Undergraduate Course Listing

ASTR 101 Astronomy (5 credits)

Introduction to the universe, with emphasis on conceptual, as contrasted with mathematical, comprehension. Modern theories, observations; ideas concerning nature, evolution of galaxies; quasars, stars, black holes, planets, solar system. Not open for credit to students who have taken 102 or 201; not open to upper-division students majoring in physical sciences or engineering.

ASTR 101 (Online)

Introduction to the science of astronomy, emphasizing conceptual, as contrasted with mathematical, comprehension.The fundamental principles used by astronomers today are applied to our theories and observations of the sun, stars, neutron stars, black holes, the interstellar medium and the structure and evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy and similar galaxies

ASTR 102 Astrophysics


ASTR 105 Exploring the Moon


ASTR 115 Astrobiology: Life in the Universe (5 credits)

Introduction to the new science of astrobiology, study of the origin and evolution of life on Earth, and the search for microbial and intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. Designed for non-science, liberal arts majors. Offered: jointly with ASTBIO/ESS/OCEAN 115/BIOL 114.

ASTR 150 The Planets (5 credits)

For liberal arts and beginning science students. Survey of the planets of the solar system, with emphases on recent space exploration of the planets and on the comparative evolution of the Earth and the other planets.

ASTR 190 Modern Topics for Non-Science Majors (3 or 5 credits)

Topics of current interest, such as origin of chemical elements, novae and supernovae, white dwarfs, neutron stars, black holes, active galaxies, quasars, or interstellar medium and astrochemistry. Choice of topics depends on instructor and class interest. Prerequisite: either one 100- or one 200-level ASTR course.

ASTR 192 Pre-Major in Astronomy Research Seminar


ASTR 201 The Universe and the Origin of Life (5 credits)

Sequel to 101 or 102, emphasizing modern views of the atomic and molecular evolution of the universe from the initial “big bang” through the formation of the solar system and the emergence of biological forms on the earth. The latter part of the course considers questions about the existence of, and communication with, extraterrestrial intelligent life, and finally the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

ASTR 210 Distance and Time: Size and Age in the Universe (5 credits)

Space and time as basic concepts in physical science. How we define and measure them, how the concepts have developed over the centuries, and how modern measurements allow us to determine the size and age of the universe.

ASTR 211 Gravity and the Universe (5 credits)


ASTR 212 Life in the Universe (5 credits)

Nature and origin of cosmic large numbers. Steps to the formation of life, formation of planets (stars, galaxies, a long-lived universe), the anthropic principle. Searches for other planetary systems and extraterrestrial life.

ASTR 270 Outreach in Astronomy


ASTR 300 Introduction to Programming for Astronomical Applications (2 credits)

Introduction to programming needed for astronomical applications: Linux operating systems, PERL, IDL. Recommended for astronomy majors planning to take 400-level astronomy courses, to pursue individual research projects, or to apply for research experience for undergraduate appointments. Prerequisite: PHYS 121 which may be taken concurrently. Offered: W.

ASTR 301 Astronomy for Scientists and Engineers (3 credits)

Introduction to astronomy for students in the physical sciences or engineering. Topics similar to 101, but the approach uses more mathematics and physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 123.

ASTR 313 Science in Civilization: Physics and Astrophysics Since 1850

Organization and pursuit of the physical and astrophysical sciences, focusing on the major unifying principles of physics and astronomy and the social and cultural settings in which they were created. Offered: jointly with HIST 313.

ASTR 321 The Solar System


ASTR 322 The Contents of our Galaxy


ASTR 323 Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology


ASTR 400 Undergraduate Research Seminar


ASTR 421 Stellar Theory and Observations


ASTR423 High-energy Astrophysics (3 credits)

High-energy phenomena in the universe. Includes supernova, pulsars, neutron stars, x-ray and gamma-ray sources, black holes, cosmic rays, quasi stellar objects, active galactic nuclei, diffuse background radiations. Radiative emission, absorption processes, and models derived from observational data. Prerequisite: PHYS 224; PHYS 225.

ASTR425 Cosmology


ASTR 480 Introduction to Astronomical Data Analysis


ASTR 481 Introduction to Astronomical Observations (5 credits)

Theory and practice of obtaining optical data at a telescope. Preparation, obtaining data with a CCD on a telescope, and subsequent data analysis for completion of a research project. Prerequisite: ASTR 480

ASTR 482 Writing Astronomical Papers


ASTR 497 Special Topics in Astronomy (1-3 credits)

Recent developments in one field of astronomy or astrophysics.

ASTR 499 Undergraduate Research (max 15 credits)

Special astronomical problems and observational projects, by arrangement with instructor.

Graduate Course Listing

ASTR 500 Seminar in Elementary Astronomy Instruction (3 credits)

Seminar in the preparation of lecture and workshop materials with emphasis on demonstration, visual aids, and the evaluation of students’ progress.

ASTR 507 Physical Foundations of Astrophysics I (3 credits)

Thermodynamics from an astronomer’s point of view: black body radiation, basic radiative transfer, equation of state, degenerate gases, crystallization at high density.

