Astronomy 271.001 General Astronomy (Call No. 33903) Syllabus: Spring 2018

Course Description and Goals: Astronomy 271 is a general astronomy survey course at a greater level of detail than is covered in Astronomy 101. ASTR 270 and 271 are also the first required ASTR classes for BS Astrophysics majors. ASTR 271 is also required for the BA in Physics and Astrophysics. During this spring semester (part 2 of the 2 part series of Astronomy 270/271) we will learn about stars, our own Milky Way Galaxy, other galaxies and everything else in the Universe. This course will describe the nature of the Universe starting with stars and working up through star clusters, galaxies, clusters of galaxies and superclusters. Black holes, pulsars, supernovae, dark matter, the expanding Universe and other fascinating astronomical topics will also be explored. We will use math and physics as we explore the Universe. We will also discuss the methods and observations on which our understanding is based.

Pre-Requisites: Math 150 or 162. Physics 151 or higher. We will learn some physics concepts and make use of high-school level algebra and trigonometry, but will not use calculus.

Instructor: Prof. Greg Taylor;; 277-5238; web page

The Lab (A271L): There is a night laboratory which accompanies this class, where you learn about the night sky, and get your hands on real telescopes. It meets at the Campus Observatory, and is open to everybody in this class. You certainly may take this lecture course without the lab if you wish, but if you are an Astrophysics major, the lab is required.

Course Text: Universe, Freedman, Geller and Kaufmann, 9th or 10th edition. Chapter assignments in the syllabus assume the 10th edition. For the 9th edition chapter 21 is broken into chapters 21 and 22.

Class Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 - 12:15pm Class Location: 114 Regener Hall

Office Hours: Monday 10am-noon Room 180, Physics and Astronomy Bldg. (NE corner of Lomas & Yale), or by appointment. For quick questions catch me before or after class.

Homework: There will be regular reading assignments and homework. Reading assignments should be completed BEFORE the class time. Homework assignments will be handed out weekly.

Lectures: I will present lectures in powerpoint, with occasional demonstrations. These lectures and the syllabus can be found at the class web page that you are reading now. Some material drawn from my own research, or current events, may not be covered in the book. I will ask questions from time to time during lecture. Your participation in responding, and in asking questions of your own, is strongly encouraged.

Grades: There will be two midterms, each worth 25%, and a final exam worth 30%. In addition the homework assignments will count for 20% of the grade. Please take note of the dates of the exams in the syllabus. Make-up exams will only be given if arrangements are made in advance of the exam date. On tests and homework please attempt every problem and show your work as I do give partial credit. Homeworks must be turned in at class on the day when due for full credit. Credit for late homeworks will drop by 15% for every day late within a week, and no credit thereafter. Note: If you take this class "Credit/No Credit", according to university policy, your final grade must be a "C" or better in order to receive credit.

Help with Homework and Tutoring: If you have trouble with the homework feel free to ask me for help in office hours or by appointment. I much prefer meeting in person to trying to answer questions on the homework by e-mail. Free tutoring for this class is available through CAPS. Go to

Schedule of Topics and Reading Assignments
Date Topic Reading Homework
16 Jan Introduction -- Quick Tour of the Universe Chap. 1
18 Jan Blackbody radiation, light and matter Chap. 5
23 Jan Spectral lines, Doppler Shift Chap. 5
25 Jan The Sun Chap. 16 HW#1 Due
30 Jan Nature of Stars Chap. 17
1 Feb Stars II Chap. 17 HW#2 Due
6 Feb The Interstellar Medium Chap. 18
8 Feb Star Formation Chap. 18 HW#3 Due
13 Feb Stellar Evolution Chap. 19
15 Feb High Mass Stars Chap. 20 HW#4 Due
20 Feb Review for Test #1 Chap. 1-20
22 Feb Test #1
27 Feb Neutron Stars Chap. 21
1 Mar Relativity Chap. 21
6 Mar Black Holes Chap. 21 HW#5 Due
8 Mar Gamma Ray Bursts Chap. 21
12-16 Mar Spring Break, no class
20 Mar Milky Way Chap. 22
22 Mar Galaxies I Chap. 23 HW#6 Due
27 Mar Galaxies II Chap. 24
29 Mar Active Galaxies Chap. 24 HW#7 Due
3 Apr Quasars Chap. 24
5 Apr Clusters and Large Scale Structure Chap. 24 HW#8 Due
10 Apr Review for Test 2 Chap. 21-24
12 Apr Test #2
17 Apr Cosmology I Chap. 25
19 Apr Cosmology II Chap. 25
24 Apr Epoch of Reionization Chap. 26
26 Apr Early Universe Chap. 26 HW#9 Due
1 May End of the Universe Chap. 26
3 May Review for Final Chap. 16-26
8 May 12:30pm Final Exam

This page was last modified on January 11, 2018

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