Astronomy of the Southern Skies

Physics 112   January 2005

  Gustavus Adolphus College

 Syllabus - December Version

 Instructors:  Drs. Charles F. Niederriter, Carey Freeth, William Zealey,  Ms. Joni Blackman, and Ms. Julie Blackman

Textbook:   Universe , Kaufmann and Freedman, Freeman Press 7th Edition

Lab Text: Astronomy Lab Manual, Gustavus

Star Chart:  Southern Sky Planisphere

Course Policy and Evaluation

1.  Class Times:

      The course will run from 3rd January through to the 28th January:  Mornings, from 9:00 to 12:00, will be occupied with formal lecture/, seminar presentations and practical work.  Early afternoons will be available for computer based practical work and group projects.  About 7 videos will be shown during the workshop. These have been selected to be most applicable to the topics dealt with in the course.   Evening observing as weather permits.

 2.       Evaluation:

       Exams                  50%            A  94 - 100     C+  74 - 78

       Laboratory          15%            A- 90 - 94       C  70 - 74

       Homework          15%            B+ 86 - 90      C- 66 - 70

       Group Work          10%          B  82 - 86       D+ 62 - 66

       Observing             10%            B- 78 - 82      D  58 - 62

                                                       F  0 - 58

 Assignment of final letter grades will also take into account the instructors' subjective evaluation of the student's attendance, initiative, class participation, preparation, and evidence of improvement.

 3. Objectives, Goals, and Expectations: 

            This course is intended to lead students to an understanding and appreciation of the  Universe. Astronomy and Astrophysics is an observationally driven science. The ever changing relationship between observations and their interpretation is stressed throughout the course. There have been clear periods when  observational astronomy has driven theoretical astronomy and others where the roles have been reversed. This course is designed to illustrate the methods used by scientists (particularly astronomers) and to describe how these methods have changed over the course of history.  The student will learn about the relationships between observations and theories by studying examples from astronomy and physics.  In this course we will also discuss the relationships between science and mathematics, science and religion, and science and society.

 At the end of the course students should be able to:

o       describe the major astronomical sources observed in the Universe and their characteristics

        The student beginning this course will be expected to understand basic mathematical principles such as those taught in high school algebra and geometry.  During the course of the semester, algebra and geometry will be used extensively to discuss physical processes.  The student will also be introduced to some concepts in trigonometry to illustrate the connection between mathematics and science but the student is not expected to use trigonometry to solve any problems.  It is hoped that over the course of the semester the math skills of most students will improve as a result of the assignments in this course.

4.  Laboratories:

1:  Dance of the Planets

2:  The rotation of Mercury

3: Lenses and Telescope optics

4:  Spectroscopy

5:  Comparative planetology: The surface of Mars

6:  Jupiter's Moons

7: Photometry of the Pleiades

8: Classification of Stellar Spectra

9: Multi wavelength observations using SKYVIEW and other image data bases ( e.g. MSX, IRAS)

10: ESO/UKST Sky Survey experiment

11: Radio astronomy of Pulsars

13 :Hubble's Law

14:Large Scale Structure - Where the Galaxies Are

5.    Course Content and Tentative Schedule:

Day                               Topic 

Saturday 1st                   Arrive in Christchurch.

                                     Time to settle into accommodation (Tour of Christchurch)

Sunday 2nd                Day at Leisure or Tour of Christchurch Area

Monday 3rd                   Ancient Observatories and Archeoastronomy, Rising/setting of stars and planets, Seasons

                                     Lab 1 – Observation and Star Chart

Tuesday 4th                   Motion and Phases of the Moon, Eclipses, Gravity, History of Science

                                     Lab 2 – Dance of the Planets

Wednesday 5th              Matter and Light, Optics, Telescopes, CCDs

                                     Lab 3 – Lenses and Telescopes and Spectrum of a Substance

Thursday 6th               Overview of the Solar System and Earth, Atmosphere, Magnetic Field, Plate Tectonics, ExtraSolar Planets

                                  Lab 4 – Rotation of Mercury and Jupiter’s Moons

Friday 7th                             Moon and Mercury: Features, Structure, Formation, Evolution            

Saturday 8th              Trip to Hamner Springs – Hot Springs and Ski Resort

Sunday 9th                     Day at leisure

Monday 10th             Venus, Mars, & Jupiter:  Features, Structure, Formation, Evolution

                                     Lab 5 – Lunar Features, etc.

Tuesday 11th                 The Outer Planets, moons, and rings, Comets, Meteors

                                     Lab 6 – Solar Rotation

Wednesday 12th       Exam 1, The Sun: Features, Structure, Formation, Evolution

Thursday 13th                Stars:  Measuring Temperature, Radius, Mass, HR Diagram, Birth of Stars

                                     Lab 7 – Spectroscopic Classification

Friday 14th                   Field trip to Mt. John Observatories, Mt. Cook, Queenstown, Te

                                     Anau, Milford Sound, Fox Glacier and West Coast.

Wednesday 19th             Return to Christchurch

 Thursday 20th                Main Sequence Evolution, Death of Stars

                                     Lab 8 – Photometry of Plieades

Friday 21st                    Neutron Stars, Suprnovae, Black Holes

Friday 21st                   Field trip to Nelson Area, Abel Tasman National Park

Sunday 23rd                 Return to Christchurch

 Monday 24th                 The Milky Way Galaxy, A Universe of Galaxies

                                     Lab 9 – Hubble’s Law

 Tuesday 25th                 Quasars, Active Galaxies, Gamma Ray Bursters, etc.

                                     Lab 10 – Large Scale Structure       

 Wednesday 26th             Cosmology, The Beginning of the Universe, The Big Questions

                                     Life, The Universe

 Thursday 27th                Review, Final Exam

 Friday 28tth                   Day at leisure, Dinner BBQ

Saturday 30th                Fly to Sydney


Australia Trips and Activities in the works: