Aug 18, 2022  
2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
2020-2021 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PH 341 - Intro-Astronomy/Astrophysics

3 lecture hours 0 lab hours 3 credits
Course Description
This introductory survey covers topics that range from a discussion of the observations and experiments of the earliest astronomers to a consideration of the most recent developments involving black holes, the detection of gravitational waves, and the search for extrasolar planets. Broad topic areas include the Earth, the solar system, lives of stars, and galaxies. Some time is spent discussing different types of telescopes, including spaced-based telescopes. A Maksutov-Cassegrain 5-inch reflecting telescope is available for student use off campus. (prereq: PH 123 , PH 130 , PH 2020 or PH 2021 )
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Distinguish between scientific models and reality. Discuss the scientific method
  • Discuss the history of astronomy and astronomical observations
  • Describe the universe in general terms, its constituents, and the Earth’s position in the universe.
  • Distinguish between astronomy and astrology
  • Describe how the laws of Newtonian mechanics lead to an understanding of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion
  • Discuss the mechanics of orbits and explain “weight-lessness”
  • Understand the use of celestial coordinates and terminology
  • Explain the origin of the Earth’s seasons, lunar phases and eclipses of the sun and moon
  • Describe the electromagnetic spectrum and the inverse-square law of propagation of electromagnetic energy
  • Explain the importance of spectroscopy in astronomy, as used in temperature determination and spectral classification, composition, and relative velocity of stars
  • Discuss the Planck Radiation Law, and basic atomic theory as it relates to emission and absorption spectra
  • Describe various forms of astronomical instrumentation, including optical and radio telescopes, photometric devices, and ultraviolet, x-ray, and gamma ray telescopes
  • Explain the choices of the locations of the orbiting Hubble and James Webb space telescopes
  • Describe the solar system, its constituents, and size in general terms and to discuss the properties of the terrestrial and Jovian planets
  • Calculate the average temperature of the surfaces of the planets, and to know the current facts about climate change and global warming
  • Describe the life cycle of stars and to explain how the details of a star’s life cycle depends on its mass
  • Discuss meteors, asteroids, and comets in general terms
  • Discuss the history and future of space exploration
  • Explain how the apparent and absolute magnitudes of stars are determined
  • Explain how astronomical distances are determined
  • Understand how the energy radiated by the sun is produced and to calculate the sun’s probable lifetime
  • Explain how the H-R diagram and computer methods lead to an understanding of the structure and evolution of stars, including white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, black holes, and supernovae
  • Describe the Milky Way Galaxy, its shape, size, and structure
  • Discuss galaxies, galactic distances and galactic types, including quasars
  • Discuss the structure of the universe, the Hubble Law, and the Big Bang cosmological model
  • Understand the different methods used to search for extrasolar planets including the Kepler Mission

Prerequisites by Topic
  • None 

Course Topics
  • Astronomy (6 classes)
  • Observational astronomy (6 classes)
  • Planetary and stellar motions (6 classes)
  • Interstellar material (3 classes)
  • Star types, etc. (3 classes)
  • Stellar evolution (2 classes)
  • Galaxies and quasars (2 classes)
  • Cosmology (2 classes)

Dr. A. James Mallmann

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