ASTR 508 Physical Foundations of Astrophysics II (3 credits)

Introduction to astronomical hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics, basic theorems and application to stellar and interstellar magnetic fields. Introduction to plasma physics, waves in a plasma.

ASTR 509 Physical Foundations of Astrophysics III (3 credits)

Potential theory as applied to astrophysical systems. Orbits. Integrals of motion. Equilibrium and stability of stellar systems. Encounters of Stellar Systems. Kinetic theory of clusters, galaxies, and large-scale structure.

ASTR 510 Nuclear Astrophysics (3 credits)

Big bang nucleosynthesis; nuclear reactions in stars; solar neutrinos and neutrino oscillations; core-collapse supernovae; nucleosynthesis in stars, novae, and supernovae; neutron starts; composition and sources of cosmic rays; gamma ray bursts; atmospheric neutrinos.

ASTR 511 Galactic Structure (3 credits)

Kinematics, dynamics, and contents of the galaxy. Spiral structure. Structure of other galaxies. Evolution of galaxies

ASTR 512 Extragalactic Astronomy (3 credits)

Types of galaxies. Integrated properties, content, and dynamics. Extragalactic distance scale, groups and clusters. Radio sources. Observational cosmology.

ASTR 513 Cosmology (3 credits)

Big bang cosmology; relativistic world models and classical tests; background radiation; cosmological implications of nucleosynthesis; baryogenesis; inflation; galaxy and large-scale structure formation; quasars; intergalactic medium; dark matter.

ASTR 519 Radiative Processes in Astrophysics (3 credits)

Theory and applications of astrophysical radiation processes: transfer theory; thermal radiation; theory of radiation fields and radiation from moving charges; bremsstrahlung; synchrotron; Compton scattering; plasma effects.

ASTR 521, 522 Stellar Atmospheres (2 x 3 credits)

Theory of continuous radiation and spectral line formation. Applications to the sun and stars.

ASTR 523 Solar Physics (3 credits)

Sun as a star, solar photosphere and outer convection zone, granulation and related phenomena, solar chromosphere, and corona, solar activity especially sunspots and solar flares, sun’s radio emission, solar-terrestrial relations.

ASTR 531 Stellar Interiors (4 credits)

Physical laws governing the temperature, pressure, and mass distribution in stars. Equation of state, opacity, nuclear energy generation, computational methods. Models of main sequence stars and star formation.

ASTR 532 Stellar Evolution (3 credits)

Theoretical and observational approaches to stellar evolution. Structure of red giants, supernovae, and white dwarfs. Observations of star clusters and the chemical composition of stars as they relate to the theory of stellar structure.

ASTR 541 Interstellar Matter (3 credits)

Physical conditions and motions of neutral and ionized gas in interstellar space. Interstellar dust, magnetic fields, formation of grains, clouds, and stars.

ASTR 555 Planetary Atmospheres (3 credits)

Problems of origin, evolution, and structure of planetary atmospheres, emphasizing elements common to all; roles of radiation, chemistry, and dynamical processes; new results on the atmospheres of Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and other solar system objects in the context of comparative planetology.

ASTR 556 Planetary Surfaces (3 credits)

Comparison of surface processes and conditions on Mercury, Venus, Earth, moon, Mars, asteroids, and satellites of the great planets. Emphasis on understanding how and why planetary surfaces differ from one another and the implied course of solar-system evolution. Analysis of data from Earth-based telescopes and manned and unmanned space missions.

ASTR 557 Origin of the Solar System (3 credits)

Nebular and non-nebular theories of the solar system origin; collapse from the interstellar medium, grain growth in the solar nebula, formation of planetesimals and planets, early evolution of the planets and other possible planetary systems; physical and chemical evidence upon which the ideas concerning the origin of the solar system are based.

ASTR 561 High Energy Astrophysics (3 credits)

Observed properties of supernovae, x-ray stars, radio sources, quasars. Theories explaining such objects. Origin of cosmic rays.

ASTR 575 Seminar in Astronomy (1-2 credits)

Discussion of recent research in astronomy and astrophysics.

ASTR 576 Astronomy Colloquium (1 credit)

Current research topics in astronomy and astrophysics.

ASTR 581 Techniques in Optical Astronomy (5 credits)

Theory and practice of obtaining optical data. Astronomical photoelectric photometers, spectrographs, interferometers, emphasis on statistical analysis using digital computers. Observations with MRO thirty-inch telescope.

ASTR 597 Topics in Observational Astrophysics (1-5 credits)


ASTR 598 Topics in Theoretical Astrophysics (1-5 credits)


ASTR 599 Advanced Astronomy Seminar (1-3 credits)

Practical exercises in astrophysics. Emphasis on methods and techniques of simulation, acquisition, evaluation, and analysis of observational data and its interpretation using models of astrophysical systems.

ASTR 600 Independent Study or Research


ASTR 700 Master’s Thesis


ASTR 800 Doctoral Dissertation