## Introduction to Astrophysics: Course Description

ASTR 350 (Introduction to Astrophysics: Stars) and ASTR 360 (Galaxies and Cosmology)
provide a year-long introduction to the branch of physics that
deals with celestial objects. The courses may be taken in either order.
Both are required for the BS degree in Astrophysics and the BA in Astronomy. Most majors take
these courses as juniors; however, it is not uncommon to have sophomores in the
class, as well as seniors from majors outside physics. The graduate level
version of these courses is 451/551 and 452/552. ASTR 350 and ASTR 360 prepare
our majors for these graduate courses, which are standard at schools throughout
the country.

In Astr 350, we begin by following the calculations of Kepler and Newton
to derive the equations that describe the motions of celestial objects under
the influence of gravity, and will apply these equations to various
phenomena of interest in astronomy such as binary stars, cometary orbits,
tides, and planetary rings. After some discussion of observational
astronomy and modern physics we will be able to determine
how stars (including the Sun) are born, why they shine, what happens as they
age, and how they die. We then consider the bizarre
world of compact objects, where gravity bends light and time is slowed.
At the end of the course we discuss the physics that governs the
vast reaches of interstellar space in our own galaxy.

Unfortunately, much of the physics and mathematics needed to study astrophysics
you learn as juniors and seniors, so complete mathematical rigor
is not possible. However, I will strive to present as clear and
complete a picture as possible given the time constraints of the course.

The instructor for Fall 2001 is
Dr. Hartigan.

Check out the requirements for the
BS in astrophysics.