Stacey
Saul Teukolsky
Ira Wasserman
Donald Banfield
Paul Helfenstein
Larry Kidder
Tom Loredo
Robert Sullivan
Dominik Riechers
Alexander Hayes
Lisa Kaltenegger
Guided reading and seminars on topics not currently covered in regular courses.
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ASTRO 7671 : Topics in Planetary Atmospheres
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Nikole Lewis
Course explores current issues in planetary science. Topics vary by semester. This Fall 2019 seminar 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. These topics will be explored through review of relevant recent research in solar system and exoplanetary science.
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ASTRO 7683 : Seminar: Astronomy and Planetary Science
Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Nicholas Battaglia
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.
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ASTRO 7690 : Computational Physics
Crosslisted as: PHYS 4480, PHYS 7680 Semester offered: Fall 2019 Instructor:
Saul Teukolsky
Covers numerical methods for ordinary and partial differential equations, linear algebra and eigenvalue problems, integration, nonlinear equations, optimization, and fast Fourier transforms. Find out how and why the "black-box" numerical routines you use work, how to improve and generalize them, and how to fix them when they don't. Based on the text Numerical Recipes by William H. Press, Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling, and Brian P. Flannery.
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